Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 11th Nov 2007 15:52 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces This is the fifth article in a series on common usability and graphical user interface related terms [part I | part II | part III | part IV]. On the internet, and especially in forum discussions like we all have here on OSNews, it is almost certain that in any given discussion, someone will most likely bring up usability and GUI related terms - things like spatial memory, widgets, consistency, Fitts' Law, and more. The aim of this series is to explain these terms, learn something about their origins, and finally rate their importance in the field of usability and (graphical) user interface design. In part V, we focus on modes.
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Photoshop examples
by Frenetic on Sun 11th Nov 2007 17:37 UTC
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I find User Interface design a fascinating subject and I enjoy writing clever user interfaces for my software.

Adobe Photoshop is a good example of UI do's and don'ts, especially in terms of modality. In every new version over the years I kept hoping they'd have finally addressed the nagging UI problems and removed those intrusive modal dialogs, only to be disappointed time after time.

A common issue with modality in PS is the "your selection is not visible" and "even though you clicked you haven't made a selection" pop-ups. They totally break your concentration, "Ok" needs to be clicked to continue, and it's not remotely necessary to use modal dialogs for that information at all. I can think of countless ways to do it differently, some of which would also improve how selections are represented.

Another good example is the Quick Mask mode, which allows you to use brushes to paint a mask which is converted to and from a selection when you enter and leave the mode. The mode itself is useful, but it's easy to turn it on by accident by hitting the wrong shortcut key. Then you likely won't notice the mode until you become confounded when a tool doesn't work or a function is disabled. A tiny icon somewhere changes very subtly when the mode is on, and that's it. It would be much better if the window border or something changed color to let you know when you were in that mode.

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