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Unsung Heroes of Interface Design

03 Jun 2003 by LukeW

Though you’ll find Amazon’s UI praised in nearly every Web design book, it’s quite rare that you hear about the designers behind the scenes making it happen. Who’s behind exemplary interface design?

Here’s one: Colleen Bushell. Colleen designed the original interface for the Mosaic browser. Home, back, and forward: key components of the browsing metaphor. Navigator, Explorer and the rest of today’s browsers are just bloated versions of that elegant solution to moving through information. She also came up with the spinning globe you know see in the upper right hand corner of your browser- letting users know something was happening as they waited for pages to download.

Colleen worked with Edward Tufte on the redesign on the severe storm modeling visualization that graces the cover of his book, Visual Explanations. She wrote Design Requirements for Hypermedia in 1995, a seminal piece which presented new media design guidelines based on principles from scientific visualization, cartography, and book design. These include: provide an overview that communicates both qualitative and quantitative information, provide a sense of context, show several representations of the information space, provide a method to directly interact with the representations in order to move through the space.

Colleen is still active and I have had the pleasure of working with her on many interesting projects.

So how bout it: anyone out there doing great stuff on the “down-low”?

15 comments so far (Post a Comment)

03 Jun 2003 | Scrivs said...

I don't know about anyone doing stuff on the down low, but I do know that if Luke keeps on posting at the rate he is, he will run out of ideas by mid-June ;)

03 Jun 2003 | fajalar said...

I'd say Bob Bailey and Sanjay Koyani with their work at usability.gov for contributing to the research on usability issues.

As well as continuously pushing people to show their supporting research, do supporting research, and question supporting research.

03 Jun 2003 | Scorched said...

mostly offtopic rant: Amazon may have a splendid gui for searching and finding books, but what they did to CDNOW is a tragic crime. They discarded one of the most elegant and usable store designs of all time, and replaced it with their Amazon style, and it's become an unusable mess. It became hard to find artists, other works by them, compilation albums, and has caused me to take all of my shopping elsewhere.

06 Jun 2003 | alisha said...

I enjoyed the link - thanks Luke. Don´t have any unsung heros of the top of my head tho.

08 Jun 2003 | Brian Cho said...

ditto about CDNOW

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