Visual & Textual Consistency Checking Tools for Graphical User Interfaces

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1996

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Designing a user interface with a consistent visual design and textual properties with current generation GUI development tools is cumbersome. SHERLOCK, a family of consistency checking tools, has been designed to evaluate visual design and textual properties of interface, make the GUI evaluation process less arduous, and aid usability testing. SHERLOCK includes a dialog box summary table to provide a compact overview of visual properties of hundreds of dialog boxes of the interface. Terminology specific tools, like Interface Concordance, Terminology Baskets and Interface Speller have been developed. Button specific tools including Button Concordance and Button Layout Table have been created to detect variant capitalization, distinct typefaces, distinct colors, variant button sizes and inconsistent button placements. This paper describes software architecture, data structures and the use of SHERLOCK. An experiment with 60 subjects to study the effects of inconsistent interface terminology on user's performance showed 10-25% speedup for consistent interfaces. SHERLOCK was tested with four commercial prototypes; the corresponding outputs, analysis and feedback from designers of these applications is presented.

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