Visual & Textual Consistency Checking Tools for Graphical User Interfaces

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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 pro perties of interface, make the GUI evaluation process less arduous, and aid usability testing. SHERLOCK includes a dialog box summary table to pro vide 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 Conco rdance 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 the design, software architecture, and the use of SHERLOC K. 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 a nd feedback from designers of these applications is presented. (Also cross-referenced as CAR-TR-828)