Humanising Electronic Publications

  1. 1. Blair Martin

    Kingston Learning Systems

Work text
This plain text was ingested for the purpose of full-text search, not to preserve original formatting or readability. For the most complete copy, refer to the original conference program.

Humanising Electronic Publications
Blair Martin
Electronic publications are now part of everyday life. Yet many of them fail to engage their users effectively. Why so?

If you are thinking of producing an electronic publication, what can you do to ensure its users find it easy and enjoyable to use?

How can the publication guide its users and emulate the absent teacher?

This paper describes some of the issues involved, and sets forth principles for designing attractive yet functional user interfaces. It shows examples from various existing electronic publications, and from a CD-ROM on the Classical Tradition in Architecture currently under development at Queen's University.

Primary Topics
The electronic publication: is it a book? Should it behave like a book? Is the "book" metaphor good enough?
How can it reveal richness of content without losing the users in detail?
How can it engage with users who have different levels of interest?
How can it adapt itself to users with varying degrees of computer literacy?
Meeting user expectations; expectations developed by books, television, and computer games
Are there design standards that should be followed? Who sets the standards? How can standardisation, pedagogical purpose, and aesthetic appeal work together?
The teacher is not present. What does a teacher do? How can a teacher's monitoring and assistive skills be emulated in an electronic publication?
Note: Dr. du Prey's paper will address the last point in much more detail.
Technical Topics
Screen layout
graphic design and typographic issues
use of windows
placement and identification of screen controls
visual feedback techniques
aesthetic values
Multimedia components: (images, sound, animation, movies)
sound: as pedagogical content, as user-friendly function, or just for decoration?
animation: a powerful tool (not to be wasted on distracting screen toys)
how to use the "multi" in multimedia
other visualisation techniques (3-D, panning, walk-through)
Navigation: (enabling the user to explore the subject matter)
Letting the user choose a direction; lighting the way; charting the way; mid-course side-trips, and changing course....

What the user sees first — the splash screen
Main menu
Screen titling
Preferred paths
Icon-based cross-linking
Hypertext links
Alphabetical indexes
Contextually relevant indices and diagrams
Navigation maps
Active images
Questions and answers; quizzes and games
How users learn to use the program, get help, and gain confidence while doing so.
Methods of extending the scope of the publication's interactivity beyond its own content matter
Matching the publication to the capabilities of the users' computers
The references will include:

Current work on multimedia techniques and interface design at Canadian universities
NRC projects on image capture and visualisation
Ben Schniederman, University of Maryland (noted expert on user interface design)
Software company design guidelines (Microsoft, Macromedia, Asymetrix, etc.)
Electronic equivalents of the Chicago Manual of Style
A list of electronic publications we feel are representative of good interface design
A list of current electronic publications on architecture
Some references will include the URLs of relevant sites on the World Wide Web, which are now as significant to the development of electronic publications as references to print publications.
A demonstration of multimedia software features will be central to the presentation of this paper. Many of the topics would be hard to understand without it.

We will be using a dual-screen computer-driven presentation. It will include examples of good and bad design from existing publications. We will also show early models of screen designs for our forthcoming CD-ROM on the Classical Tradition in Architecture.

Come June, the conference participants will be able to judge our early development efforts for themselves.

If this content appears in violation of your intellectual property rights, or you see errors or omissions, please reach out to Scott B. Weingart to discuss removing or amending the materials.

Conference Info

In review


Hosted at Queen's University

Kingston, Ontario, Canada

June 3, 1997 - June 7, 1997

76 works by 119 authors indexed

Series: ACH/ALLC (9), ACH/ICCH (17), ALLC/EADH (24)

Organizers: ACH, ALLC

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None