Usability for Nerds/Self-explaining interfaces

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Self-explaining user interfaces are preferred if they can be implemented without too much complication. A drop-down menu is a good example of a self-explaining interface.

Drop down menu

A bad example is a desktop shortcut in Microsoft Windows 7. This square, which just looks like an empty space, is actually a shortcut that you can click on to view the desktop. It is not obvious that this little square actually has a function - or what that function might be. A user looking for a shortcut to the desktop is very unlikely to find it.

Clickable square in Windows 7 to launch desktop

An icon or pictogram is intended to be self-explaining, and it works well if it is easy to understand or the meaning is generally known.

Pictogram for handicap access

But an icon or pictogram is useless if incomprehensible or easily misunderstood. This pictogram means Remember, but it may be misinterpreted to mean Emergency room.

Pictogram Dressed finger

This icon, named Control Center 3, opens the software for controlling a scanner. This is not obvious to the user.

Icon Control Center 3

While a self-explaining button or icon can be useful, it should not be so conspicuous as to be disturbing or importunate.

Popup message for Java update

The user should be in control · Predictability