Quick idea for a revamped HIG

I just wanted to blog about it before I forget. I had a nice chat with Andreas and this idea came out.

Well, everybody knows that our beloved Human Interface Guidelines (aka HIG) needs an update. There are some missing bits for new use cases and the current content needs to be updated for the current desktop (although most of the document seems to be still quite valid). I guess I don’t need to argue about the importance of those guidelines to GNOME usability and UI consistency, right?

My main use case as an user of HIG is to open its table of contents and search for a section related to the topic I’m trying to deal with in my UI. So, would it be nice if the HIG became some kind of a UI guidelines knowledge base? This way we can easily keep the guidelines updated and evolve it every time we find out about a new use case.

Each entry in this knowledge base would provide guidelines for a specific use case or behavior (keyboard shortcuts, search, zooming, drag and drop, etc) or UI element (statusbar, toolbar, menubar, dialogs, panels, etc). Entries could be marked as deprecated and have different versions. Of course, entries could be tagged as well. The initial webpage could have just a search entry and a sane topics tree, tag cloud (or a kind of table of contents). The entries could be submitted by anyone but it would be moderated and improved/fixed by the GNOME Usability experts.

Well, this was just a random idea. I don’t really plan to work on that. I hope it can be an inspiration and bring some motivation to update our HIG and make it rock even more! :-P

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Lucas Rocha is just a brazilian guy who loves hacking and music. He lives in the frozen lands of Finland with his lovely wife Carol. He works for Nokia in the development of Hildon and Maemo. In his free time, he's a happy GNOME contributor. He has a mustache, a beard and big smile in his face.

2 thoughts on “Quick idea for a revamped HIG”

  1. I love this idea, but I wonder if we could turn it into a kind of UI/HIG Wikipedia? It would be really useful to collect UI from all over the world. not just GNOME, but MS apps, Amiga, the Web, KDE, even physical devices.

    Pictures of these could be posted to the site, with a simple explanation of where they had come from, and what they manipulate. People could comment on them, and add more detailed descriptions of each element’s behavior. If originating from a HIG, the HIG description could inserted directly. Each entry could be tagged and categorized as you mention.

    It would allow for new proposals for UI from all platforms to be discussed in the context of all existing UIs, with rich linking. This would be really valuable, I think…

    Designers and engineers post links for UI-in-progress all the time, and people review them by looking at other UI they can think of that’s similar. We look to see if the changes/improvements warrant something new, or if platform HIGs are being violated.

  2. @Alex:
    I don’t think casual reviewers that know about the wiki are really helpful. Because they don’t represent the real normal user and they will never be able to guess what are all the general users difficulties. A person that is looking at UI’s wiki is already a step beyond.
    *Improving the UI is not like filling bug report* amd it’s not like solving a problem. *Improving the UI is: empathize with users*.
    To empathize you need to see, test and talk with a large number of people, people that come from different experiences (not only hackers or geeks).
    Because for example if in a wiki 12 people say that one thing is ok or they suggest to improve something. How do you know which part of the population they rappresent? Maybe only the 3%.

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