Context: The activity supported by the artifact is
secondary to other activities, and will never need more than a little of
the user's attention; but it should stay around for those times the user
does need it.
Computer's load indicator
Problem: How should this artifact relate spatially
to other artifacts that might share its space, and how can it best use
the space it has?
Solution: Make the artifact small, relative to the
other primary activities going on at the same time, and keep it inobtrusive.
As with Helper Posture, use familiar terminology and images to shorten
the learning curve, but tightly restrain your use of space. Keep
the number of available actions as small as possible. If space is
at a premium, as on a computer screen, strip away any visual detail that
may detract from the purpose of the artifact, and in all cases, use graphic
design techniques to make it recede into the background (position it in
a little-used corner, mute its colors, don't use motion or blinking, etc.).
The user is principally doing something else, and this shouldn't interfere
The user will not bother to expend much mental effort to learn or use the
artifact, because the activity's priority is low; its learning curve should
be extremely short or nil.
The user wants the artifact to stay around, in case it's needed
Resulting Context: It depends entirely upon the
artifact's primary pattern. This posture doesn't generally give you
enough room to apply most of the patterns in this language, especially
those dealing with multiple working surfaces or help. Still,
if it is a Status Display, put the information
right out there for the user to see; if it is a Control
Panel, or Form, make it usable with the smallest
possible amount of manipulation by the user.
Notes: Adapted from "About Face," by Alan Cooper.
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last modified May 17, 1999
Copyright (c) 1999 by Jenifer Tidwell. All rights reserved.