Background Posture

Examples: 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.

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.).

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.

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Last modified May 17, 1999

Copyright (c) 1999 by Jenifer Tidwell.  All rights reserved.