Context: The artifact will be used by people with differing
abilities, cultures, and tastes.
Word, Excel, Netscape, and other desktop GUI applications
Cars that save "user profiles" with seat positions, mirror angles, etc.
Java's multiple look-and-feels, for use in GUI software
Problem: How does the artifact present the actions
that the user may take?
Solution: Provide a place or working surface where
users can pick their own settings for things like language, fonts, icons,
color schemes, and use of sound. Allow users to save those preferences,
so that they don't have to spend time setting them up again, but do this
per user if multiple people will use it. Build the artifact itself to support
such preferences. Devise a set of alternative "canned settings" that
users can choose between, if they don't like the default and don't want
to spend hours picking out good combinations.
The user may not be able to use this artifact because of the language /
font size / etc.
The user may want some degree of aesthetic control over the artifact.
Users get a sense of ownership and control over an artifact by modifying
The user probably doesn't want to have to reconstruct their preferences
every time they start a new session with the artifact.
Consider users who deal with these common issues, among others:
Resulting Context: These are commonly presented as
a Form of some kind, or as a Control
Primary languages other than English
Visually impaired (most are not 100% blind; large fonts and high contrast
RSI (repetitive stress injuries) -- many people cannot easily use their
Notes: There's a lot to be said about assistive
technologies, particularly as they relate to computer artifacts, but space
is short. It would be interesting to study successful uses of them and
see what patterns can be found. (Are they already in this language?)
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last modified May 17, 1999
Copyright (c) 1999 by Jenifer Tidwell. All rights reserved.