Awasu » Going cross-eyed
Wednesday 7th September 2005 12:54 PM [General]

Ya know how it is when you look and look at something and then look at it some more, you get to the point where your brain no longer is registering what it is you're looking at? šŸ˜•

Well, I've reached that point with the last release of Awasu šŸ™

One of the changes introduced was to highlight key fields in dialog boxes by using bold text. If you check out this screenshot, you can see that it's a definite improvement.

Thing is, I'm not sure if it's a good idea or not. Firstly, it's a bit non-standard and secondly, I'm wondering if I maybe went a bit overboard and made too many things bold šŸ™‚ šŸ™„

What do you think?

15 Responses to this post

I personally find the bold more readable than the non bold.

Me too. I was just worried I might have gone a bit too far and bolded too much stuff. Have a play with the new version and you'll see bold text all over the place šŸ™‚

I also agree. Bolded headers, especially, make sections much easier to locate and read.

The bold headings are an improvement

THe bold variant is much more user-friendly. I like it more. No problem with the use of bold, it just helps us.

Yup, it works better bolded.

Another vote for the bold - it draws the eyes to the different areas better.

looks fine to me...

THe bold variant is much more user-friendly. I totally agree.

Errm, just to be different. Bolding might be gi,ding the lily. For example, the search field is identified by the text "Search for", the triangle arrow and the loup, bolding the text may be a bridge too far for me.

BUT, I'd like to see how bolding the selected item might work.

The important information is not the title of the field but the information it contains. Bolding, for example "Descriptions", ITitles" and "From Any Time" would, at a glance, tell us the key parameters for the search.

We don't need our attention drawn to the field names, we need to know what we've chosen, I'd bet that bolding that data would work better.

>>> Iā€™d like to see how bolding the selected item might work.

I'm not quite sure how that would help. The selected text is going to have the selected look (usually white on a blue background) so is differentiated already.

The idea behind bolding was more for when the user is presented with a blank dialog (e.g. when trying to do a search) to try and lead them through the process. There are a lot of fields on the search dialog and so bolding emphasizes how the controls are divided into their main groups (what to search for, where to search, date/time range, and how to present the results).

I see what you're saying about bolding the active data but 1) changing the appearance of checkbox label depending on whether it's checked or not (for example) is probably not a Good Idea and 2) it's (a lot) more work for me, so less likely to happen šŸ™‚

In this context, bold helps navigation, I would go with the bold version. No contest.

Bolding is often used in print for headings. Headings break things up into sections of related material so you can find things faster by looking for them in the right section of a document. The bold here serves the same purpose. Dialog boxes are notorious for being unintuitive. Here are a few of my own guidelines.

1. Spend lots of design time organizing a dialog box.
2. Make the organization self evident. For example, make use of headings and other organizational features.
3. Consider the sequence of data entry and make it match user thinking or external documents.
4. Label everything clearly and unambiguously. For example, use units of measure where appropriate.
5. Use standard navigation mechanisms so you do not frustrate users.
6. Always make help available that puts everything into context, explains interactions such as the effect of one entry on another, and explains any jargon you could not avoid.
7. Where possible, design user interfaces to avoid rather than issue errors. For example, if your application will not do something, try to avoid an error message (and user frustration) by not allowing the user interface to specify that action.

Some great suggestions, Russ. Thanks for those.

Most of them I try to apply anyway, in particular trying to model the user's thought process and provide feedback during the data entry process e.g. greying out controls when they are not applicable.

How well do you think we've done with the new UI? šŸ™‚

Tucking lesser-used options away in their own mini dialog boxes was another thing I was a little concerned about. Again, it's non-standard but the alternative is enormous dialog boxes with masses and masses of controls, a la Microsoft Word šŸ˜

Personally, I find what you've done quite good; definately makes it better to look at.

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