Visual and textual consistency checking tools for graphical user interfaces

TitleVisual and textual consistency checking tools for graphical user interfaces
Publication TypeJournal Articles
Year of Publication1997
AuthorsMahajan R, Shneiderman B
JournalIEEE Transactions on Software Engineering
Pagination722 - 735
Date Published1997/11//
ISBN Number0098-5589
Keywordsbutton analysis tools, Color, dialog box summary table, experiment, graphical analysis tools, Graphical user interfaces, human factors, inconsistent interface terminology, interface color, interface spell checker, Output feedback, Prototypes, SHERLOCK, Software architecture, Software design, software metrics, software prototyping, software tools, Terminology, terminology analysis tools, Testing, textual consistency checking tools, user interface management systems, User interfaces, user performance, visual consistency checking tools

Designing user interfaces with consistent visual and textual properties is difficult. To demonstrate the harmful effects of inconsistency, we conducted an experiment with 60 subjects. Inconsistent interface terminology slowed user performance by 10 to 25 percent. Unfortunately, contemporary software tools provide only modest support for consistency control. Therefore, we developed SHERLOCK, a family of consistency analysis tools, which evaluates visual and textual properties of user interfaces. It provides graphical analysis tools such as a dialog box summary table that presents a compact overview of visual properties of all dialog boxes. SHERLOCK provides terminology analysis tools including an interface concordance, an interface spellchecker, and terminology baskets to check for inconsistent use of familiar groups of terms. Button analysis tools include a button concordance and a button layout table to detect variant capitalization, distinct typefaces, distinct colors, variant button sizes, and inconsistent button placements. We describe the design, software architecture, and the use of SHERLOCK. We tested SHERLOCK with four commercial prototypes. The outputs, analysis, and feedback from designers of the applications are presented