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3 User Interface Design Guidelines for a Hypertext Framework

This section describes the user interface guidelines applied to the hypertext framework proposed by Rao and Turoff. The classification of nodes and links into various types makes it easier to design an appropriate user interface for a hypertext system.

Various user interface design techniques and usability principles have been proposed by researchers and practitioners [Apple, 1987][Molich & Nielsen, 1990] [Nielsen, 1990e][OSF, 1991][Shneiderman, 1987][Turoff et al., 1991]]. We have chosen the following set of guidelines [Turoff, 1991a] to be applied to the hypertext framework since they were found to be more systematic and comprehensive than other similar guidelines:

  1. Identify the metaphor.
  2. Identify all objects that make up the system.
  3. Identify all actions/functions that can be performed on these objects. Separate them into generic actions, explicit actions, and control functions.
  4. Identify modifiers/filters that select subsets of objects.
  5. Identify strategic choices which allow the user to accomplish a specific task.
  6. Identify lateral classifications – objects and actions that relate to each other.
  7. Identify the formats of objects, parts of objects, menus etc.
  8. Identify lists of objects.
  9. Identify reactive choices that can be performed on a list or a set of objects.
  10. Identify processes or functions that share information.
  11. Identify all user interaction states.
  12. Identify necessary help throughout the system.
  13. Identify all error conditions.
  14. Identify the screen layout – workspace, control area, status area, message area etc.