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The Essential Guide to User Interface Design: An Introduction to GUI Design Principles and Techniques, 3rd Edition by Wilbert O. Galitz

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STEP 9

Provide Effective Feedback and Guidance and Assistance

All user actions must be reacted to in some way. Feedback, as has been noted, shapes human performance. Without it, people cannot learn. To aid user learning and avoid frustration, it is also important to provide thorough and timely guidance and assistance. In this step, the following feedback topics are discussed:

  • Acceptable response times.
  • Dealing with time delays.
  • Blinking for attention.
  • The use of sound.

This will be followed by a review of guidance and assistance, including

  • Preventing errors and problem management.
  • The types of guidance and assistance to provide
    • Instructions or prompting.
    • A Help facility.
    • Contextual Help.
    • Task-oriented Help.
    • Reference Help.
    • Wizards.
    • Hints or tips.

Providing the Proper Feedback

To be effective, feedback to the user for an action must occur within certain time limits. It is known that excessive delays can be annoying, interrupt concentration, cause the user concern, and impair productivity as one's memory limitations begin to be tested. What the ideal system response time is has been the subject of numerous studies for decades. The following general guidelines were derived through research using text-based and graphical systems. After this research is surveyed, the expanding body of knowledge regarding response time delays in Web-based systems will be reviewed.

Response Time

  • System responsiveness should match the speed and flow of human thought processes.
    • If continuity of ...

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