February 25th, 2004

Wizards and Guides

Principles of Task Flow for Web Applications Part 2

In part one of this article the discussion was one of views, forms, and the manner in which they could be combined into a task structure known as a hub. This installment expands on those themes by exploring two other types of task structures commonly employed in web applications–wizards and guides.

What distinguishes a web application from a traditional, content-based website and what are some of the unique design challenges associated with web applications? A reasonable launching point is the more fundamental question, “What is an application?”

“Making the Web Work: Designing Effective Web Applications” is a well-written, meaty book on the entire process of designing interactive websites from a user interface perspective. Those new to the field of user-centered design will find it most useful; intermediate or advanced practitioners looking for in-depth information specific to web applications may want to look elsewhere.

Well-designed interactive products allow people and technology to carry on a complex and elegant dance relying on multiple, simultaneous forms of communication. A new 12-part series will discuss the activity of interaction design as it relates to the Web, and the relative advantages and disadvantages of the Web as an interactive medium.

There are several important factors to consider when you are planning to do prototyping for user testing. You will want to make careful choices about fidelity, level of interactivity and the medium of your prototype. Chris Farnum offers descriptions and best use scenarios to help you make the best prototype decision for your tests.

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