The Windows® 95 User Interface: A Case Study in Usability Engineering
The development of the user interface for a large commercial software product like Microsoft® Windows 95 involves many people, broad design goals, and an aggressive work schedule. This design briefing describes how the usability engineering principles of iterative design and problem tracking were successfully applied to make the development of the UI more manageable. Specific design problems and their solutions are also discussed.
Iterative design, Microsoft Windows, problem tracking, rapid prototyping, usability engineering, usability testing.
Windows 95 is a comprehensive upgrade to the Windows 3.1 and Windows for Workgroups 3.11 products. Many changes have been made in almost every area of Windows, with the user interface being no exception. This paper discusses the design team, its goals and process then explains how usability engineering principles such as iterative design and problem tracking were applied to the project, using specific design problems and their solutions as examples.
The Windows 95 user interface design team was formed in October, 1992 during the early stages of the project. I joined the team as an adjunct member, to provide usability services, in December 1992. The design team was truly interdisciplinary, with people trained in product design, graphic design, usability testing, and computer science. The number of people oscillated during the project but was approximately twelve. The software developers dedicated to implementing the user interface accounted for another twelve or so people.
The design team was chartered with two very broad goals:
* Make Windows easier to learn for people just getting started with computers and Windows.
* Make Windows easier to use for people who already use computers-both the typical Windows 3.1 user and the advanced, or "power", Windows 3.1 user.
With over 50 million units...