diversification of minds - conversation in processes
design for communities

Tokyo, 07.10 - 09.10 1999

10 08 pm<Case Studies Of Information Design Interfaces>
Izumi Tanaka, Softdevice, Tokyo, Japan

Processes of interface design in software development

In addition to conventional design, interface design deals with an extensive range of aspects, including concepts of operation and the design of functions. It is important to find appropriate structures for integrating the design while giving consideration to both the product development and the development processes themselves. I would like to describe the principal aspects of design work, while placing particular emphasis on processes of interface design in software development.

Prototyping of a concept model
The planning of concept model and its basic functions is the most creative part in interface design and software development. Creating a prototype in order to consider possible design solutions converts ideas into visible information, which can be shared by all those involved in the developmental process. We adapted this method during the process of designing the interface for a personal information environment system in collaboration with the 'NTT Data Corporation', in order to visualize several ideas, by first using concept models and then building a working prototype.

User interface requirement specifications
This document lists the deliverables to the engineering team. It helps to specify the system environment, which is necessary for a specific interface design.

Operation flow chart
The flow chart is an important tool to study not only screen transitions and operational sequences but also the required functions in a sequence of tasks.

Screen specifications
These are documents detailing display information, operational elements and function specifications for all screens. They are significant in that they give detailed design instructions for each screen. Combined, operation flow chart and screen specifications make up the user interface specifications. These are the most important source of information for the engineering team.

Interface design guidelines
One of the most important tasks of interface design guidelines is to define rules. Rules to clearly delineate the concept, rules to outline the structure of functions, rules to safeguard the consistency of operation, and rules to define and lay-out different elements for the most comprehensible and consistent display of information.

Interface design development tools
At SoftDevice we are currently developing an interface design development tool. The purpose of this tool is to assist in structuring the interface design development process, considering aspects such as operational flow, and interface specifications. Integrating information management capabilities will increase operational efficiency.

Applying the described design methods to software development will lead to better products. Designers must be always open to new developments in technology in order to enhance their professional ability.

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