Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Design Principles For Creating New Interfaces

I wanted to share a paper I came across while researching a piece on Human Factors Engineering for a Multitouch Interfaces.

In the paper, Richard E. Mayer and Roxana Moreno of UCSB lay out five key principals for designing new multimedia interfaces:

Multiple Representation Principle:

Its is better to present an explanation in words and pictures than solely in words.

Contiguity Principle:
When giving a multimedia explanation, present corresponding words and pictures contiguously rather than separately.

Split-Attention Principle:

When giving a multimedia explanation, present words as auditory narration rather than as visual on-screen text.

Individual Differences Principle:

The foregoing principles are more important for lowknowledge
than high-knowledge learners, and for high-spatial rather than low-spatial learners.

Coherence Principle:

When giving a multimedia explanation, use few rather than many extraneous words and pictures.


  1. Hi. I'm a fan of Richard E. Mayer's work.

    He edited the book "The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning", which fleshes out the principles you mentioned. I have his Multimedia Learning book, which came out in 2001. The second edition was released in hardcover this year- I'm waiting for the paper-back version. I'm sure it will be a great resource!

  2. Hey Jonathan, how have you been.

    Just a note about the paper. It's a nice find, but it's not really helpful in an actual interface design context.

    It's real use would be in designing a help system. Like the Globe tutorial we did for Win7.

    I think we followed all of his suggestions as well. I can't recall exactly.

  3. Hi Ron,

    Great to hear from you. Hope life is treating you well in the great white northwest.

    While I agree that the paper in not useful in all contexts, if most applications followed Mayer's advice, they would sure be easier to use.