Designing Responsive Software Despite Performance Limitations

Jeff Johnson, UI Wizards

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University May 4, 2001

Many of today's interactive software products and services are not responsive enough. Responsiveness is one of the most important factors in determining customer satisfaction with software and online services, but it is continually slighted by developers. This talk distinguishes responsiveness from performance and points out that performance need not limit responsiveness. It explains that the user-computer interface is a real-time interface, with time-constraints that software must satisfy in order to be perceived as responsive. The talk also presents techniques for improving responsiveness despite limited or fluctuating processing resources. Many examples are provided of responsive and unresponsive systems.

Talk Summary and References available.

Jeff Johnson is President and Principal Consultant at UI Wizards, Inc, a product usability consulting firm. He has worked in the field of Human-Computer Interaction since 1978. After earning B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Yale and Stanford Universities, he worked as a user-interface designer and implementer, engineer manager, usability tester, and researcher at Cromemco, Xerox, US West, Hewlett-Packard Labs, Sun/FirstPerson (the predecessor of JavaSoft), and SunSoft. He has published numerous articles and book chapters on a variety of topics in Human-Computer Interaction and the impact of technology on society. He is the author of a recent book, GUI Bloopers: Don'ts and Dos for Software Developers and Web Designers (Morgan Kaufmann).

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