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Visual and Textual Consistency Checking Tools for Graphical User Interfaces
November 1997 (vol. 23 no. 11)
pp. 722-735

Abstract—Designing user interfaces with consistent visual and textual properties is difficult. To demonstrate the harmful effects of inconsistency, we conducted an experiment with 60 subjects. Inconsistent interface terminology slowed user performance by 10 to 25 percent. Unfortunately, contemporary software tools provide only modest support for consistency control. Therefore, we developed SHERLOCK, a family of consistency analysis tools, evaluates visual and textual properties of user interfaces. It provides graphical analysis tools such as a dialog box summary table that presents a compact overview of visual properties of all dialog boxes. SHERLOCK provides terminology analysis tools including an Interface Concordance, an Interface Spellchecker, and Terminology Baskets to check for inconsistent use of familiar groups of terms. Button analysis tools include a Button Concordance and a Button Layout Table to detect variant capitalization, distinct typefaces, distinct colors, variant button sizes, and inconsistent button placements. This paper describes the design, software architecture, and the use of SHERLOCK. We tested SHERLOCK with four commercial prototypes. The outputs, analysis, and feedback from designers of the applications are presented.

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Index Terms:
Graphical User Interfaces, evaluation tools, consistency, textual and visual style, assessment tools, metrics.
Citation:
Rohit Mahajan, Ben Shneiderman, "Visual and Textual Consistency Checking Tools for Graphical User Interfaces," IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, vol. 23, no. 11, pp. 722-735, Nov. 1997, doi:10.1109/32.637386
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