As the figures above show, there is a distinct difference in the icons designed by the two teams as well as in the pattern of preference shown by the potential customers. In subsequent surveys where text labels were added to the AB icons, almost all the participants indicated a preference for the icons designed for Product AB over the icons for Product Y. The survey and subsequent usability evaluation led Team Y to redesign their UI and even though they were working with an existing product, it took the team three times longer than Team AB to launch their product in the China market.
Presently, UI developers take display quality as a given and tend to focus their effort on making the software component of their UI intuitive. However, with handheld devices, display quality becomes a primary concern because of its impact on usability. As we have highlighted above, current HCI guidelines do not address this and the other issues we have described earlier. Compounding this is the product manufacturer's desire to provide a "common look and feel" identity to its family of products. Of course, this is clearly motivated by the economy of scale as much as the need to build up brand awareness and customers loyalty. However, as we have learnt, modifying an existing product for a different market -- and not starting the UI design on a blank sheet of paper - can in fact lead to a lengthier and more costly product development cycle. The challenges we have encountered in the design of UIs for communication devices like pagers and handphones may appear to be unique problems encountered by a small number of professionals in the business. However, with the proliferation of devices like palm and/or pocket-sized PCs and the continual miniaturization of these products, the challenges and the constraints which we have described here will be encountered more widely.
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Shneiderman, B. ( 1992). Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human/Computer Interaction. ( 2nd edition). Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley.