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There are numerous factors affecting interface design, quite apart from the client and end-user requirements that need to be identified in the initial planning stages of a project. Design for TV display differs from design for computer screens; design for computer screen varies according to the capabilities of the playback platform; and design for each platform is affected by the development software available and by experience of that software. These considerations require that graphics are tested on the target display monitor often at all stages of development to spot problems. They also require that application performance is also tested often at all stages of development under conditions appropriate to the playback system, not just the development system. This is an area where design tools can be critical in reducing the numbers of problems facing interactive and screen designers.
Multimedia authoring tools offer some very flexible means to experiment with interface design. This is critical in an area where the possibilities afforded by the combination of media in an end-user-interactive environment are many and complex. Authoring tools liberate the designer by reducing the time (and cost) to get ideas onto the screen, and in a form that is easily manipulated. The following are examples of interfaces for mostly educational programs, designed using such tools.
Having played around with screen layouts comprising objects such as graphics, text, and buttons or other screen hot-spots, being able to output object coordinates is a particularly useful feature of some authoring packages. Unfortunately, this usually requires some scripting (in languages such as Hypertalk for Hypercard or Lingo for Macromedia Director). The data can makes programmers' jobs that little bit easier, where the authoring tool has been used for initial visualisation and storyboarding in advance of lower-level programming.
Tidy later ... Adding intelligence advice, options or branches are selected on the basis of what is known to the user their preferred mode of use level level of interest/ability what they have done so far