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Published 13 Sep 2013

Basic Principles of NUI Design

By Dan Saffer

This is Dan Saffer's answer on Quora to the question: "What are the basic principles of NUI (Natural User Interface) design?".

Dan has written a whole book on the topic called Designing Gestural Interfaces where you can read a lot more about how to design NUI's.

Source: Answer on Quora

  1. Design for Fingers, not Cursors

    Touch targets need to be much larger than for desktop: 8-10mm for tips, 10-14mm for finger pads.

  2. Remember physiology and kinesiology

    Don't make users do overextensions or repetitive tasks.

  3. No gorilla arm

    Humans weren't meant to do many tasks with hands up in front of their bodies for long periods of time. Sorry Minority Report.

  4. Screen coverage

    Fingers are attached to a palm, which can cover the screen while you are trying to do a gesture. Avoid putting essential elements like labels below a control, as it can be obscured by the user's own hand. Place items like menus at the bottom of the screen to avoid this phenomenon.

  5. Know the technology

    The kind of touchscreen, sensor or camera determines the kind of gestures you can design for.

  6. The more challenging the gesture, the fewer people who will be able to (or want to) perform it.

  7. Trigger actions on release, not on press

  8. Attraction affordance

    Use a simple gesture to get users to start using the system.

  9. Avoid unintentional triggers

    A variety of everyday movements on the user's part can accidentally trigger the system. Avoid.

  10. Gestures and Command Keys

    Provide an easy (buttons, sliders, menu items, etc.) ways to access functionality, but provide advanced, learnable gestures as shortcuts.

  11. Requisite variety

    There's a wide range of ways to perform any gesture. Account for that.

  12. Match the complexity of the gesture to the complexity and frequency of the task

    Simple, frequently used tasks should have equally simple gestures to trigger them.

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