“Making It Macintosh:The Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines Companion” by Alben and Saddler

  • ©Lauralee Alben and Harry J. Saddler


Entry Number: 02


    Making It Macintosh:The Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines Companion

Program Title:

    Designing Technology




    Making it Macintosh: The Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines Companion is an interactive instructional product designed and developed by Apple Computer, Inc. Making it Macintosh uses computer-based animation and interaction to document the Macintosh user interface, illustrate human interface design issues, and provide interface implementation strategies software developers.

    Making it Macintosh demonstrates that quality, clarity, and ease of use in interactive media and by extension, any computer software) is facilitated by the early and full participation of skilled designers in the development process. An interactive media development effort must include team members experienced with a welter of technologies: digital video, sound, text, data retrieval, computer-based animation, programming, and scripting. Taken together, these skills and technologies will produce interactive media that is both stable and efficient. But to achieve real communication requires not only technologists, but competent designers as well.

    Beginning with an idea and a commitment to design quality, the project brought together technologists with little design training and graphic designers with little interactive media experience produce a remarkable and effective product. We thus offer (at least) two lessons: first, that the early commitment to design is borne out, and second, that successful designer/technologist collaboration happens day-by-day and decision-by-decision, from the beginning of the project to the end.

    Our installation at SIGGRAPH traces the development of Making it Macintosh from project planning and team building through prototyping and implementation. We use this history to explore the intersection of design and technology, examine the relationship of designers to technologists, and ask if such distinctions are even valid in the realm of interactive media development.

    Other aspects of the design and development process that are highlighted:

    • Design goals, successive design evolution, and the final design solutions
    • The effect of technical capabilities and constraints on design
    • The application of the design concept to all components of the product
    • Human interface issues in interactive media
    • Are usability and interactivity new graphic design concepts?
    • The roles and interactions of graphic, interface, and instructional designers
    • Technologists and designers learning to use each other’s tools

    The released version of Making It Macintosh:The Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines Companion will also be available for demonstration and hands-on interaction.


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