3D User Interfaces: Theory and Practice

Part IV: Designing and Developing 3D User Interfaces

Thus far, we have focused on the low-level components of 3D UIs— input/output devices and interaction techniques. Through the guidelines presented in each chapter, we have shown you how to choose devices and techniques for your application that match its requirements and that will result in high levels of usability.

But how do you put all of these components together? What do complete 3D UIs look like? How do you verify that your system is easy to use and efficient? The answers to these questions are the focus of Part IV.

We recommend a usability engineering process (Gabbard et al. 1999) when constructing 3D UIs. This type of process begins with requirements gathering—an analysis of the existing situation, the problems users are having, the tasks users need to perform, and the characteristics of the users themselves. Next, you develop the design of the system and its UI, and build one or more prototypes that represent the system. Finally, you evaluate the prototype to find usability problems and to assess the quality of your design. In addition, usability engineering uses an iterative process, with multiple design-prototype-evaluate cycles.

In this part of the book, we address parts of this process that are unique to 3D UIs. (For a good overall introduction to usability engineering, we recommend books by Rosson and Carroll, 2001, or Hix and Hartson, 1993.) Chapter 10 deals with the design phase. It presents general design approaches and specific UI strategies that have been proven to work well in 3D UIs—these approaches and strategies can serve as the foundation for a 3D UI design. In Chapter 11, we look at the evaluation of 3D UIs, surveying the distinctive characteristics of 3D UI evaluation and various approaches to assessing usability.

We do not explicitly cover the requirements analysis phase, since 3D UI requirements analysis is very similar to generic requirements analysis processes. We also do not discuss the details of 3D UI prototyping or implementation. The current state of development tools for 3D UIs is extremely dynamic and uncertain—there are hosts of 3D modeling tools, programming languages, integrated development environments, toolkits, and libraries for 3D applications. We have chosen to keep our discussion on a high level and focus on 3D UI design, since any specific development information we might present could quickly become obsolete.

Chapter 10: Strategies for Designing and Developing 3D User Interfaces
Chapter 11: Evaluation of 3D User Interfaces


Devoted to the design and evaluation of three-dimensional user interfaces