FOCUS: A prototype of graphical user interface.

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The original purpose of this project was to find a more universal and intuitive way to work with computers. I tried to develop a more user-friendly environment for anyone who wants to use the PC and, at the same time, I wanted to explore to what extent our unconscious western ways led us to take interfaces as universal.

In this document there is a general explanation of the process I followed during the MA course in connection to the knowledge and the techniques required to be able to have a solid point of view about Graphical Interfaces. The starting point of this MA is to detect the actual problems that popular interfaces are having. There is in this introduction a brief history of graphical user interfaces.

After this introduction, there is the description of the aims and objectives, involving a list of the main subjects I have been working on and investigating to find out better solutions. I explain there the main exercises I have set up in order to be able to have a better understanding on actual interfaces and how I discovered projects that, for one reason or another, point towards a better solution for actual interfaces. The inspiring authors and projects are an important part for the result project, together with the field research involving interviews and observation of users about actual GUI. It is in this chapter where the methodology used for this project is explained in detail.

Finally, I explain the resulting project, underlining the most innovative things and also taking into consideration the limitations of some of the developed parts. On the other hand, I have to admit I did not have enough time and resources to entirely develop a working prototype that might be tested on users.

I have, also, added some closing remarks and the future areas of research I intend to follow in order to enrich and develop a usable FOCUS interface prototype.

The MA process

This Master Course have been a very motivating experience in terms of finding out that I could research in a very wide range of subjects related to design. As a teacher and a web designer I have found that most of the problems that people have are related to the comprehension of the interfaces and the interactivity involved in websites. Most of my students start without really knowing what does interface means, and end up understanding that it is one of the most important part of designing a project if whether we talk about internet, application design, or interactive presentations.

It is mainly for this reason, and also because of my frustration working with the actual OS GUI, that I decided to focus my research on how to understand them better and how to find out different and clear ways to interact and display information in a hypothetical operating system.

Bearing this in mind I wrote the Independent Learning Plan involving several outcomes, some of them centred on the history and the actual projects related to the design of interfaces, some of them more focused on finding new ideas, based on field research and, finally, a proposal of solutions documented in two written works and a graphical interactive presentation of these ideas, shown in the MA Final Show, last September.

While enrolled in this MA I have been able to investigate in a deeper way authors that I knew already, like Otto Neurath, John Maeda or Javier Echeverría, to discover new personalities that have become part of my research like Marissa Meyer, Aza Rasking or Jef Hann and I have also done a lot of field research involving people who are not specialists on computers but that are common users of the technology for their daily work.

As follow-ups to the research I have prepared some exhibitions of the project in Spain, published some of the outcomes on my blog, and invited my colleagues to link that on their web pages. Finally, I applied a Creative Commons license to the project to license it under an open project ready to be developed by other open source communities.

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