Contextual User Interfaces: Neuer Trend?

Auf ReadWriteWeb gibt’s einen interessanten Artikel zum Thema Contextual User Interfaces:

Strikingly, the recent wave of UI innovation is proving exactly the opposite. Users are not stupid, and in fact, they were overwhelmed with choices presented in traditional UIs. The new interfaces are winning people over because they are based on usage patterns instead of choices. The key thing about new UIs is that they are contextual – presenting the user with minimal components and then changing in reaction to user gestures. Thanks to Apple, we have seen a liberating movement towards simplistic, contextual interfaces. But can these UIs become the norm? In this post we take a look at the rise of the contextual UI and ponder if they will cross the chasm.

Sind diese User Interfaces aus eurer Sicht etwas Neues? Meiner Meinung nach gab es so etwas, zumindest ansatzweise, schon früher. In den Kommentaren wird ja auch auf den Aufgabenbereich von Microsoft Office 2003 verwiesen (im Screenshot rot markiert). Neu ist allerdings das Ausmaß der Reduktion von Interface Elementen. Office zeigt ja neben dem Aufgabenbereich auch alle anderen Menüs an und bietet so zwei verschiedene Zugänge an.

der Aufgabenbereich von MS Office


Direct Manipulation in Microsoft Word 2007 :

Word 2007

Published by

Jörg Linder

User Experience consultant, web addict. working at . check my profile at

3 thoughts on “Contextual User Interfaces: Neuer Trend?”

  1. I don’t see these interfaces as “contextual”, but rather as personalised or as adapting to tasks and user activities. literature out there asks the question: what is context? I see it as more than just “what I’m doing now on my desktop”. My context are also my mental models, my surroundings, etc., so something that is individual and changing. Can a UI really understand my objectives? If not, if the UI offers me the wrong stuff, then it can be really annoying. Reduced, “context-aware” interfaces have to make the right assumptions at the right time about what their user wants . Otherwise, I see people complaining and switching off functionalities that adapt/change the UI. Adaptive UIs are not new and I think they are not the norm yet because they don’t do a good enough job.

  2. I think there are at least some situations where UIs can be directed by context. Look at the Word example from above: If I start up Word, it makes perfect sense that the UI offers functions like create a new document, open an existing one and so on. The examples shown in ReadWriteWeb’s article are more like direct manipulation, in my opinion. The users chooses an item (for example a book or a photograph), and the UI offers functions like “do wou want to read this book” or “print this picture”, in or near the element. The other option would be to offer these functions inside a menu, like when you highlight some text in Word and then open up the menu bar to make it bold. This makes it harder to interact with the element, but of course you can’t always put all functions in or near an element.

    Microsoft has done some good work regarding this in Word 2007, btw. If you highlight one or more words, it shows you some options near the word. This box vanishes as soon as you leave the ighlighted area with the cursor. I’ve attached an image to the post above since WordPress doesn’t allow me to include pictures in comments  … -> Erhard? 🙂

  3. @ jörg: I’m sure there is a plugin available for ‘pictures in comments’, but I am not sure if this is really common … let’s talk next tuesday about it.

    I agree with the autor of that these contextual functions became a trend towards the huge amount of features in e.g. windows 2003.

    And since it’s technically possible these trends also found their way to web applications, where huge amounts of functionality are normally not usual. I personally do like the opportunity to get access to e.g. “top three” functions with one mouse click (e.g. Embed, Share, Play, …).

    Last but not least Windows 2007 also goes in the direction of contextual intefaces, and shows how these trend can be implemented with bigger amounts of functionality (than e.g. a web video player has).

    So my answer to the question “Can Contextual UIs Go Mainstream?” is “They are already mainstream”.

Comments are closed.