A Taxonomy of User-Interface Metaphors


Authors: Pippin Barr, Robert Biddle, James Noble, Elvis Software Design Research Group ~
Source: GZipped PostScript (36kb); Adobe PDF (261kb)

Although metaphor is a commonly used device in the design of user-interfaces, it is not rigorously understood, and most guidance stops at the recommendation of its use. In this paper we seek to provide a systematic taxonomy of user-interface metaphors, based on and extending the framework of Lakoff and Johnson. We then suggest that some usability heuristics emerge directly from analysis of the taxonomy. We conclude that the taxonomy and heuristics may provide appreciable benefits in user-interface design and evaluation, and address some of the criticisms of metaphor use that have been made.

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