Usability principles and best practices for the user interface design of complex 3D architectural design and engineering tools

Ghang Lee, Charles M. Eastman, Tarang Taunk, Chun Heng Ho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


This study proposes usability principles for the user interfaces (UI) design of complex 3D parametric architectural design and engineering tools. Numerous usability principles have been developed for generic desktop or web applications. The authors tried to apply existing usability principles as guidelines for evaluating complex 3D design and engineering applications. However, the principles were too generic and high-level to be useful as design or evaluation guidelines. The authors, all with more than 10 or 30 years of experience with various CAD systems, selected and reviewed 10 state-of-the-art 3D parametric design and engineering applications and captured what they thought were best practices, as screenshots and videos. The collected best practices were reviewed through a series of discussion sessions. During the discussion sessions, UI design principles underlying the collected best practices were characterized in the line of existing UI principles. Based on the best practices and the derived common UI principles, a new set of refined and detailed UI principles were proposed for improving and evaluating 3D parametric engineering design tools in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-104
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Human Computer Studies
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Jan

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Resnick, M., Myers, B., Nakakoji, K., Shneiderman, B., Pausch, R., Selker, T., and Eisenberg, M. (2005). Design principles for tools to support creative thinking. Workshop on Creativity Support Tools Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Washington, DC. 〈 〉.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Education
  • Engineering(all)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Hardware and Architecture


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