>how to let a wireless user know exactly what they are doing at any given time

Nokia cellphones (like the 61xx series) number their menus. Hit Menu,
then use up- and downarrow keys to find the menu you want, then
Select, then scroll through the *sub*menus, then on deeper and
deeper. But all menu and submenu items are numbered, so you might end
up with an entry like 3-1-2-5-1-2.

This is an implicit declaration of failure, IMO. Nokia is relying on two UIs:

* Names of menus and submenus, which are supposed to be
self-revealing in an ever-expanding way. You are supposed to know
that changing the code to hide or show your number via caller ID
resides under Features, then Calls, then Number, then Show/Hide
Number. As you tick from one increment to the next, your path is
supposed to be obvious. (Guess what: It isn't.)

* Allegedly for power users, you can just type the numbers:
3-1-2-5-1-2. In reality, few power users are going to make use of a
command frequently enough to remember the codes. And more likely,
people who have occasional recourse to a feature they need--
infrequently, but when they need it, they *really* *need it*-- will
get exasperated by being unable to find it the first time, then
consult the manual, then get it right the second time, then write
down the number sequence so they don't have to go through the hassle

I read somewhere that the cellphone makers-- and only Nokia, Sony,
and Qualcomm have anything resembling a real UI, IMO-- have figures
showing that usability of a feature decreases 50% with each
successive keystroke needed to get at it. So 3-1-2-5-1 is twice as
likely to be used as 3-1-2-5-1-2.

With limited inputs-- essentially, cellphone users are reduced to a
keypad plus the equivalent of a 1989-era quadriplegic sip-n-puff
switch-- and next to no screen real estate, there may be no elegant
and usable way to map multiple functions to cellphones.

Unless you were smart and adopted principles from adaptive technology
and focused on tasks vs. methods. For example, some early adaptive
tech for mobility-impaired users emulated moving the mouse to the
menubar and pulling a menu down when in reality what you want to do
is *select the command*. Newer products cut to the chase. (This is
Fraser Shein's approach, BTW, at the Bloorview MacMillan Centre.) A
proper cellphone interface would:

* Provide a Greatest Hits of useful commands that really benefit a
user but are hard to find under the coldly rational breadcrumb
approach of menus and submenus.

* Remember the last n commands you executed and let you select them
from a menu. (For extra credit, speak the commands out loud so you
can do it hands-free.)

>  and create some continuity between the wireless and pc experience.

Give that up. They aren't comparable.

>  also i'm running into trouble naming the task of creating
>form entries you can use to populate later forms.

What's the problem? The names are internal, for developers only. If
text I entered has to come up later on in a process, the phone should
automatically have filled it in for me based on previous input.

           Joe Clark
           [log in to unmask]
           <> (updated 2000.02.13)