Menus and Pointers and Gadgets, Oh My!

Widgets and Accessibility

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Two text input boxes along with a radio button.
Credit: National Weather Service/NOAA,


Now onto the nuts and bolts of the interfaces we use daily. What are they made of? The generic term for windows, menus, radio buttons, check boxes, icons and the like are "widgets." 


Required Reading
  1. Read and become familiar with any widget with which you are not familiar in Wikipedia's widget page.

Here's Wikepedia's list of widgets.

  • Selection
    • Button
      • Toggle button
      • Check box
      • Radio button
    • Slider
    • List box
    • Spinner
    • Drop-down list
    • Menu
      • Context menu
      • Pie menu
    • Toolbar
    • Ribbon
    • Combo box (text box with attached menu or List box)
    • Icon
    • Tree view
    • Grid view
  • Navigation
    • Tab
    • Scrollbar
  • Text input
    • Text box (edit field)
    • Combo box (tent box with attached menu)
  • Output
    • Label
    • Tooltip
    • Balloon help
    • Status bar
    • Progress bar
    • Infobar
  • Window
    • Modal window
    • Dialog box
    • Palette window, also known as "Utility window"
      • Inspector window
      • Drawer
      • HUD similar to HUD (computer gaming)    
Comment Did most of these seem familiar? When in your software-using career did you learn these terms? Should knowing these terms be "required" of high level users of software? Why or why not?


Those widgets can sometimes be challenging to navigate and many of us will find and use other options, such as those on the keyboard, to complete a task. Those with disabilities can also find challenge in user interfaces; the good news is some good choices in design can make software more accessible to all. Read the following to get a sense of the possible challenges disabled users face and some available solutions and options.


Required Reading
  1.  Read Emerging GIS Technology and Accessibility: Online Mapping for Everyone by Chris Andrews.


Amusement If you need a laugh and have not seen enough poor interfaces, visit the BUI Gallery (Bad User Interface Gallery) [] or the  Interface Hall of Shame [].