WIMPAn acronym for Windows, Icons, Mice, and Pull-down menus.
This is the standard Mac/Windows user interface first thought up at Xerox.
In theory, they are good for novices because they are highly visible. However, mice are inefficient compared to keyboards for most things; Pull-down menus reduce visibility by hiding commands; and worst of all, windows are Modal. This means that, though it's possible that a novice might find the interface pleasant, an expert would be losing great amounts of time.
Icons can be useful, but only when accompanied with text. If used alone, their meaning is often confusing and ambiguous. When added to text they increase pointing efficiency (by increasing the size of the clickable area) and can be aesthetically pleasing.
And this is considering the ideal case, which existing WIMPs fall far short of.
Basically, this paradigm is tolerable for novices and awful for experts.
"windows are, in a sense, modes in sheep's clothing"-- seaslug
--Larry Tesler of Xerox PARC
I want to moderate, not oppose, this reasoning. If taken to extreme this contrast, keyboard vs mouse, is a nonsense. In particular if using a keyboard means lack of visibility then the time saved up using a keyboard is nothing compared to the time spent in trying to remember an arcane command or sequence of keys: anyone is a neophyte with respect to some less frequently used parts of a system/application.
In such case at least 2 options are possible:
- for a rare use a point-and-click interface, if well designed, is a good compromise;
- for a less casual use habituation plays its role: it is important a consistent and unified interface, so that is possible to reuse knowledge of other parts of the system in the form of generic, widely applicable, abstract operators/methods.
Anyway I consider "optimal" an adaptive interface, one which helps, when necessary, a smooth transition from neophyte to expert status (no, I'm not thinking about these stupid menu items that suddenly disappear). -- Mad70