Ability to describe oneself

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The ability to describe oneself is a design criterion for the ergonomic design of the user interface of software products. The criterion is fulfilled if it is clear to the user at all times where he is, what actions can be carried out and how, and help is available for the respective dialog step.

By ensuring the ability of a website to describe itself, users are able to use it intuitively and correctly. The ability of a website to describe itself is ensured when the 4 points of orientation, controllability, feedback and assistance are met.


Orientation :

Orientation points must be offered to the user on every page and during every process so that he always knows exactly where he is and / or how far he is from his actual goal. Design patterns such as: Breadcrumb , Progress and Steps Left are used to solve this problem .


For visitors to a website, navigation elements must be clearly recognizable through their design. Furthermore, it must be clear to the user where a navigation element leads. A page can only be controlled and controlled by a user when it is possible to navigate accurately. Design patterns for the solution would be: Top Navigation Bar and Left Navigation Bar.


If the visitor receives feedback on the success of a previously carried out action, a feeling of security arises, which is essential for building trust. A design pattern for this is: shopping cart.


More complex tasks are difficult to cope with, especially for inexperienced visitors. Such tasks should be supported with special aids or documentation for the system. The following design patterns: Hover Invitation, Tooltip Invitation.

European Standard

Self-descriptiveness is defined in the DIN EN ISO 9241-110 standard: A dialogue is self-descriptive to the extent that it is clear to the user at all times in which dialogue, at which point he is, which actions can be taken and how these can be executed.

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