In his work, Najjar attempts to describe empirically based principles that multimedia user interface designers can use to better the learning outcomes from educational multimedia applications. He sets out to redress shortcomings in multimedia user interface design guidelines by basing them on empirical research rather than on the opinions of experts. He researches a number of factors that influence learning outcomes in multimedia applications, and lists the findings.
This is quite a novel approach, especially in multimedia, where very little research as been conducted into how the message encapsulated in the media is received, perceived, and acted upon by the audience.
Najjar concludes, “Designers should use closely related verbal and pictorial information together, and build in tasks that encourage users to elaborateively process the information”. Illustrations and other media should support the accompanying text, and illustrations should not be used just for the sake of including a graphic. The choice of medium to suit the message is also important, as the effectiveness of media is quite application-specific. Najjar also advocates that the user interface be made intuitive, as the user interface has a significant positive effect when learning from multimedia. His conclusions not only ring true when viewed from a logical point of view, but are also backed up by the findings of well-known researchers in the field. These findings can be applied by multimedia designers to improve the quality and effectiveness of their products.
Although he adds the caveat that these principles should be used with caution as they are largely untested, the principles set out in his work appear to be able to withstand the rigors of being tested in actual use.
Najjar, L. J. (1998). Principles of educational multimedia user interface design. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 40(2), 311-323.