2.3 Adhere to the operating system user interface guidelines

All operating systems have standard user interface guidelines defined by the authors. These describe how applications can achieve the correct "look and feel". Look and feel covers things like:

  • Positioning and ordering of window and dialog box elements
  • Shape, size and spacing of buttons, fields and checkboxes
  • Use of standard components such as the File and Edit menus and the Save and Save As commands

Applications should follow these guidelines. Similar guidelines are:

  • 1.4 Adhere to the standard keyboard access methods


Following user interface guidelines ensures that an application's look and feel has as much in common with other applications as possible. This makes it easier to learn and use, because users can rely on previous experience with other applications to help them activate functions and interpret outputs.

This is a major benefit all users. In particular, it greatly helps users who have cognitive impairments. It also greatly helps visually impaired users who find it easier to use an application if they can rely on rote learning of specific operations, rather than having to perceive everything.

If the application does not follow user interface standards, users will have to learn new methods which may take a long time and lead to frequent errors.

Directions and Techniques

Refer to the official operating system user interface style guide

Most operating systems and user interface environments have published look and feel guidelines.
Microsoft Windows User Interface Guidelines
Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines
Motif and CDE 2.1 Style Guide
KDE User Interface Guidelines
GTK+/Gnome Application Development Manual
Sun Java Look and Feel Design Guidelines

Use the standard user interface toolkit

The easiest way to adhere to user interface guidelines is to use the standard user interface toolkit or widget set, rather than create custom interface components for the application.

How you could check for this:

There are no specific test methods recommended for this guideline.