Metaphor-Based Design of High-Throughput Screening Process Interfaces

Peer-reviewed Article

pp. 190-210


This paper describes work on developing usable interfaces for creating and editing methods for high-throughput screening of chemical and biological compounds in the domain of life sciences automation. A modified approach to metaphor-based interface design was used as a framework for developing a screening method editor prototype analogous to the presentation of a recipe in a cookbook. The prototype was compared to an existing screening method editor application in terms of effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction of novice users and was found to be superior.

Practitioner’s Take Away

  • Metaphors can be a powerful tool for guiding interface design in specific domains. They enable users to map knowledge from a familiar source domain to an unfamiliar target domain, thus they are particularly useful for novices.
  • The combination of formalized CTA methods with existing frameworks for developing metaphor-based interfaces can be helpful in developing, evaluating, and refining an appropriate metaphor.
  • Mismatches between software environments and the real-world analog defining a design metaphor can be effectively addressed by using composite metaphors, including object and process references.
  • Metaphor-based interfaces can significantly promote system usability, in particular effectiveness, efficiency, and user satisfaction in complex systems.