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Towards Semantically-Aware UI Design Tools: Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of Semantic Grouping Guidelines

Peitong Duan
Bjoern Hartmann
Karina Nguyen
Marti Hearst
ICML 2023 Workshop on Artificial Intelligence and Human-Computer Interaction (2023)


A coherent semantic structure, where semantically-related elements are appropriately grouped, is critical for proper understanding of a UI. Ideally, UI design tools should help designers establish coherent semantic grouping. To work towards this, we contribute five semantic grouping guidelines that capture how human designers think about semantic grouping and are amenable to implementation in design tools. They were obtained from empirical observations on existing UIs, a literature review, and iterative refinement with UI experts’ feedback. We validated our guidelines through an expert review and heuristic evaluation; results indicate these guidelines capture valuable information about semantic structure. We demonstrate the guidelines’ use for building systems by implementing a set of computational metrics. These metrics detected many of the same severe issues that human design experts marked in a comparative study. Running our metrics on a larger UI dataset suggests many real UIs exhibit grouping violations.