Common Themes in Design
Simplicity is key. The moment a user gets confused the first place their anger goes is the product. An interface should flow naturally, you shouldn’t have to stop for too long to think about how to do the next step. In Joshua Porter’s Principles of User Interface Design, Jane Portman’s Core Principles of UI Design, and Ben Schneiderman’s Eight Golden Rules of Interface Design we can find simplicity along with a few other key design principles common between them.
Consistency is another well defined principles found as a commonality. When reading these three articles you can see that consistency is the place where your unique designs can thrive. For instance, in an app if you have an icon that represents a certain call-to-action then you will want to reuse that icon many times, though it must be for the same purpose. Doing this allows you to create an icon that may be unique when compared to other apps while still staying consistent and simple to the user.
Furthering the app example, have you ever shown someone a cool app? Maybe they even liked it so much they also tried to download it but upon attempting to do so discovered it was unusable to them. Universal Usability is a principle that essentially states that your product should be used by even the extremely a-typical user. In a perfect world, your grandfather should even be able to use the app.
Not to mention the fact that when your grandfather uses it he should be getting some feedback to help guide him. When anything happens, even the seemingly insignificant things, some feedback should be apparent on the interface even if it too is insignificant.
Lastly, users should feed at home. They should think they have total control of the interface at all times, even though in reality they won’t. If a user doesnt know how to do something it should be made obvious to them. Since if they don’t understand something chances are they wont use it.
A Not So Perfect App — Slack
Slack is an app for group messaging. It is primarily used in business fields and with programmers, as such you can find some unusual functions on it from it ability to add on other apps as integrations. Below I will show how the app stands up in the common design principles.
Simplicity —As far as its base use, as a messaging app, goes it is very simple. It uses many conventional icons and messaging typography found in countless similar apps. However, when you start to use the part of slack that sets it a part, stuff gets messy. There isn’t explanation for how to use each integration and it can be difficult for beginners to even add them on in the first place, much less even know what you can add.
Consistency — The channels you use to message individual people, or groups of people, are very similar. Though once again the integrations all seem to act very differently in both their function, obviously, and their set of rules. Essentially meaning you must know all the different things each one can do and how to do it. In Wunderlist if you wish to add a task you type /wunderlist add [task]. While this is quite complex and inconsistent, it keeps the main confusion out of the users eye. In order to find all the functions you must go search for it where you found it meaning there won’t constantly be a list in your periphery of all the different functions cluttering everything. All in all it is quite consistent even when differentiating between a messaging channel and a person using a # versus a @ respectively.