Principles of User Interface

Principles that are guidelines

A product or service can be truly successful only when the cascade of the ornate intricacies and essential knowledge required to operate it, is smooth and the transition is done in a suave and easy manner. This is what form the backbone of a successful design and this is the area where we realize the importance of a good user interface.

In all of the articles, namely, “The Eight Golden Rules of Interface Design” by Ben Schneiderman, “Principles of User Interface Design” by Joshua Porter and “Core Principles of UI Design” by Jane Porterman, we can see a lot aspects that are gleamingly mutual in all three of them. It as the intersection of these aspects that we find the perfect workhorse, a design that if simple, easy-to-use, efficient, clear and effective.

Simple yet powerful is the key to a good design. The users should not get to know about all the complex algorithms, the powerful engines and the intense math calculations that occur to provide them with the best results. Instead the user interface should be such that the user gets a smooth experience with all of this happening behind the scenes. “Invisibility” and “hiding magic in plain sight” is something that designers should strive for.

Another concept that is quite evident throughout these articles is that there should little to no ambiguity in the mind of the users. Making things fancy and complex, and adding creativity to an otherwise simple process seldom works in real world scenarios. People like to see and use things that are already used to as it gives them a sense of familiarity. This in turn makes their experience easier and memorable.

Consistency is another important area in making an effective interface. Using congruent color schemes and symbols for functions that are similar in their function contributes to a successful user interface. At the same time, the opposite of this is also true. It is equally important to distinguish between different functions and features by intentionally introducing inconsistency.

At times, it may feel like a good user interface is one which is loaded with features and button and symbols for each and every step that the user takes. Informing the user more in a concise manner is key and comes only through regular practice.

Lastly, but certainly not the least, constructive feedback is imperative for an effective design. At any point, the user should not feel that it is the product that was intended to serve them, is in control. The users should know what is happening, why it is happening and should be made aware of the the consequences of the choices they make.

Let’s take a look at the Apple website for instance.

The very page users are greeted with when they apple.com

In this picture, we can see how the designers at apple put some key concepts like simplicity and providing accurate information in concise way at use. The picture is very well descriptive on its own and the banner images tell the browser about all the new products Apple has to offer. The images are big, clear and are placed at the center of the screen where users tend to look most often. At the top, the menu bar introduces the user what other products the website has to offer.

Informative display of information regarding a product

Here we see how the makers of the website and the UX designers use symbols that most of the browsers will be used to, to depict simple things. These are some those, in fact, which would otherwise text snippet which makes the process a bit longer than needed.

Feedback is important

This image perfectly signifies the importance of constructive feedback. The users on reaching the last screen, while buying an iPhone are greeted with a summary page. This tells them about all the specifications they opted for. It also gives them the option to include add-ons to the order. All these help the user to make a better and more informed decision. The buyer feels in control and therefore comfortable with the process.

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