UI: The True Definition of “User-Friendly”

by Applied Informatics

user friendly interface

Leonardo da Vinci once famously said, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” For developers, this is an easy concept to comprehend, since they try to write code that not only completes a process efficiently, but also keeps it easy to read. Consequently, other coders can easily absorb, adapt, and implement their versions seamlessly on top of the existing codebase. User interfaces (UI) should be designed with a similar mindset. The UI must make the user feel that every action they take is second nature by possessing key attributes that include; ease of access, pleasantly aesthetic, predictability, intuitiveness, etc.

Know the user 

While designing an interface, the developer must keep in mind to use elements that are consistent and predictable. For example, if an user must input information for an application process, he/she will expect a progress bar detailing how many more steps to complete. Furthermore, the input fields must be intuitive, such as date fields containing a pop up calendar to enter dates. Some fields may even be filled out as a default to reduce burden on the end-user.  Also, a common finality all users expect, is a confirmation page at the end. As a result, the users will complete their tasks with satisfaction and optimal efficiency. Keeping these aspects in mind any developer can develop a user-friendly process that mitigates errors.

Clutter creates Confusion

It is commonly stated that the best interfaces are near invisible to the user. A good designer establishes a pattern within the layout of the entire site. Thus, the user will be able complete certain processes with little to no learning curve. Also, a good rule of thumb when designing a site with many pages is to structure the pages based on importance. Keep the most important elements near the center of the page to aid the user in readability. Using different colors also improves readability and efficiency. A contrast in colors , fonts, and sizes focuses the user’s attention to the most important parts of the page. Most importantly, label clearly the purpose of every element and avoid unnecessary elements at all costs.

A good practice to master, while developing your site, is to maintain a log of all the improvements made. (TIP: This can achieved by clearly stating what was done in git messages, while using git-based repositories). Documenting every little step provides many benefits not only to the user and future coders, but helps the developer as well. If something unexpectedly goes wrong, it is easy to go back and solve the issues. 

Following the steps mentioned above, leads to less headaches for all involved and the users will be happy customers!!

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