Various Definitions of User Interface
- The part of a computer program that displays on the screen for the user to see
- A set of controls such as buttons, commands and other devices that allow a user to operate a computer program
- The part of an application that the end user sees on the screen and works with to operate the application, such as menus, forms and buttons
The Goldmine Rush
- Online Medium: A paradigm shift in the information dissemination approach
- Beating the success tape with ‘first to market’
To beat “first-mover” sites, competitors started loading truckloads of features, content, and so on, leading to complexities for end users.
- For a sustainable competitive advantage, focus on quality user experience
- It is user experience that forms the customer’s impression of the company’s offerings
- It is user experience that differentiates the company from its competitors
- It is user experience that determines whether your customer will ever come back
What Goes Into User Experience
Understanding every possible expectation and action that a user is likely to take is the key to User Experience.
The Various Elements of User Experience are:
- The Strategy Plane - Finding out the business and user objectives of any product or site.
- The Scope Plane – Translating user needs and site objectives into specific requirements.
- The Structure Plane – Defines the flow, which the users would possibly take.
- The Skeleton Plane – The placement of buttons, tabs, photos, and blocks of text.
- The Surface Plane – The layer with which a user interacts. This layer is made up of images and text. Some of these images and text might be attached to some function.
Creating Intuitive User Interfaces
From a usability perspective, site design is more challenging and important than page design.
- Should be designed differently from the rest of the pages
- Should answer the questions, such as, “Where am I?” and “What does this site do?”
- Should offer these three features:
- Directory of the site’s main content area (navigation)
- Summary of the most important news or promotions
- A search feature
Navigation – Should answer these three fundamental questions
- Where am I?
- Where have I been?
- Where can I go?
- Create site structure that reflects user’s view of the site and the information they are looking for
- Use icons in navigation only if it helps users to recognize items
- Show hierarchical path through breadcrumb navigation
- Give users an input box to enter search queries, instead of just giving a link
- Don’t offer a feature to “Search the Web” from the site’s search function
- Make search easily available from every single page of site
- Show page description and keywords in search results
Content Design – Writing for the web
- Use the inverted pyramid approach
- Be crisp and to the point
- Write for scannability
- Avoid redundant content
- Don’t use clever phrases that make users work too hard to figure them out
- Use consistent capitalization and other style standards
- Give the Page title on each page
- Emphasize legibility
Some Other Tips
- Use colors with high contrast between the text and the background and readable fonts
- Almost all text should be left-justified, avoiding continuous text in caps
- Offer enough information for user to avoid mistakes
- When errors occur, offer suggestions for recovery
- Error messages should be “polite” and not pin the blame on user
- Optimize your photos for the web.
- Label graphics and photographs if their meaning is not clear, use Alt Text with images
- Optimize video files. Use streaming options wherever possible
- When downloading, indicate file size
- Provide option to users to download any plug-ins.
- Use graphics to show real content, not just decorate your homepage.
- Never animate critical elements of a page such as the logo, tagline or main headline
- Web pages should be dominated by content of interest to the user
- To understand the grouping of information, provide adequate white space.
- Make your design compatible for various browsers like IE, Firefox, Safari, etc.
By Shubhankar Chakraborty