Principles of User Interface Design

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					In order to improve the quality of user interface designs an interface designer should
be mindful of the principles of user interface design. According to Larry Constantine
and Lucy Lockwood, these are: The structure principle – This is concerned
with the overall user interface architecture and layout. An interface design should be
organized in a way that is clear, apparent and intuitive to users. This should be based
on a consistent model that structurally puts related things together and separates
unrelated things. In other words similar things should somewhat resemble each other.
For example, toolbar buttons should all look like toolbar buttons. The simplicity
principle – The interface design should make simple, common tasks easy,
communicating clearly and simply in the user's own language, and providing good
shortcuts that are meaningfully related to longer procedures. In this vein a search bar
with the word ‘Search’ is usually better than a convoluted
‘Quick Keyword Search’. The visibility principle – All the
options and tools needed to accomplish given tasks should be visible and easily
accessible on the interface design without distracting the user with redundant
information. The feedback principle – A good interface design, like a good
doctor, should keep users informed of actions or interpretations, changes of condition
or errors that are relevant through clear and concise language. This helps users feel in
control of the process by being aware of their actions. The tolerance principle –
The interface design or rather the system behind it should be able to accommodate a
certain amount of failure from users (users, just like interface designers, are not
infallible). A wrong click or some such other should be rectifiable. A good example of
this are undo and redo features that allow users to effectively time-travel through their
steps. This reduces the costs of mistakes and the accompanying stress and frustration
that come with it. The reuse principle – Your interface design should reuse
internal and external components and behaviors, maintaining consistency with
purpose rather than merely arbitrary consistency, thus reducing the need for users to
rethink and remember. This is also referred to as the memorability of an interface
How to ensure that User Interface Design principles guide the interface design process
To ensure that these principles guide the interface design process and lead to optimal
results, the use of wireframing tools can be indispensable when it comes to the
iterative process of creating successful interface designs. Often, the large number of
stakeholders with various levels of technical expertise in the design process requires
the use of such tools for visualizing requirements and concepts. Tools suitable for
wireframing, such as Pidoco, a cloud-based wireframe tool that works through a
browser, allow interface designers to create wireframe prototypes of graphical user
interfaces with drag and drop simplicity without the need to know any programming.
Interface designers can then collaborate within a team through the cloud and get
feedback from sharing prototypes, even going as far as conducting remote usability
testing. Using such an approach, optimizing human computer interaction becomes a
much easier, safer and more efficient process with reliable results.
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