24Jun2011

The best UI design is usually the simple one

Some of the features the UI (User Interface) professionals speak about sometimes look like being too difficult to grasp all their aspects. So keep in mind – the simpler, the better. Decide what you leave and what not, let only the really important features for the users’ attention.

The most important thing for your practice is so called progressive disclosure. Hide the menus and links the user doesn’t currently need. Give the user enough free space to work, and do not offer so many choices the user will get lost in them.

Let’s consider the Dropbox as an example of the good UI design. Here you can find a lot of commands; still the interactive state will have the following look:

When you’re working with file, the needed context menu will appear and perform the possible actions. When the file is closed, the menu hides at once.

All of this might seem easy; still it’s quite hard to apply this in case your web application offers really plenty of options. For example the “Edit” command – shall it appear on every file and item? Sometimes it’s hard to define the commands for some objects at all. Same goes about the text of the command – it shall be understandable still simple.

So the whole UI design process is the long line of micro-decisions about almost each and every aspect. Still remember the users will not come back if they already tried your application and didn’t like it. Also some changes in the interface can make them dislike the program too, so be careful.

The best policy with the UI design is keeping the things simple, so they will be easy to use. This way the user will focus on work and use your application as the practical help.

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