User Interface Design refers to the production of the system Users will interact with. This can be a website, a content management system, applications, software, wireless devices and more.
I will cover 5 common mistakes website developers make when designing the user’s system.
Although this topic is extensive with many advance principles, I will try to cover these mistakes generally when related to website design.
Principles for software and physical gadgets will not be touched on in this guide. And after identifying problem areas I will outline several improvement techniques you can use to increase usability on your website.
The navigation of your website is difficult to understand. Various items are not related or collated properly and seems jumbled.
Users are often frustrated when moving through the site and bump up to screens they didn’t expect. Often there is a learning curve which increases demand for support.
Labels & Messages
Labels are confusing. Success and error messages are vague and not informative enough. Users don’t understand what is being asked or what is being stated.
They are stuck making guesses about what just happened or have to take a risk when moving through screens. This makes users feel like they have no control.
The screen is hard to look at and strain the eyes. The background color is too bright or the text doesn’t stand out enough.
The color combination seems ugly and displeasing. Indicators and sections are not properly marked and distinguishable.
Simplicity of Use
Users find it difficult to get to the areas they want. Often moving through several screens and moving back and forth to complete a simple task.
The system is hard to learn or understand even after several visits. There are no quick routs to important and commonly used areas. There are also no apparent guiding instructions or labels.
When a user makes a mistake there is no recovery or fallback options.
Double clicking on payment buttons create double charges or create duplicate entries. Sometimes the use of a character throws the whole system off or causes warnings.
The abandonment of forms for previous screens is almost impossible. The system locks up with hyper movement through screens.
These are 5 common mistakes Developers make when creating a User Interface. It is important that these problems are addressed before production begins. Understanding how your system will be employed by your users is critical to success.
Next I will expand on these points and provide some solutions to help improve the overall usability of your website or web application.
How to improve usability of a website, have happy users and increase revenues.
The point of a good design is to make the interface easy to use and fulfill the users needs.
Moving through your website or web application screens should be simple. Using the system should not be difficult or leave a person frustrated.
The movement from one item to another should be logical and almost predictable. The physical layout should conform to Western standards; that is text is done from left to right and top to bottom.
When designing the navigational structure of your application, several considerations must be taken. The movement of the users as they go from one screen to the next. This is called flow.
Drawing a flow diagram will allow you to visualize the necessary steps a user must take to fulfill the use of the system correctly.
Build the navigation in a way that directs the user from one item to the next. Group similar options together and enforce a Hierarchy or separation of controls. Clearly defining main sections from subsections.
It it also important that the navigation options are easy to see and use.
This leads into design of the labels and messages. When something happens based on the users input, give some sort of signal that it was a successful change or an error occurred.
These signals must be properly communicated and fully understood by the user. All items must be properly labeled so the user knows where they are in the program. This entails not just adding labels and messages, but making it clear and not vague.
As for color choices, this is usually obvious but mistakes are common.
Colors should contrast or balance each other. Dark background demands light text, and dark text needs light backgrounds. Some people may have problems seeing colors, in this case another way of making colored items stand apart is critical.
One set of colors should be used through out the site. This helps maintain consistency.
Making commonly used and important tasks easy to complete, navigate to and understand will effect the overall ease of use of your system.
Menus and screens should be logically presented and predictable to some degree. Guides and instructions must be presented for complex transactions between the user and the system. And also simplification of forms and multi-screen processes.
If a user should make a mistake there should be an attempt to provide the ability to undo changes. Double clicks should be suppressed and ignored unless intended otherwise.
There must be some advance filtering of input data to reject special characters that may throw an error or produce undesirable results.
Users often abandon forms and try to go back to the previous screens. This must be allowed to some degree, but not forgetting security considerations.
Sometimes a user will hyper surf, jumping from screen to screen above normal speeds. Some kind of cache should be in effect to reduce server loads for screens previously loaded in the same session.
This is just a general overview of how to improve your User Interface design. Make it easy to use, easy to understand and this will improve usability. Consider the user and their movements through the system. Provide clear labels and messages and provide a fail safe for misuse.