The user interface (UI) is the visual intermediary through which we interact with and control software on a computer. It’s what we see on our monitors and how we tell an application what to do with input devices. Having a good UI is essential to creating a great user experience (UX), which is the overall goal of any software or web developer.
The UI of a software application is comprised of the overall design of the client and how it controls the program. This includes the layout, the graphic design, the buttons, menus, and dozens of other aspects. The same can be said for the UI of a website, which similarly allows users to navigate the site through a web browser, as well as control a software as a service (SaaS) program.
Even if an application is programmed well and does its purpose well, if it has a bad UI, it’s not likely to be favored by users. Programs with bad UI are often confusing to use and not aesthetically pleasing.
“Designers focus on building interfaces users will find highly usable and efficient,” according to an article by the Interaction Design Foundation. “Thus, a thorough understanding of the contexts users will find themselves in when making those judgments is crucial. You should create the illusion that users aren’t interacting with a device so much as they’re trying to attain goals directly and as effortlessly as possible.”
When determining if an application or website has good UI, consider the following:
Form Matches Function?
When clicking a button, are you able to tell what it will do before clicking it? Whether it’s labeled with text or a graphic symbolizing its function, you shouldn’t be surprised by the result. This is key making an intuitive UI, that require little to none instruction for the user to use and navigate your application. There are plenty of universal symbols that most users who are familiar with computers will instantly recognize, such as a printer meaning it’s a button to print, a magnifying glass to zoom, and a padlock for locking.
For more complicated functions, it should be labeled with short text or in some cases, highlighting the button will bring up a hidden text box with the button’s function. Also, watch out for buttons that may not appear to be buttons until you click them.
Don’t Overload The User
Keeping things simple makes for a much better UI, rather than cramming all of the software’s functions into one screen. It’s confusing and looks messy. Look for software that looks clean and doesn’t assault the user with an overload of information and input options. Having collapsable, easy to find and navigate menus where you can store buttons are visually more appealing.
Is it Consistent?
Keeping the general design and aesthetic consistent throughout the UI not only looks more professional, but it will keep the users from getting confused and lost within the application. You can tell if an application is only partly updated if you stumble onto a screen that looks wildly different in design than the previous one.
Does it Keep You Informed?
So if you did happen to click a page element that you weren’t exactly sure of, how did the program respond? Did it actually inform you of what just happened, or are you left puzzled about what you actually did? It’s also important for the interface to double-check with the user when performing a crucial function, like saving or deleting something.
While form does follow function, the form is still an important aspect of designing software. This is essential, especially when it comes to software that powers your business and that employees use on a daily business. eFileCabinet is a document management service that takes pride in its intuitive UI to help companies organize their files and automate workflows. Fill out the below form to view a free demo and see eFileCabinet’s UI in action.