User interface, often abbreviated UI, is how the user and something, in this case an application or website, interact with each other. The user interface can be a set of menus and buttons that the user can interact with to navigate a website or application. How good a user interface is can make or break a website. In this day and age, if a website has poor user interface people will not even bother staying on the page. User interface should be of utmost importance when designing a website in order to maximize potential success.
The key in designing a good user interface that will make navigation easy is the commonly said phrase, “less is more.” A cluttered up and confusing menu will automatically frustrate people, and likely they will not be tolerant enough to put up with the poor design. Even if a website or application has a lot of information to store, sub menus akin to folders on a computer will do the trick. Imagine having all of the files on your computer stored in one folder called ‘Stuff’. This is essentially what a cluttered and overfilled user interface is like: unorganized and extremely frustrating to navigate.
It is okay to borrow and be influenced by ideas from other applications or websites (as long as there is no copyright on the design). For example, apple’s iOS, the software operating system that is used for iPhones, was the first mobile phone to get rid of the numerous buttons and implemented a touch screen. It became highly successful as a user interface, only having one all purpose physical button with a menu displaying all the mobile applications downloaded on the operating system. As the iPhone became more popular, other smartphone companies began to copy its touch screen interface and application menu set up.
Another important aspect of designing a good user interface is receiving feedback from clients or users and applying that to the website or application. Feedback, however constructive or critical, is still valuable feedback that all developers should consider when revamping a website. Developers should be constantly looking to update and improve their user interface, as trends within generations and people change overtime. People in this age have different tendencies than those of the previous generation, so a user interface should reflect these changes.
Another thing that creators can do for improving their user interface is conducting user experience research, abbreviated UX. User experience research is a technique that involves multiple rounds of testing different and random people to receive feedback and data on how to identify problems and optimize the user interface for people. Getting professional assistance from user experience researchers can have a large impact on the final user interface of a project.
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