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Creating a simple and user-friendly interface


What is simplicity? That is the quality of being natural, clean and understandable. It is not surprising then that simplicity is commonly worshiped in user interface design. Most people naturally dislike complication in devices and applications. Of course, some people like finding out how something works, but for most of us, being unable to operate an interface leads to wasted time and frustration, and that's not what we are to achieve. If you can take a complicated piece of hardware or a software application and somehow [rearrange, reorganize and redesign] the GUI to make it easy to use and understand, then you're well on the way to providing a better user experience. One of the options you can use in your interface design is Context based controls. There are a few of attitudes you can take towards GUI design that lead to context and consistency. One dictates that you have to keep controls consistent throughout your applications or web portal to ensure that people know where things are and don't get mixed up. The other approach is to adjust key elements or navigation based on the context of each screen or window. The content based approach is one where you show only the stuff the individual needs to complete the task they're working in that particular context. A good illustration of the two approaches can be seen in the revision of the Microsoft Office interface. Office 2003, along with all the previous versions, used the design principle of leaving the controls unchanged. There was a bunch of buttons shown in the window constantly, and these didn't change whether you were working with tables, charts, text or images. Microsoft redesigned this interface for Office 2007 using a content based approach. At the top you now see a ribbon - or a number of buttons. When selected, each tab reveals a set of controls related to any specific task, be it spell checking, processing images, or just writing. The content related approach allows you to show fewer controls at any given time, but it also gives you more controls that are relevant to the current task. I wouldn't advice choosing a context-heavy approach for general web design because for most websites users want to see unchanging site-wide navigation. This is because every website is different, and it would make the browsing experience much harder if all the individual pages on a particular site were different too. Having said this, this can be utilized for web applications because they're not just simple websites - they're pieces of software that live in the cloud. People are likely to spend a lot of time on a web app and will have more opportunity to learn how it works. The complexity of some web apps means that you really need to utilize the context based approach, because if you don't, there will be too much on the screen at any given time for anyone to process. By showing only a few relevant controls for a given task, your users can figure out what to do in much less time.




 Standard Toolbar Icons

Standard Toolbar Icons

 Science Toolbar Icons

Science Toolbar Icons


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