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Creating a simple and user-friendly interface

What is simplicity? Simplicity is the property of being natural, plain and intuitive. It is not unexpected then that simplicity is commonly thrived for in user interface design. People intuitively dislike confusion in hardware and applications. Of course, a few people like figuring out how something works, but for the major population, being unable to correctly use an interface leads to wasted time and frustration, and that's not a good thing. If you are able to take a complicated device or a piece of software and by some means [rearrange, reorganize and redesign] the interface 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 GUI design is Context based controls. There are a couple of approaches you can use in interface design that lead to context and unity. One suggests that you have to keep key elements similar throughout your software or web portal to ensure that users know where everything is and don't get confused. The other approach is to modify controls or navigation depending on the context of each screen or window. The context based approach is one where you show only the items the user needs to do the task they've approached in that single context. A good example of the two attitudes can be seen in the recent redesign of the Microsoft Office interface. Office 2003, as well as all the previous versions, followed the design principle of keeping things consistent. There was a bunch of buttons displayed in the window constantly, and the controls didn't change no matter if you were working with columns, graphics, text or images. Microsoft redesigned this interface in the release of Office 2007 using a context related approach. At the top you now see a ribbon - or a number of buttons. When clicked upon, each tab reveals a pack of controls relevant to any particular task, be it proofreading, processing graphics, or simply writing. The context related approach enables you to show fewer buttons at any given time, but at the same time, more controls that are relevant to the current task. I wouldn't recommend choosing a context-heavy approach for all-purpose web interface design because for most webpages people expect to see constant 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

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Science Toolbar Icons

Icon editor ArtIcons Pro can find, extract, edit and create Windows icons in color depths up to 16 million colors. Import and export icon images, create and handle icon libraries. It supports the new icon format introduced in Windows XP (8-bit transparency). Download it

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Customize desktop icons CustomIcons is an ultimate tool for customizing the icons on you desktop, in Windows Start menu and many other locations. Using CustomIcons you can easily replace default Windows icons with the ones to your choice. Download it

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