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Creating a simple and user-friendly interface


What is simplicity? That is the property of being effortless, clean and intuitive. It is not unexpected then that simplicity is often thrived for in GUI design. Most people intuitively dislike complexity in hardware and software. Yes, a few people like finding out how stuff works, however for the major population, being unable to correctly use an interface leads to wasted time and disappointment, 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 interface to make it simple and intuitive to use, then you're well on the path to delivering a better user satisfaction. One of the options you can incorporate in your interface design is Context based controls. There are a couple of attitudes you can take towards interface design that lead to context and unity. One suggests that you should keep controls similar throughout your applications or websites to ensure that users know where things are and don't get confused. The other approach is to adjust controls or navigation depending on the context of each page or window. The content based option is one where you display only the items the user needs to do the process they're working in that particular context. A good example of the two attitudes can be found in the recent redesign of the Microsoft Office interface. Office 2003, along with its older siblings, followed the design principle of leaving the controls unchanged. You had a bunch of toolbars displayed on the screen at all times, and the controls stayed the same no matter if you were working with columns, charts, text or pictures. Microsoft remodeled this interface for Office 2007 using a context based approach. At the top you now see a ribbon - or a set of buttons. When clicked upon, each tab reveals a pack of controls relevant to any specific task, be it spell checking, processing images, or simply writing. The context based 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 advice choosing a context-heavy approach for all-purpose web interface design because for most webpages users 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

 Science Toolbar Icons

Science Toolbar Icons


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