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Making a simple and usable interface


What is simplicity? That is the property of being effortless, clean and understandable. It is not unexpected then that simplicity is often worshiped in user interface design. Often people intuitively dislike complexity in devices and applications. Of course, a few individuals find joy in finding out how something works, however for most of us, being unable to correctly use an interface leads to wasted time and frustration, and that's not what we are to achieve. If you are able to take a complex piece of hardware or a software application and somehow [rearrange, reorganize and redesign] the GUI to make it simple and intuitive to use, then you're right on the way to providing a better user experience. One of the options you can incorporate in your GUI design is Context based controls. There are several of approaches you can use in GUI design that lead to context and consistency. One suggests that you should keep controls similar throughout your software or web portal to ensure that people know where things are and don't get confused. The other approach is to change controls or navigation according to the context of each page or window. The content based option is when you display only the stuff the person needs to complete the process they're working in that single 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. You had a bunch of buttons displayed in the window constantly, and the controls stayed the same whether you were working with tables, graphics, text or pictures. Microsoft remodeled this interface for Office 2007 using a context related approach. At the top you now see a ribbon - or a set of buttons. When selected, each tab shows a pack of controls relevant to any given task, be it proofreading, processing images, or simply writing. The content related approach enables you to demonstrate fewer buttons at any single time point, but it also gives you more controls that are critical to the task at hand. I wouldn't advice choosing a context-heavy approach for general web design because for most websites 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

 Science Toolbar Icons

Science Toolbar Icons


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