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Developing a clean and user-friendly interface

What is simplicity? Simplicity is the property of being natural, clean and easy to understand. It is not surprising then that simplicity is commonly thrived for in GUI design. People naturally dislike complication in hardware and applications. Of course, a few individuals like figuring out how stuff works, however for the major population, being unable to operate a device leads to wasted time and disappointment, and that's not what we are to achieve. If you can take a complex piece of hardware or a software application and by some means [rearrange, reorganize and redesign] the interface to make it simple and intuitive to use, then you're right on the way to delivering a better user experience. One of the techniques you can use in your interface design is Context based controls. There are a few of attitudes you can take towards GUI design that relate to context and consistency. One dictates that you have to keep key elements similar throughout your software or web portal to be sure that users know where things are and don't get mixed up. The other approach is to adjust controls or navigation depending on the context of each page or window. The context based approach is when you show only the stuff the individual needs to finish the process they're working in that particular context. A good illustration of the two approaches can be seen in the recent redesign of the Microsoft Office GUI. Office 2003, as well as its older siblings, followed the design principle of keeping things consistent. You had a bunch of toolbars shown in the window constantly, and these remained unchanged no matter if you were working with columns, graphics, text or images. Microsoft redesigned this interface for Office 2007 applying a content related approach. At the top you now see a toolbar - or a number of tabs. When selected, each tab reveals a pack of controls related to any specific task, be it proofreading, processing graphics, or simply writing. The context based approach enables 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 all-purpose web interface design because for most websites people expect to see consistent 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

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

XP Icon editor IconXP can edit and create Windows icons in color depths up to 32-bit True Color. It supports the new icon format introduced in Windows XP (8-bit transparency). You can customize desktop and folder icons. Download it

Icon converter Any to Icon allows you to convert multiple BMP, JPEG, GIF, PNG, WBMP and WMF images to Windows icons in one action. It also breaks down entire icon libraries into individual icons. You can change color resolution and size to create customized icons. Download it

Icon editor and builder IconUtils is a complete icon and cursor solution. IconUtils package can edit icons and cursors, manage icon and cursor libraries, convert icons into images (in various graphic formats) and vice versa, customize Windows desktop and folder icons. Download it

Icon converter Icon to Any allows you to convert Windows icons and cursors into BMP, JPG, PNG, GIF, ICO, CUR, WBMP and RC formats. It has a wizard interface. It's simple to process multiple files at once. You can find icons and make images for use on Web pages. Download it

Cursor editor ArtCursors allows you to edit Windows cursors in color depths up to 16 million colors. You also can search files and folders for cursors, import and export cursor images and create cursor libraries for better and more efficient storage. Download it

Viewer AhaView supports all popular graphic formats, including JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, ICO, CUR, ANI, WBMP. You can browse images in thumbnail mode, view pictures full screen with zooming features, convert images to JPEG, PNG, BMP formats and manage files. Download it

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

Icon editors