Simplified User Interface

The best interface will always be no interface. The challenge is making the interface intuitive enough for people to accomplish their goals.

  • Remove or hide features. The more features you have, the more complexity you have. Use menus, tabs, dropdowns, etc. to make features available, but not seen until needed.
  • Tightly align the user’s mental model with the product’s conceptual model. The closer you get, the simpler it will seem.
  • Smart defaults. Have them. Make them visible.
  • Distribute functionality to the right platform. Decide where functionality should logically be located: device, desktop, web. Don’t cram everything onto one platform unless it makes sense to do so.
  • Use visuals. Look for sentences and labels and figure out whether you need them. If you see descriptions that would be better elaborated in dedicated help or FAQs, take them out and link to that instead. If it must be inline, could it be shown more succinctly in an image or diagram than words? If there’s the text trying to get you to look somewhere else, maybe the options are in the wrong spot.
  • Clean the terminology. If there are similar descriptions in different areas, pick the best and use it everywhere. Take how your customers describe what they’re trying to do, and make the design reflect those terms. Once you’ve done these, get down to the smallest conceivable description for the current context. This will end up simplifying both translations and help documentation.
  • Design. Is there a lot of nesting or divider lines? See if the sections are organized meaningfully, and then eliminate as much line noise as possible to keep those sections distinct. Play with text headers, solid-colored boxes, or indenting to see if those work better.
  • Icons. These can very quickly become a crutch for small spaces if allowed to grow beyond a small set. Your interface might be in trouble if more than 1–2 icons have arrows in them or if the interface looks like a bag of Skittles from afar. Evaluate where they’re used today and see if there are alternate representations for the behavior they embody (such as information, or action, or current context).
  • Colors. Reduce your palette. Try to use one or two colors. Color carries a connotation, so warm colors like red or orange will always seem urgent and should be used selectively.

Content Manager at https://medium.com/level-up-web 👈. I write about web design, web development and technical writing. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Bradley Nice

Bradley Nice

Content Manager at https://medium.com/level-up-web 👈. I write about web design, web development and technical writing. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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