It is well understood that great user interface (UI) design takes complicated business applications and processes and makes them understandable and easy for anyone to use. Consumer applications often get all of the attention but business users are consumers too. It’s important that companies keep this in mind when they are designing applications for business users.
There are some basic tenants of UI design, made popular by Steve Krug, esteemed author and UI expert. Baynote follows many of these tenants today.
- Simple Navigation: It’s best to limit the menu choices to 5-7 options. Any more than that and users get confused and can’t find things. It’s also important to include “breadcrumbs” or trail markers so users know where they are in your site at any given time.
- Follow Conventions: If many other sites are doing things a certain way, why rock the boat. Conventions are your friends and will make it easier for your users to get their work done in your application. For VUE we looked at popular websites, such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, Netflix and Survey Monkey to ensure our application would be familiar to our customers.
- Don’t be Wordy: Large blocks of text and detailed descriptions turn users off. It makes your application or website appear more complicated that it may actually be. Use tool tips and online help to provide additional information, keeping the UI clean.
- Get Feedback: Whenever possible show your designs in the form of a clickable demo, wire frames, even a paper prototype to customers to get their feedback on your new product ideas and features. This process will make your customers feel valued, will provide you with useful feedback and potential features and will ultimately lead you to a better web application.
- Real-Time View: Also known as WYSIWYG. At Baynote, we think it’s really important for our users to be able to see what their recommendations will look like in our application before updating them on their site. These types of features help build trust with users and ultimately save them a lot of time.
This is by no means a complete list of what makes for great UI design, but look for these top items when evaluating personalization system interfaces. For more detailed information on this topic, I highly recommend Krug’s books but you can also follow him on Twitter @skrug.