Everyone has an opinion about user interface design. Trained or untrained. Engineer. Sales person. Product manager. Executive management. It doesn’t matter who you are, anyone who works in software has some kind of opinion on the user experience.
And this is a good thing! Through collaboration, the user interface becomes stronger.
Many usability best practices are not set in stone. But these 3 are.
User Experience Best Practices
But there are 3 user experience best practices that can be broken only at the peril of the user experience.
- Consistency of User Experience Design. When no one is being attentive to it, the consistency of the user experience can decline. It is critical that the interface is consistent so that users know what to expect. Terminology, widget placement, and when it makes sense, task flow, needs to be the same from one screen to another.
- Task-Based Interface Design. Sometimes software is designed by feature set. Everything may be beautifully organized by the requirements document feature set, but none of that is relevant to the user. Users come into software because they want to do something or accomplish something. The best software answers the question, “what do you want to do?”
The best way to make sure that interfaces answer task-based questions is to design using a persona-based methodology. This helps identify the needs of real users, and puts a human face on task analysis.
- Visual Coherency. User Interface designs that lack visual coherency make it difficult for users to scan a screen and figure out what to look at or what to do. Widgets need to be coherently grouped. Great visual design can also help provide visual coherency using color or other visual cues.
Obviously there is much more to good user interface design than these 3 points. But if you violate any of the above, you can be guaranteed that you won’t have a high quality user interface and you’re going to have confused users.