Whatever the device, it has to have a ‘user interface’, this could be as simple as a telephone keyboard, but whichever form it takes, it is the way in which a user interacts with that device and it’s therefore its vital to get it right.
A good user interface is one that allows the customer to intuitively understand how to use the device, website or app without too much help.
There are 3 issues / parts of a user interface design, these being
- how it looks,
- how it works,
- how easy it is to use.
Most people have come across a poorly designed user interface at some stage, the instructions simply not being easy to follow. Self-service checkout machines, ecommerce sites and mobile device apps can all suffer from bad user interface design, and when this does occur, users often abandon their visit, resulting in lost sales and enquiries.
Worse still, such events can leave a bad taste in their mouths with the obvious negative impact on the brand. This is why it’s so vital to create the best user interface, but don’t also forget to check on how your customers are interacting with your website, as they may not be reacting as you think.
How the user interface is changing
User interfaces have come a long way since the first command-line interfaces (known as CLI), to the two-dimensional text-user interface (TUI), and finally into a graphical user interface (GUI) which we mostly use today.
Both the CLI and TUI interfaces only receive input via a keyboard, whilst the GUI is controlled by one or a combination of keyboard, mouse or, today, especially with mobile devices, touchscreens.
The voice user interface (VUI) is also becoming more and more common, devices like Siri and Cortana on Apple and Windows phones, as well as Alexa on the Amazon Echo allowing the devices to be controlled through speech. These VUIs allow total hands-free level operation as well as allowing blind and partially sighted users to control these devices.
Now the ‘natural user interface’ (NUI) is also being used. Here users interact with the device through hand movement and even eye gestures. These NUIs are mostly found in video game consoles like the Nintendo Wii, but can also be found in top marks of desktops / mobile and smartphones.
It has been found that using voice control alongside a graphical user interface improves the experience for users, something that in the battle for conversions should not to be ignored.
What a good user interface design looks like
A good user interface design is basically one that looks good and is easy to use. The best designs tend to be quite simple as too much content or too many images and buttons only result in confused users. A confusing interface forces the user to search around the screen whilst trying to find the parts that are relevant to them, whilst a good one allows the user to go ‘arrow like’ to the parts of the site they need. One great way of simplifying an interface is to use whitespace, as this breaks up the content and allows the user to concentrate on the important areas.
One way to make things better is to make buttons and options more easily recognisable by using the icons that users ‘expect’ to see. A good example is the ‘trash can’ as most users will understand what this does without further explanation.
Such icons haven’t changed over time for the simple fact that they’re so ‘iconic’ and recognisable that anyone instantly knows what they do. This is a fundamental aspect of good user interface design. So, ensure you make things intuitive by using the icons expect to see as these are the ones that they will search for. It’s simply no good in having a wacky icons in place of the traditional, simple and effective ones, no matter how well designed they may be.
Here’s an example of how we turned the complex into the predictable. Check out our portfolio for other examples.
The user interface and the search engines
Whilst the bounce rate of the pages on your website will not have great effects on the rankings your site is given by the Search Engines, the time on the site (also known as ‘dwell time’) can. This is naturally associated with Bounce Rates as when people quickly leave a site (and thus don’t look around) they are bound to have only spent a short time on the site…
Also, if users search for a phrase, then go to a site and quickly leave it, this ‘tells’ Google etc that the site is not relevant to that phrase, at least if it happens enough times. This is another reason for making sure that your visitors stay on site.
Too much clutter can also cause slow load times
Another effect of having pages cluttered with too much content can cause the page to load slower. Slow load times can really adversely affect search engine optimisation, especially on mobile devices.
We hope that this information is useful to you and if you would like to know more or get your site’s interface upgraded then please do contact the web design team at Rouge, we’d be pleased to help.