A fundamental reality of application development is that the user interface is the system to the users. What users want is for developers to build applications that meet their needs and that are easy to use. Too many developers think that they are artistic geniuses – they do not bother to follow user interface design standards or invest the effort to make their applications usable, instead they mistakenly believe that the important thing is to make the code clever or to use a really interesting color scheme. Constantine points out that the reality is that a good user interface allows people who understand the problem domain to work with the application without having to read the manuals or receive training.
User interface design important for several reasons. First of all the more intuitive the user interface the easier it is to use, and the easier it is to use and the less expensive to use it. The better the user interface the easier it is to train people to use it, reducing your training costs. The better your user interface the less help people will need to use it, reducing your support costs. The better your user interface the more your users will like to use it, increasing their satisfaction with the work that you have done.
These principles are
- The structure principle. Your design should organize the user interface purposefully, in meaningful and useful ways based on clear, consistent models that are apparent and recognizable to users, putting related things together and separating unrelated things, differentiating dissimilar things and making similar things resemble one another. The structure principle is concerned with your overall user interface architecture.
- The simplicity principle. Your design should make simple, common tasks simple to do, communicating clearly and simply in the user’s own language, and providing good shortcuts that are meaningfully related to longer procedures.
- The visibility principle. Your design should keep all needed options and materials for a given task visible without distracting the user with extraneous or redundant information. Good designs don’t overwhelm users with too many alternatives or confuse them with unneeded information.
- The feedback principle. Your design should keep users informed of actions or interpretations, changes of state or condition, and errors or exceptions that are relevant and of interest to the user through clear, concise, and unambiguous language familiar to users.
- The tolerance principle. Your design should be flexible and tolerant, reducing the cost of mistakes and misuse by allowing undoing and redoing, while also preventing errors wherever possible by tolerating varied inputs and sequences and by interpreting all reasonable actions reasonable.
- The reuse principle. Your design should reuse internal and external components and behaviors, maintaining consistency with purpose rather than merely arbitrary consistency, thus reducing the need for users to rethink and remember.