Simple and Usable Web, Mobile and Interaction Design

  • Customers chose basic improvements over value-added extras.
  • Avoid speculating about what the customers might or might not do.
  • Adding features doesn’t always make the user’s experience simpler. Often it can lead to more frustration.
  • Sometimes you may be able to come up with an alternative solution that meets customers’ real needs (such as letting them switch between mobile applications quickly). But don’t be afraid to ignore requests to add more to your product.
  • Mainstream users don’t like the burden of setting options and preferences. 
Here are some good ways to limit visual clutter.
  • Use white space or subtle background tints to divide up the page rather than lines. Why? Because lines sit in the foreground, so you pay more attention to them than tints or white space that sits in the background.
  • Use the minimum possible emphasis. Don’t make something bold, large and red, if simply making it bold will do.
  • Avoid thick dark lines where fine,light lines will do.
  • Limit the levels of information. If you have more that two or three levels of information on a page you may be confusing the user. For instance, limit the number, sizes, and weights of fonts. Try to keep to just two or three levels in total, eg. a headline, subheading, and body text.
  • Limit the variation in size of elements.
  • Limit the variation in the shape of the elements.
You will be surprised how much clutter you can remove from the page.



Removing words

Why are so many web pages clogged with words that no one will ever read? Perhaps it’s because, unlike paper, web pages can always accommodate more text, so it costs nothing to add another paragraph or two. Or three.
The extra text is often wasted. Users don’t slavishly read every word. Their eyes skim of pages, picking out the odd keyword or sentence.
Getting rid of text has three benefits:
  • it makes what’s important stand out
  • It reduces the effort it takes to interpret a screen
  • It makes people more confident that they’ve understood what’s there
Organizing is often the quickest way to make things simpler.
  • Organize into bite sized chunks.
  • Mapping users’ behavior will help you see how to organize your software.
  • Good categories have hard-edged distinctions.
Timelines are universal ways of organizing events.
  • Make important things big.
  • Put similar things close together.
For categories that are more important, use bright , saturated colors to make them pop off the page.
For categories that are equally important, use perceptual layers with the same brightness and size but very the hue.
Simple organization is about what feels good as you’re using the software, not what looks logical in a plan.
People won't always follow the path you set.

Set the Scene

Consider adding “Welcome to secure checkout” to make the transition to checkout smoother.

Tell a Story

Users expect the sequence to unfold like a story, find out what that story is, and follow it. One online order form I tested started by asking users to enter their name and address. The owner explained that if there was a problem at a later stage, the company would still be able to contact the customer. But customers hated it.

When the sequence followed a simple story (“What do you want? Now where should I send it?”), the conversion rate increased.Speak the users’ language. Processes tend to exist because the user has to conform to a bureaucratic process (like a passport application) or a technical procedure (like setting up a modem) and bureaucracy and technology breed jargon. For insiders, jargon is compact and specifc. For novices, one unfamiliar word of jargon is more complex than an entire familiar sentence.

Reveal information in bite-sized chunks

If the chunks are too big, users feel the form is too complex. If the form is divided into lots of tiny nibbles, users feel the form is ineffcient and tedious. Each chunk should be complete and self-contained (for instance, don’t divide the address across two screens).

Hiding works as long as no one has to seek too long.

Today’s mobile devices are great for recording what users see and hear, and where they go. But entering large amounts of text is uncomfortable. When the user is directing and the computer guiding, the experience feels simpler.

If the data needs to be processed by a computer (for instance, if the tasks need to be sorted into date order) then the data needs to be structured. But often the computer can recognize and structure the data in the users’ notes. 

Computers often make users uncomfortable because they control and direct users’ behavior. Simple experiences require trust.

Spending time understanding the problem leads to better, simpler solutions.

The really great person will keep on going and come up with an elegant, really beautiful solution that works .
Steve Jobs

Simple and Usable Web, Mobile and Interaction Design

by Giles Colborne

Pearson Education | September 16, 2010 | Trade Paperback