Advancement of User Interface

by Matthew C

A business’s website can show a lot about the company, and is often the first impression of the company to its potential consumers. In our current world of cutthroat competition between businesses trying to market similar products, a first impression can mean the difference between acquiring a new customer and a failed customer.  One way companies have been trying to improve their first impression, it through the user interface of their website.  A website is worthless in the business world if it is not easily accessible to its target audience and even somewhat outside of it.  So how are businesses today one upping their competitors in terms of website functionality?  Well, they have a wide variety of options, ranging from functionality to aesthetics.  However, companies are trying to improve both of these aspects through the advancement of the user interface.

The user interface of a business website can dictate whether or not the consumer buys a product from your site or leaves and never comes back.  According to Janco Jovanovic, there are a few key processes you should go through to ensure you have a successful website/user interface.  To begin with, one should start with identifying the audience of the website or application(Jovanovic, 2010).  This is important because many times you have to sacrifice functionality for aesthetics or ease of use, depending on who you are designing the interface for.  For example, programmers at a development company would likely want an application that can fulfill many of their needs all at once.  They would rather have increased functionality and features than a pretty picture.  A customer to a retail shop would likely want the exact opposite when visiting the retail shop’s website.   The next step involve sketching the desired outcome of the user interface, going into as much detail as possible including text box sizes, colors, and placement of widgets.  Sketching allows for easy brainstorming and is a phenomenal tool because they are so easy to create and so easy to dispose of.  The last two steps involve prototyping and testing that prototype.  Prototyping involves creating an actual mock up of the website and continuously tweak it until the desired outcome.  During this process, developers have to look for bugs, test how much stress the website can take relative to its predicted use, and make other small tweaks as they see fit.

In addition to web sites, many businesses, if not all, have some sort of web application to their company’s name. Web applications are dynamic, interactive systems that help a business perform critical tasks such as measuring productivity.  Web applications can directly influence how well a business is ran from a financial and organizational standpoint.  They are usually far more difficult for the user to use in that the application is only meant to be used the employees of the business, therefore not needing it to be overly user friendly.  These systems are very important to a company’s well being, which means if the application fails, the whole company will suffer.  In addition to that, many web applications are often made with only the company in mind, meaning that an alternative is usually non existent.  A company’s web application must be able to perform its needed tasks from the get go, because as time goes on, the harder it will become to switch away from it.

As far as user interface goes for consumer products, it doesn’t get much simpler than the already released Windows 8.  It’s aesthetically pleasing, easy to use, and has all the functionalities you can ask of it.  So how can one innovate beyond that which is already “complete”?  Many businesses have already started to incorporate the use of first person user interface, in the form of things like map applications. There has been a huge widespread of location detection technology through the advancement in cell towers and GPS(Edwards, 2010).  If you couple this with a digital compass, it becomes pretty simple to not only know your exact location, but which direction you’re facing as well.  With this technology, applications like Google maps can point you in the direction you are searching for and you’ll exactly what to look for on your way there.These applications go beyond that of simple directions by mirroring our perspective onto a device so we can better understand the physical space that surrounds us.  It may not seem like a lot on paper, but a first person user interface allows us to “augment our surroundings with relevant information”.

In addition to navigation, first person user interfaces also allow us to directly interact with objects around us.  Applications like Yelp incorporate the use of both location detection technology and user interaction to show you popular businesses around that fit your given criteria.  The addition of first person user interfaces to already popular applications gives the user exactly what information they are looking for, in a surprisingly small amount of steps.

The user interface is what allows us to function the applications all over the world.  Website and web applications can range from very simple to very complicated depending on the designated user.  User interfaces have grown tremendously technology wise over the years, and it can only go up from now.  Who knows, maybe we’ll see 3-d user interfaces in the near future.

Sources

Edwards, Kristie. “Evaluation of User Interface Design to Optimize Access to Library Databases for People Who Are Motor Impaired.” Smashing Magazine 29 Jan. 2009: n. pag. Print.
Jovanovic, Janko. “Designing User Interfaces For Business Web Applications.” Smashing Magazine 25 Feb. 2010: n. pag. Print.
Wroblewski, Luke. “Enhancing User Interaction With First Person User Interface.” Smashing Magazine 21 Sept. 2009: n. pag. Print.

13 thoughts on “Advancement of User Interface”

  1. This is a great subject! I am actually currently working on a research paper on this subject, but focused more narrowly on the implementation of color in web design. While gathering my research, I came across a lot of the same information as what you put in your article.

  2. The User Experience is the key to acceptance. The importance of good User Interface Design can be the difference between product acceptance and rejection in the marketplace. Good presentation, very helpful and informative blog.

  3. The topic of user experience and user interface is almost an art. Understanding how the human brain relates to inputs of a webpage strikes a psychology note very well.

    I like to think of UX as the theory of a website’s behavior with the user while the user interface is the physical design of the inputs that the user interacts with. However, neither should be considered over the other.

    Great post, this topic is very important to our time.

  4. I agree, I think it will be awesome to see 3D user interfaces in the near future. In fact, designers have already started working on doing this for the web. For example Steve Newcomb, CEO and founder of famo.us, is already demonstrating how 3D graphics can be implemented into web-based mobile devices. Really cool!

  5. All companies should know the importance of a well designed User Interface for their websites. Too many times have I dealt with a website when they were not user friendly and their layout had a lot to be desired. Regardless, I usually never returned. If only Oracle could read this blog and learn something from it for Broncodirect.

  6. I agree! UI is VERY important to users. This is why, in my opinion, Apple products sell so well. They have a very simple UI and very litle maintenance. Although, as a Windows guy and computer freak, I personally hate how Windows tried to make a simple, almost Apple like UI with Windows 8. I dont see myself switching over anytime soon.

  7. I feel like UI is one of the most important things to a general public now-a-days because it almost seems like many users base their buying off of aesthetics than many other important things, and the UI is the most important part to an environment, all though I feel this way I also believe there is a breaking point where UI can only do so much but, I agree with you and would love to see where it goes.

  8. A well designed user interface is key in any system. As a user of both worlds, Apple and Microsoft I’ve come to like Apple’s user interface. It’s simple and gets the job done. In my current job, I demo both operating system user interfaces to customers and most customers choose the apple user interface. Very interesting post.

  9. I am surprise that you didn’t talk about graphical user interface. In the last decade, almost all the development of the development in user interface has been in the area of GUI. Just look at how OSes like Windows. Mac, and Linux have improved.

  10. I find it very interesting that UI had been making such small advancements up until recently. I feel that our coding has gotten much better, with more frameworks, languages and holistic programs that let us get more out of our code. Yet UI to me hasn’t changed much until recent years to think that a responsive website is not a norm given today’s computing power (although it is quickly becoming a norm). Also operating systems hadnt really changed all that much up until windows 8. It is exciting to see where these innovations in UI will take us.

  11. This class has really made me understand the importance of UI design and appreciate the time spent in designing it. Probably most overlooked are color schemes, which Kevin Ferris adequately explained to us in his research presentation. I can relate to the author’s statement about UI being the deciding factor in buying or not buying a product as it has happened to me on such occasions. Front facing design is just as important , if not more important, than back-end processes.

  12. I believe that the user interface is the most important aspect of any program or website. A friendly user interface makes it easier for people to use and navigate the software/webpage. This reminds me of what Google are doing to their Android OS’s interface. I remember back in 2010 when i got my first Android smartphone, the UI was completely basic and not the most user friendly. Over the past 4 years, I witnessed the operating system grow to a mature OS with a very easy to use and clean user interface.

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