For this article we will be taking a little step outside the usual topics that normally appear on this website. I want to specifically talk about User Interface design. I first started thinking about writing an article on this topic after I was exposed to an overly fancy website. Everyone has seen these kinds of websites. There will usually be these fancy animations or picture sequences that you need to wait through, or sometimes even scroll through, before you can continue reading. And I'm not talking about websites that are made for the purpose of creating an experience, I'm just talking about regular websites where you want to read an article about something that interests you.
It is probably fairly obvious from the design of my website that I like simple interfaces. That does not mean that I don't appreciate a cool design for a website, but when it is actively hindering your user from reading what they are there to read, then it is bad design.
I have seen this come up on certain news articles in online newspapers. Scrolling down the page does not scroll normally, instead you get served new pictures at certain intervals. These pictures do not scroll normally either, once they are on your screen, they stay there stationary while you are trying your very best to scroll further down. Then, only after you have scrolled for a set amount of time, will the picture move up. And when you think you will finally get to the text you wanted to read, another picture comes up and stays on your screen while you are scrolling and crying.
I have also experienced something similar at an online shop for laptops. I find a laptop that looks promising so I click on it to load the page with the details for this model. However, once I start scrolling down on this new page to find the specifications, I am instead served with an animation of the laptop model opening. And the animation only plays when I scroll so I have to actively scroll past the animation before I get to the text. I do realize that this might seem fancy, but in my opinion it also acts as an obstacle to the user. It might be just a minor obstacle and I might be overly sensitive about such things, but I don't find it to be a good idea. It will likely amaze first time visitors, but if you have returning visitors then chances are they will no longer be amazed and instead feel like your are wasting their time by forcing them to sit through such design features.
This is not only a problem with websites, it applies to anything with a user interface, especially games. Games that have interfaces that are easy to understand, not too fancy and does not get in your way, are usually among the more enjoyable games. I feel the need to mention Stellaris here. Stellaris is a game with a lot of stuff to learn and keep track of, but they have managed to keep the interface intuitive and easy to get around. I have also experienced games on the other end of this scale. Some games make use of animated menus, and icons and images with no text, leaving you to guess at what they represent.
And this really is the core of the matter. It does not matter if I am playing a game or reading an article online, I just really want to get to the information I am looking for in a fairly quick and easy manner. If it is a chore to get to that information, I am likely to stop using whatever game/website that feels like such a chore.
So once again, I really like simple interfaces. Which reminds me, it's probably about time I start adding categories to my articles, and add an easy option to view articles based on category.
Categories: Web Development