How to craft clear interfaces

For the user, the interface IS the product!

    ‘Usable’ is

  • not a compliment
  • not sexy
  • not very meaningful.
    Applications should

  • be clear
  • be easy
  • be fast
  • be fun
  • have a feelgood factor.
    Interaction designers should take care of three domains:

  • Screen
  • Flow
  • Language

Clarity rules! Focus on most important things; use three levels of emphasis: strong, normal, weak; have an opinion on what matters (emphasize by position, colour, size etc.) and what is less important (de-emphasize, fade back, put aside etc.).

Think about what 80% of people will be doing and facilitate this process; skip unnecessary clicks and steps; what’s next?

Interface design is copy-writing; data input and output is like a converstation, use appropriate style; long labels are ok if they are meaningful; Be explicit with actions (don’t use just ‘submit’)

Ryan Singer of 37signals at FOWD New York 2008 [Video]

Faceted classification

“This is a faceted classification: a set of mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive categories, each made by isolating one perspective on the items (a facet), that combine to completely describe all the objects in question, and which users can use, by searching and browsing, to find what they need.”

From: Denton, William (2003), ‘How to make a faceted classification and put it on the Web’, [online] Available:

How to create personas

  1. Summarize findings [from reserach!], distribute discovery document [to stakeholders]
    1. specific and as precise as possible
    2. relevant to your product
    3. universal, ie not a singular attitude
  2. Hold a work session to brainstorm personas
  3. Prioritize and cull personas to develop primary, secondary and
    supporting personas
  4. make the personas into real people (use quotes: “The quotes act as mnemonics to keep the team connected to ther persona and the persona’s goals. It should be something that catches the nature
    of the persona’s personality and her attitude towards the
    product.” p. 177
  5. apply the personas

From: Wodtke, Christina (2003), Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web, Berkeley, CA: New Riders

Building a controlled vocabulary

  1. gather content
  2. gather terms from as many sources as possible
  3. define preferred terms
  4. link synonyms and near synonyms
  5. group preferred terms by subject
  6. identify broader and narrower terms
  7. perform associative linking
  8. document your choices and the rationale behind them

From: Wodtke, Christina (2003), Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web, Berkeley, CA: New Riders