Creating Intuitive Interfaces
A hallmark of good design is when the people using your application feel like you’re reading their mind. As strange and unpredictable as people are, this isn’t hard to do. All you need to keep setting expectations and then delivering on those expectations.
Over time, hopefully within a few interfaces, you have to primed people to think that a certain type of thing will be in a certain place. As they’re browsing and working and managing all the distractions of their day, they will eventually need to do that thing again. Instinctually they will look towards the place they have come to expect that thing.
Is it there?
If it’s not, prepare for a lot of frustration and confusion. If it is, prepare for a lot of suprise and delight.
It’s that simple. No magic. No Unicorns. Just consistent and disciplined interfaces.
Setting interface expectations
Inside larger and more complex applications, a wide variety of interfaces will show up. It can become really, really hard to set consistent patters and always put the same things in the same places. In the spirit of progress over perfection, a “gaze” may be a more appropriate the a super-rigid set of interface rules.
Imagine being fully focused on a task inside an application. Once you’ve completed that task, realized another task that’s a higher priority, or just plain screwed up, where does your gaze wander to? There’s a good chance you’ll reacte and move towards what you consider the safest place.
- Adding something might feel like it belongs somewhere on the upper left side of the screen.
- Searching for something might feel like it belongs on the upper right side of the screen.
- Digging in deeper might feel like it belongs on the left side of the screen.
- Editing/deleting something might feel like it belongs on the right side of the screen.
The more you can consolidate these assumptions, set expectations, and deliver with consistency, the more people will find you accommodating and intutitive. They may even think you’re reading their minds!