10 Simple Tips for Improving User Experience (Part 2)

The following post has been contributed by our Web User Interface & Graphic Designer, Mark Bridger. Read the first post from this two-part series!

We at SmartSimple are always striving to ensure our users have the best possible experience when using our products. Effective user interface design makes the user’s interaction with a system as simple and efficient as possible.

Here are the last five usability principals all designers should use in creating interfaces:

6. Recognition over Recall

Make objects, actions, options, and directions visible or easily retrievable.
  • Avoid Using Codes: If a user wants to apply for a grant, use “Grant Application” as a label, instead of an arbitrary code. This way, the user doesn't have to learn or remember your coding system.
  • Avoid Unnecessary Hurdles: Ensure every page has a purpose; there should be no unneeded intermediary pages.
  • Visual Representation: If you are selecting visual elements such as layouts, images, and video, include a preview pane. This way, the user can clearly visualize it, rather than being forced to use a text description to remember how it looks like.

7. Flexibility & Efficiency

Give the user options and make it easier for them to accomplish their desired tasks.

  • Shortcuts: Shortcuts enable users to navigate your site more efficiently. Keyboard shortcut example: CTRL + C for Copy.
  • Defaults with Options: If the user needs to search for events, add commonly picked cities as radio buttons. This cuts out the cumbersome process of manually searching for the most frequently chosen cities.
  • Recommendations: If the user has finished applying for a grant, recommend similar grants they might want to apply to. Ensure that these recommendations are relevant to them.


8. Aesthetic & Minimalist Design

Keep things clean, clear and simple.
  • Above the Fold: The most important information should be displayed in the initial viewable area.
  • Signal-to-Noise: Minimize the amount of elements and choose a layout, fonts and colors that support the goal or message.
  • Remove Redundant Information: Avoid asking for, or displaying the same information, multiple times. If something is not needed or distracts the user, get rid of it.


9. Recognize, Diagnose & Recover from Errors

Help your users to recognize, diagnose and recover from errors.
  • Clarity: Make sure the user knows what is wrong. For example, if a user missed a mandatory field, give them an appropriate error message, highlight the desired input, and reset the focus to that input.
  • Provide a Solution: When the user encounters an issue, recommend a solution, list their options, and either tell the user how to resolve it or propose an alternative.
  • Warn of Potential Problems: If a user is about to do something that may result in an error or issue, prompt them with information explaining the issue. Include an option to continue or cancel in the prompt.


10. Help 

  • Provide Examples:  Include samples and templates to demonstrate actions on your interface.
  • Context Sensitive Help: Provide relevant and pertinent help on each page to fix problems as they arise.
  • New/Changed Functionality: Bring attention to new or changed features, so users know what new things are, and where to find and use existing things that were changed. 

These tips are based on the works of Jakob Nielsen and Scott Klemmer.

Want to learn more about SmartSimple and our software products? Visit our main site, email us at info@smartsimple.com or call toll-free 1-866-239-0991.


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