Sunday, July 5, 2009

Programming: 7 Advices to a Cleaner User-Friendly Form

We (Developers) are left brained, we love to add buttons, toolbars, more textboxes, checkboxes, menus.. We just love it! because it shows how much we put effort in our work.

That unfortunately confuses users, and made them quit using our applications.

I wrote an article titled what happens when musicians and artists started to write code? It explains how much simpler user friendly design we can really get if we think KISS. (Keep it Simple Stupid)

Here by I compile a list of things to keep in mind so we can increase the simplicity of the form for people to actually use it.

1. Get rid of Apply, Close, Ignore, Retry buttons.
You really don't need these buttons, if you have an option form and you need to apply the changes, think of it this way, as user change the options, save directly. He wouldn't change the option unless he wanted to save. As for the close button user can always use the X button.

This will simplify the design.

2. Don't place options in the main form
Consolidate all the options in one form and the user can click a button that displays that form if needed. This will make the main form very simple and neat.

3. If an action can be done with one click, do it.
Developers love to drag the user to click more than once, try to avoid that if you can. Let a process completes with one click instead of 10 clicks. This is difficult but give it some time to think.

4. Use more defaults
Defaults are great, instead of placing options for the user, place carefully selected default values. So the user can click on button without specifying any confusing options. For geeks who wants more customized view, you can allow them to change the options in another form.

5. Show what matters
Display only the important objects and leave the less important things away for the time being. Leave only controls which the user CANNOT live without. Hide the geeky menus and commands and toolbars when the current action doesn't need it

6. Don't use Wizard
If you don't need a wizard don't use one. If the user will simply click next and next and next, don't bother him. Place one button in an empty form and when the user click it, use default values to finish the process.

7. Use simple images
If you must use an image in your form, use simple images with one or two objects inside it to avoid the confusion.