NetShock Blog
Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Web 2.0 and User Interface Design

One challenge facing many designers and UI developers is designing with the "Web 2.0" mentality in mind.  Of course, Web 2.0 is simply a buzz word for a concept, moreso than a technology.  The technology behind many Web 2.0 applications is nothing new.

Web 2.0's main focus is simplicity and usability - something that is not a new concept in UI design.  With advances in browser standards and general browser speed, Web 2.0 is achieved through crisp, clean designs and technologies such as AJAX.  This is all well and good for simple applications, but what about complex ones?

Building an application with Web 2.0 in mind is the challenge of making a complex idea appear simple.  An interface should only present a user with what is immediately important and required to interact with the application.  Beyond that, an application should utilize hidden areas (i.e. collapisble panels), popups and other pages to create the interface as simple as possible.  By doing this, a user is not required to study a page or read documentation to use the application, but simply interact with what is presented.

A Web 2.0 design must be intuitive.  An intuitive design is a fundamental requirement of usability and must be high in the list of priorities.  Focus on keeping standard design elements across an application.  Different design elements across the application will leave it feeling disjointed and unusable.

It is always good practice to look at your application from your user's perspective (hence why personas from Agile methodology are great practice).  Think more about how your user will interact with the system and what elements they will find important as opposed to how you find most comfortable.

The plug: NetShock specializes in UI and user experience, especially with Web 2.0 and can assist in consulting and development.