Saturday, August 1, 2009

Why UI/UX is important?

“Programming today is a race between software-engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots.

So far, the Universe is winning”
-Rich Cook


Many times during interviews I have been asked the above question. There could be many different answers and opinions about this; I came up with the following. If you are a system developer probably this would give you more insight and a different view of application you are working on/have worked on.

For any application UI is its face. Everyone likes beauty which applies to computer users (and users of your application too?); UI can help to create a strong brand name and good company image. By providing consistence, UI minimizes the learning curve and helps the end user to start using the system from day one. This helps to make a popular application.

As end user if I am frustrated or feel helpless with an application then probably I will wait and look for alternatives (and soon I will find one too). While designing any application if developers do not think as end users then the product fails. As an example; even though Gateway was first to launch an online ordering system, Dell got a very good start because of continuously providing a good user experience. Dell realized soon that online ordering system is not against phone ordering system but it is ‘with’ Phone ordering system. Few changes like replacing dropdown boxes with lists, radio buttons or check boxes with graphic buttons, giving clear descriptions and creating ordering wizards instead of one long ordering page boosted Dell’s sales significantly.

Following table is code line analysis for .Net Pet Shop 4.0 application.

As you can see from the above example the amount of code we write for presentation layer is very high. In most of the cases this is true as Presentation layer or UI has to provide access to various functions of an application. As presentation layer is a huge code it is very critical that it should be designed very carefully.

Windows 95Windows 95
Windows VistaWindows Vista

Everyone likes a change towards more beautiful applications. Since Microsoft launched Windows 95 in 1995 and Windows Vista in 2007 you will notice many changes, many things got more beautiful and more elegant. As an end user even if 2 applications have exactly the same functions I would be willing to pay a bit more money to get the more beautiful application.

As the application user I don’t care how ‘good’ your application is, which ‘great’ programming methodology you have used to create your application, which testing method you used, which programming technology you used, I only care about one thing, ‘How does it make my life easy?’ As a developer if you think about the above question you will win users of your application, no one likes to click 10 buttons to get a single piece of information; it has to be very simple and easy to relate to. As an application user I don’t like changes (which is contradictory to my earlier statement ‘everyone loves change’). I like change but it should be more sensible like the ‘Start’ button of Windows. Since Windows 95 introduced it in 1995, the ‘Start’ button has been on the bottom left corner of the screen. It has always been there; today, in Vista it looks different but it is still there. You have the option to move the ‘Start’ button on any side of your screen but by default it will be on the bottom left corner of your screen. Few more examples could be Close (Minimize and Restore) button, menu items, toolbar etc.

"UI is very important part of any application as it is the only way for user to access functionality of application, it can be deciding factor to make or break any application."

Happy Coding & designing :)

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