User interface is a system where people, or what we called users, interact with machine. It includes the hardware or physical and software or the logical components. In the industrial field of human-machine interaction, user interface is a space where communication of humans and machine occur in which the goal of the interaction is to have an effective control and operation of the machine on the user’s end, and a feedback from the machine that assists the operator in making operational evaluations and assessments to improve its overall effectiveness.

With the increased use of personal computers and other relative social component awareness in heavy machinery, the term user interface is used in general referring for graphical user interfaces. User Interfaces are very important fragment of any program because of the several sanities. One of these sanities is to regulate how easily the program can do what you want. The more intuitive the user interface is, the less expensive it will be. The easier the user interface to operate, the lesser to help people in using it that may help you in shrinking the training cost. The better the user interface you have, more possibilities for your users to like it fulfilling their satisfactions and making way of recommending it to other people to use it.
10 User Interface Techniques to De-clutter Web Design
Design is not just how it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.“, Steve Jobs once said. That means, the overall efficacy and expediency does not depend on how beautiful the appearance of your web app is. Maybe a beautiful application may lead to a satisfying user experience but how about its usability? Bear in mind that it is dependent on the accessibility and performance of its functions and there are lots of web usability mistakes that spell disaster for your business that should be avoided at all times. Not all the techniques you have used before may always work for every situation or application. Design with your priority goal in mind – a goal in which the interface helps the users to achieve all of their satisfaction including the performance.

Many of us believed that over the next few years, web applications would become more abundantly interactive than it is now. Smartest web designers will use the desktop hardly-won knowledge in designing good collaborative interactive software. The design of a user interface touches the quantity of the effort exerted by the user in providing input and to construe the output of the system, as well as, how much effort it takes to learn on how to do this. Remember that a powerful program with feebly user interface graphical design has a little value while the other programs having the opposite traits of the first given program may grow bigger than what the operators expected.

Below are user interface techniques that may help you in making your interface be simple and beautiful yet functional as well as de-clutter web design.

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Tuck and Hide – Have your keyboard shortcuts

Putting fewer foods on your mouth, the easier it will be to swallow and the lesser the chances of choking. If your application has many controls that are not organized, your users will scan all of the controls you have to find what they are looking for. The simplest way not to clutter your application is tuck and hide all of it away from it’s default view.

For example is the Twitter, one of the popular micro-blogging apps, which shows you the recent tweet of the people you have followed. Each of every tweet is encapsulated in it’s own box. The two action buttons, which is to reply or make it favorite, only appears once you hover on it. The buttons are hiding in a way that it will not eat more space on your application. This may bring danger on your new users because controls are hidden and they are not informed about those hidden buttons. However, most of the people tend to mouse over things they are looking at so given the hover areas are large enough, for these controls be discovered quickly.

Well, the relative technique that you can use is the integration of the keyboard shortcuts. Most of the web applications use keyboard shortcuts for more efficient way of improving the workflow of your users and for them to make task easily done. Facebook and 9Gag are some of the most popular websites that already jumped in with this user interface technique

Advanced search filters

Utilization of JavaScript and displaying set of controls when the users click somewhere can help you in hiding things in a wisest way. Retaining the advanced functionality for the users who need it as well as simplifying the interface for people who just need to use the simple search covers both end. You may have editable filters or advanced searches at the end of your search box so that you can hide them away and show it via a button.

Clicking this button will show you the set of controls of filters and advanced search options. It can make the interface cleaner and understandable especially to those new users who only knew few elements and need to figure out many things on your application.

Tabbed windows is a menu

Tabbed windows aren’t just an eye candy; it provides usability benefit on your application. Many of the web applications often used the concept of tabbed windows navigation approach for their main navigation window. It is a menu that seems like each item is a tab on a file folder, with the active tab linked to the body of the page. The visual metaphor becomes strong and clear once the menu look like tabs on folder that will make most of everyone to wonder what it is and how it works.

Pictures speak louder than words

Instead of using texts, why not use icons or pictures? Through of it, you are able to achieve simplicity of user interface designs in an attractive way. Lessen all of the unnecessary parts of your application including not only the controls but also the label words. If you are one of the people who create application full of labels, ask yourself: Is it very helpful even though the icon or the picture on the side obviously stating the function of it? Is it all really necessary?

If no, then you don’t need it. It is just a kind if archaic or obsolete. An icon or picture has some advantages in stripping away those labels. It consumes less space and makes your application look cleaner. Although, the combination of icons and text labels will be more eye-catchy, it will also trading off your space. Therefore, weighing of ideas if the icons or text labels will be used for your application is very important.

Display your helping message

Every web application is different to each other especially the way of doing things within its realm. Attract the attention of your users if you really want to help them in your application. There are some which can’t be immediately seen the apparent function on a particular element. Therefore, you should display some helping message or an icon beside the confusing area for the sake of your users. You can use yellow stick notes for your helping reminders with regards to your application.

If you will use icons, it will be better if you are going to use question marks to let your users know the area where they can question things. Labeling inside the input forms are also a kind of helping message. Forms can be complex and filling out forms isn’t usually fun. Therefore, you should speed up the process and make simpler forms. Pre-filled the value inside the text field, instead of showing the label before the text field, is one of the techniques you can use for making forms simpler.

Personalization option

There’s nothing more well when you are at your home. A good number of web applications often provide customize workspace for people and businesses.

Make your users become comfortable or let’s say more feel at home through the use of personalization – in which the users have given the chance to change the look and feel the application appearance. It includes the color themes, the background color, link colors and so on. The system should still capable of performing its function, hence, meet every user’s expectation and satisfaction despite of how exactly the users personalize your application.

In addition, one of the useful tactics in finding a settlement between the website’s core functionality and user interface is to present numerous kinds of personalization, depending if the user of your application is a novice or an advanced user.

Draw attention to important changes

Users must notice instantaneously what’s going on behind the scenes and whether their actions led to expected results. Visibility of the system’s status is one of the most significant elements of a good user interface. Draw attention to important changes by highlighting it. AJAX brings the level of receptiveness and interactivity of web aps much closer to the desktop-grade applications.

Some of the web applications often use AJAX to achieve more complex and sophisticated visibility of the system in which users are allowed to update the portion of the web page without refreshing the whole page of the web. However, the majority of web applications still don’t used AJAX extensively so some users are not sure that anything happen at all or some of them thought that the button is not properly clicked.

Expand the forms

We often see on web forms the file upload fields so I am sure that most of us are familiar with it. Well, it is usually a bar with the browse button by its side. Imagine the instance wherein the users will going to upload several files at once though. You can put a display of several uploading files field right there but don’t you think that it will only take a space that can be useful for other features?

The ideal one is not the one that will clutter the interface, thus, expanding the form is the great solution in this case. It will be a great way to save a space and simplify your interface. Instead of having a lot of text or uploading file fields, display one or a couple of fields only. As the user fills in the first fields, the new fields are created underneath.

Sign-up forms as simple

Admit it or not, one of the biggest barriers between you and your potential customers are the filling up of the sign-up forms.

The longer the sign-up form the greater the effort for the users to fill up the form before they become officially one of the members in your website. Probably, most of them pay first before they become one of your members.

Speed up this kind of process to minimize the barricade by eliminating all the optional elements in the sign-up form. Moreover, all the optional elements should be talked later on.

Carefully-designed feedback messages

Every application has its own form of feedback messages. Pretty much, it is a little message that pops out if there is an error or warning regarding the recent action made and perchance when the action is successfully completed. If you don’t want to make your users confuse or startle when there is nothing to worry about, then you should design these messages correctly. A couple of things to do in designing it precisely:

  • Organize your messages by giving it a color coding concept regarding its type. You can use the following colors:
    • Green – as the green traffic light says “GO”, users have the idea that the message is about the successful action they made in the website.
    • Yellow – For warning messages, you can use ‘yellow’ as it means “SLOW DOWN and WAIT”.
    • Red – The use of ‘red’ color signifies the “STOP” in traffic-color analogy – for error-containing messages.
  • Add an icon for every message as it conveys instantly the meaning without reading the message. For example is the exclamation mark on a yellow triangle signifying warning.
  • You should provide a way to close or exit from that notification if they are likely to stay on the page for a while.
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