What does it take to instill user confidence in your user interface?
Clarity just means making sure your interface is clear: users should know what they’re using it for. The best user interface is the one that doesn’t affect your user; it stays humbly in the background.
You don’t want your user to feel uneasy; you want them to feel in control, which builds confidence. Give the user control of the interface. Give them the ability to control where they go, what they do and how they use the interface.
There are two good ways to design for control:
- Give direction: Show or tell users where they are going. Provide clear directions so that they can quickly discern pathways. Give them a heads up on what they can do and where they can go.
- Give feedback: Tell users what they are doing and where they are going. Provide consistent markers and feedback so that they learn to plan and predict what things are and what they will do.
A great interface has built-in help and provides users with a sort of tour guide along the way. Provide a way for users to learn the interface bit by bit, as they go, to build major confidence.
A few things to consider:
- Make interface elements meaningful. If it’s a button, make it look like one.
- Design for easy exploration, without harsh penalties.
- Give help when needed, but not before. And don’t make users search for it.
- Hide help from users who are already comfortable and confident.
Build confidence by staying out of the way and letting users discover on their own terms. Provide the path and then let users walk it. This goes hand in hand with the last two principles: giving simple feedback and hiding help can be vital to staying out of the way. But the best way to stay out of the way is to design an invisible interface, one that users don’t even know they’re using.
Users must choose to use your interface. You can’t force them. You can provide pathways, but not control which or how they are taken. A simple and usable interface will rack up the confidence points.
Basics to building a usable interface:
- Set standards: Use standard elements, conventional labels and predictable interactions.
- Don’t make them think: Avoid forcing users to make decisions. If you can make a common decision for the user, go ahead and do so.
- Help them learn: Allow users to learn as they go. Users discover, they don’t tend to read instructions.
- Give feedback: Provide clear and instant feedback to every interaction.
Consistency builds trust, and trust builds confidence. Design so that elements and interactions, actions and consequences are predictable and similarly styled. For example,use one method of alert, one method of data entry, one method of viewing detailed results. Build unity.
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