We are living in the era, when multiple tasks can be solved with online tools. It can be editing photos, videos or even creating websites and native mobile apps. Bubble.is, webydo.com, showit.co, squarespace.com - this is just a very small list of tools that allow you to build such things by simply clicking, dragging and dropping. Even in DigitalKwarts we are actively working on such instrument.
But all of them have one common problem - they become complicated. Somebody said that the best user interface has only one button. Well, unfortunately only a few problems can be solved that way. Others require a bit more actions in order to produce the output that user expects. However, how can we add new features and keep interface simple? Let's try to find out the answer.
The nature of Interface
In the common meaning an interface is a point of interactions between users and hardware and/or software, which allows ones effectively send instructions to the others. A programming language is an interface. A keyboard is an interface. A set of buttons, links, forms on your site is an interface too. It can be anything that helps person and computer to communicate.
Graphical User Interface (GUI) is more intuitive for average user in comparison to programming language and has smaller learning curve. In most cases user sees what he/she will get right away. This helped it easily gain wide acceptance in multiple areas, including web. Something that was previously impossible to create without hiring third-parties can be done now in one evening.
Well, almost. The problem of GUI is that it's limited, really limited. If we are speaking about some site builder, that means a user can create only specific blocks, be it a gallery, text block, video, form and probably few others. And that's all. You can create only what has been predetermined by developers. In many cases it's enough, and that's a great thing about it. You can get high-quality result, without any tech skills and much time and money spent.
However sometimes our needs exceed available capabilities and that's where problems of GUI begin to appear. Most product owners really care about their clients and do their best to satisfy customer needs. But it can be a big mistake. Each new feature becomes a pain point. It adds complexity to application and what is more important the it's learning curve becomes harder. It starts to be very heavy which experienced users probably don’t notice, but new ones certainly are. It just becomes very hard to learn.
Eventually, people start to look for third-parties that can help with any product they are using, however it only works in case of big audience surrounding it. In other cases people just switch to something a bit more simple.
So how can we build a product effectively and keep interface as simple as possible?
Reduce number of options.
This may sound obvious, but in many cases product owners tend to offer flexibility over simplicity, by providing hundred of different options that basically do the same thing. Every time you release any new feature, try to review already existing ones first.
Keep it focused
This point is closely connected to the previous one. Define the activities that the application is really used for. Make sure that your interface focuses on making these activities simple and straightforward. Don’t complicate an interface with too many choices.
These are widely used by far-famed Trello. The main idea is to keep initial interface simple and provide additional functionality as addons. These could be free or paid modules such as subscription or one-time payment model. Approach saves your interface from conglomeration.