Design is hard

Today in class (slides are here) we looked at some interface design principles. Design principles help guide you when creating a software interface or web site. Problems arise because principles are just guides; they are not rules. This means that you still have to make decisions about the thing you are designing while you are designing it, and then try to figure out whether or not it looks good and is functional. For example, you could add objects to your interface in a symmetrical fashion, but that might impede information flow.

Your best bet when designing the interface for your solution, and your website in (week 13), is to create 3 designs and show them to people to critique. You can prototype your design in Dreamweaver or Powerpoint, both of which are on the Macs in our classroom.

Once you have a satisfactory design, then you can build your website. For the project, you can add the designed prototype to your final delivery. If anyone wants critique on a design, then I am happy to do so. But I will only do this in person, so catch me at the end of a Thursday class or in my office hour.

We also looked at some bad designs. You were all pretty good at seeing where the bad designs I showed in class went wrong. You can see the bad designs from class at the interface hall of shame.

How do you know when you see a interface good design? Do you have to interact with it first? What if the interface is ugly, but functional? Is it still a good design?

One thought on “Design is hard

  1. If you don’t notice the colors and set-up of the interface; its probably a good design as far as looks go. This goes along with the old adage of you know when an ump or ref have called a good game if you haven’t noticed them.

    As far as the effectiveness of the interface goes, that is simply discovered by trial and error. When using an interface, if you find yourself naturally and fluidly navigating the interface, it is a good design. To me, that is the mark of a nicely designed interface: when the user doesn’t have to think when using it. Without the combination of looks and effectiveness, I don’t think an interface author can sleep at night.

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