Whenever you enter an office, a hotel or any other organization, your initial contact happens with a receptionist, maybe young woman in a formal skirt or a man in his thirties wearing a tie. Naturally, the impression that you make of the receptionist is the impression you make of the organization. It is a common belief that receptionists are supposed to be polite, have basic knowledge of the organization and can ruin your entire visit if they are rude. Similarly, a user interface is your contact to the world of binaries and codes.
It is the medium through which you interact with and understand your everyday devices. And a bad or a confusing user interface means difficulty in operating the devices. There are some qualities which are shared by great receptionists and user interfaces.
1. Clarity- This means the interface makes everything clear through language and visual elements. A receptionist who is clear in her language and gestures is better than the one whose speech is unclear.
2. Concision- In order to make sure that everything is transparent to the user if the interface is loaded with information and has labelled things that don’t need to be labelled. As a result in a heavy intake to the user. The key is finding the balance between being concise and still being clear.
3. Familiarity- In the era of a million options, the users deal with a lot of interfaces. So even though it is necessary for the interface to be clear and easy in its own way, it is also important that some basic features remain the same.
4. Responsiveness- When a receptionist doesn’t respond to your inquiry about a spare key card, it’s simply annoying. Similarly, when an interface doesn’t respond to the user or provide a feedback of the ongoing process, it is bound to leave the user in confusion.
5. Consistency- Keeping the interface consistent throughout the application or the website would help establish a pattern in the user’s mind. Like you would remember a specific organization if all their receptionists greet you in a particular uniform manner.
6. Aesthetics- While the interface can work without icing on top, it won’t hurt to make it look appealing, especially if it lasts in the user’s mind.
7. Efficiency- A good interface works efficiently, containing possible shortcuts and quick responses to the user’s queries.
Your interface is the agent through which your users will know about your product. And if the users like your interface, they are very likely to remember it and associate your website or application with it. A good user interface can even make the user get habituated to it.
On the other hand, a bad user interface, which doesn’t have the sense of familiarity to other interfaces and is not able to clarify its responses to you, is like a cranky receptionist whose language is not clear to you and you wish to leave the organization as soon as your work is done!