Building Better Interfaces

When user interfaces are well designed, they fade into the background, a seemingly insignificant part of the overall product design. However, when interfaces are poorly designed, they can build walls that turn users away.

Psychology is a major component of building intuitive interfaces. When we interact with a new interface, we bring with us cognitive baggage – all our previous cultural knowledge and expectations about how the interface should work.

When we see something that looks like a button, we expect to be able to press it to instigate an action. However, if that image turns out to be unclickable, or if the action that follows is unexpected, we’re taken aback.

In game design, this can sometimes be a good thing. After all, in order to create innovative products, you have to change users’ preconceived notions and expectations. However, if the experience is so foreign that it becomes frustrating, this can easily turn a user away.

One of the best ways to find the hiccups in your interface design is to watch users try it out. They will naturally bring their cognitive baggage to the product, and if they’re able to use your product without having to focus on the interface, you’re well on your way to a solid design.

Interested? Here are a couple of additional resources:

The Design of Everyday Things

Intuition, Expectations and Culture: Learning from Psychology to Build Better Game Interfaces