The 7 rules of great web application design

After some delicious breakfast tacos in the company of Priya and Alexander at the Taco Shack, Priya and I headed over to the Hilton for panel by Robert Hoekman author of:

Designing the Obvious: A Commonsense Approach to Web Application Design

Designing the Moment: Web Interface Design Concepts in Action

It was focused on human psychology and how to apply to our designs.

1 Understand users, then ignore them
Watch them and see what they do in real situations.
Ignore what they say. If they tell you what they think they’re probably wrong

2 Build only what’s necessary
What is the core of what’s important in your design.

e.g. http://www.senduit.com/ – simple to upload a file and share with friends temporarily. Could have added loads of features but they decided to keep it simple.

3 Support the users mental model
Come up with things people can people can relate to.
Like delete a file by dragging to a trash can rather than using “del xxx.dat” in Dos

4 Turn beginners into immediates immediately
Designs need to help people move from beginners into intermediates

e.g. WordPress.com had a very busy home page and users were confused where to sign-up, so they redesigned it adding a huge sign-up now button. Sign-ups went up 12 to 14% within a week.

5 Prevent errors (and handle the rest gracefully)
e.g. on  http://www.backpackit.com/ it’s simple and you can’t make mistakes.
Make people feel good
Illuminate the possibility of errors.
Don’t accuse people of being wrong just tell people you need a certain piece of information.

6 Design for uniformity, consistency and meaning
e.g. Squido each page used to have different navigation, too much information. It was not obvious the site was about.
Improve the explainablity of sites

7. Reduce, Reduce, Reduce (and refine.)
e.g. On Squido – reduce clutter

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