Etna Interactive
709 Fiero Lane, Suite 43
/ San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Tel (866) 374-3762
Fax (805) 543-2014

Web Site User Interfaces: The Basics

At Etna, our programmers and designers work together to come up with a great user experience on our customers’ websites. User interface (UI) is a very important component of a successful site. In this first post in our series on UI, we will be discussing what exactly UI is and why our team pays so much attention to it as we design, develop and engineer websites.

What Is UI?

Simply, user interface is that space where humans and machines interact.
Because we want to program the best sites possible, our UI team must have a solid understanding of our users’ needs. Here are a few questions our conscientious programmers and designers are asking as we plan a system:

  • What would the user want the system to do?
  • How would the system fit in with the user’s normal workflow?
  • How technically savvy is the user?
  • What similar systems does the user already use?
  • What interface look and feel would appeal to the user?
  • What is the process and/or information flow of the system?
  • How can we get all the content on the screen in the most logical way?

Why UI?

The purpose of UI is to make it easier for people with varied computer skills to work with and use our Web systems.

The payoff of good UI is it supports the actions necessary to achieve the goals of the user… without drawing unnecessary attention to itself.

The components of UI are input and output – how we deal with a users’ manipulation of the website.

  • Input: we must design the system to allow the users to manipulate it.
  • Output: we must allow the system to indicate the effects of the users’ manipulation.

In the next post in this series, find out how we use planning, smart design and a few tricks of the trade to make our sites extremely user friendly. Stay tuned!


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