User Interface Design – Efficiency

Short and Sweet

Efficiency translates to productivity, (productivity is output against inputs). But also efficiency means happier user because they are not being bugged by inefficiency.

1. The user should not have to ‘stop and think’.

The user should not have to ‘stop and think’ about common actions.

Everything must be self explanatory, consistent with the user’s experiences and self evident in its intention and consequences. Familiar navigational objects should not move or disappear unexpectedly so that users become disoriented. Understandability and consistency are imperative to efficiency.

2. Do not force unnecessary actions (clicks, navigations).

Each task should require only a minimum number of actions to complete. If the action can be done with a single click of a button, don’t force the user through three clicks (eg via a drop-down) to achieve the same result unless real estate on the screen is very restricted.

Eg Minimise clicks, maximise available visible data, have data entry default values, personalise if possible (eg allow users to create favourite lists.)

3. An appropriate search function should always be provided.

Applications invariably require search and select functionality. This should be built in to ever page that needs it, not just on a starting page.

A clearly labelled simple search box should be prominently located and always available anywhere in the application. Advanced search should be no more than one click away.

4. Always provide escape paths.

It should be a single action to back out when users finds themselves where they don’t want to be, or want to take back their actions if they change their mind. Help users recognise, diagnose, and recover from errors by error messages in plain language (no codes) that precisely indicate the problem, and constructively suggest a solution. Remember also not to oblige the user to remember details of the message if possible.