Interface Design is a stage of product design that focuses on how the product looks and feels. Often the problems of look and feel are mistakenly thought to be the entire design problem. But look and feel is only successful if the other design issues have been carefully crafted first. Interface Design answers the question: “How does the product look and feel?” (Werby, O. (2008). Interfaces.com: Cognitive Tools for Product Designers. CreateSpace, USA)
2. Interface Design:
There are many different interface types.
We will give example of web design. Concern of web design is with how best to structure information at the interface to enable users to navigate and access it easily and quickly. Early websites were largely text-based and providing hyper-links. Nowadays, websites are more emphasis on making pages distinctive, striking, and pleasurable.
This is an example of good interface web design. This websites is based on flash. Although flash has some disadvantages like the need for plugins, long loading time, etc, it is still one of the best tools to create an interactive website. This website is about the third generation Toyota Prius. It allows user to “control” the car on the website. It is also aesthetically pleasing and neat, and is in accordance to the good design principles of proper affordance, visibility, feedback, consistency and constraints.
As from the example above, it can be seen that a good interface design needs to have good controls. The button controls are neatly laid in consistent pattern and locations. The controls are also in ideal positions so as to not obstruct the content from the user. Good controls improves the user experience and can improve real-time interactivity. Also this is an example of good navigatability, with relevant links and controls that do not force clutter, especially for website designs. Both good control and navigatability are crucial in determining a good interface design.
Below is an example of bad a website design according to the design principles. It is full of every bad thing you can think of – cheesy music, butterflies, seagulls, swans flapping all over the site, sparkly stars, growing flowers, a mad blue background and it’s absolutely smothered in crap images.
A bad interface design as shown in the example above, has bad control as the buttons are inconsistently scattered and unorganized (i.e. Index Page). They also obstruct content by being placed in the middle of the screen and in very large sizes, forcing to user to have to scroll the page just to view the content he wants. There is also bad navigatability from this, as the bad clutter confuses the user and makes navigation a hassle.
In order to have a good interaction design (in general) or interface design (in particular), we have to follow the Design Principles and Usability Goals.
Design Principles: Affordance, Visibility, Feedback, Consistency and Constraints.
Usability Goals: Effectiveness, Efficiency, Safety, Utility, Learnability and Memorability.
As per the earlier examples, aside from the visual design according to the design principles, good controls and navigatability are also as cruicial to the user experience. They should feel natural for the user according to the usability goals, and be effective, efficient, safe, relevant, easily learnable and memorable.