A Toast to Usability

6772e_only_Faces_0015_Voronkoby Artem Voronko, ABBYY Interface Designer

In software engineering it pays to be very generous to users, especially when it comes to interface design.  All too often, programs’ GUIs require users to interpret graphics and menus that are more like complicated sobriety tests – rather than seamless, intuitive and near-automatic ways to speed through tasks. For example, one of my tasks when I joined the PDF Transformer team was to redesign its graphical interface with a view to mirroring the simplicity of Windows 8. This didn’t just mean having to make things look as simple as possible. Instead, I found it useful to imagine that our hypothetical user is very busy and doesn’t have time to study a new product  – and then I looked to creating an intelligently designed interface that would let the user’s intelligence prevail when accomplishing tasks. To do this we have to to help the user recognize key elements for what they are. And you can achieve this in many ways: using focused spots of bright color to draw the eye, by arranging related elements closer together and keeping those which are not related farther apart, etc. So remember to put yourself in the user’s state of mind – whatever that might be!

pdft pane