October 31st, 2006
In our current research at UIE, we frequently observe the ongoing debate between usability and visual design. Can an application become more usable just by changing its aesthetics? Do we really need to know the underlying code of an application? There is increasing pressure to make web applications more functional, while at the same time to make those web applications pleasing to the eye.
Our research has shown that the most successful teams all have something in common: they effectively communicate with each other. The key for team members to successfully communicate is to have a solid understanding of the fundamentals. Developers need to understand the essentials of graphic design, and designers need to understand the inner workings of web applications.
When everyone on the team understands the basic principles of graphic design, the importance of visual organization and visual hierarchy becomes apparent. Both play huge roles in attracting users to web sites, not to mention maintaining their interest. The interface of a web application is the first thing a user experiences, making its design critical to success.
In today’s UIEtips, we are reprinting a fascinating article written by Luke Wroblewski back in 2003. Luke is the principal of LukeW Interface Designs as well as a principal designer for Yahoo! He also recently spoke at UI11, where he received rave reviews. In this article, Luke discusses how the arrangement of visual elements in a web application can coerce users to evaluate the content and interactions you want them to see most.
If you would like to learn more about visual design, you can catch Luke Wroblewski at the UIE Web App Summit. Luke will present Best Practices for Form Design: Bridging the Gap with Your Customers, a comprehensive look at how web form design can influence user behavior on your web site. Luke will also explain how a well-structured visual hierarchy can steer users in the direction you want them to take on your web page in Web Application Page Hierarchy. I highly suggest you check them out.
Are you struggling with the visual design of your web applications? Have you found a visual design that successfully communicates with your users? I’d love to hear about your experiences. Share your thoughts with us and join the conversation in the comments below.
[If you're working on web applications, you really want to sign up for the UIE Web App Summit we're holding in Monterey, CA this January. At this 3-day event, you'll meet the pioneers and world-class designers behind today's successful web applications. For more information about the summit, see the summit website.]Tweet