What is a Good User Interface?

The primary theme for the NAUUG was modernization of apps, and it’s clear that within the Uniface community, there is a fair amount of interest in the topic. We had an interesting discussion over breakfast at the event, I think it was on Wednesday, and it was all round the topic of what is a ‘good user interface?’.  It was quite interesting to gauge various points of view, and what specifically influenced our VAR partners who resell their applications which are built in Uniface.

Now I don’t have the answer to this, I don’t claim to be particularly creative, but it was fascinating to pick up some of the points of view.  For example, somebody shared a story about their product manager being completely hung up on a windows look and feel that is as close to a MS application as possible, and during one of their discussions, showed a screen shot from an iPAD app! (gotta love Product Managers!).

Over the past year or so, I’ve talked to a few customers who taken the whole User Experience topic seriously enough to have engaged external companies to help them come up with designs for their applications. This is something I can relate to, both during my time at Aurion, and also as we work on Uniface 10 as we have also sought external help.  It does seem that all of the ‘UX professionals’ seem to always go back to a few basic points, about navigation and also color schemes. And it does appear that the Microsoft Windows look and feel is becoming less important, and more Apple and rich Web styled applications that are becoming the norm. I wonder if this trend will continue as more business apps move to the web, and Apple devices become more and more widespread with the rumored iPad Mini bringing the iOS user experience to more and more people.

2 thoughts on “What is a Good User Interface?”

  1. Very true that the trend for Apple and Web styled applications are getting the norm. I recently spoke with a Uniface user who stated: 10 years ago we wanted our Web Pages to look like Windows, 3 years the trend reversed and Windows pages needed to look like Web pages, today everyone below 30 wants their app to look like Facebook…

    On the other hand we see end users are sticking to existing User Interfaces. “I don’t want my app to work to different then yesterday” also has a level of truth in it.

    I’m curious to hear from others how they feel about this. In times of budget constraints should we keep our UI the way it is or should we prepare our apps for the next generation of end-users who expects direct integration of your CRM system with Facebook?

    By the way, Uniface 9.6 will offer functionality to have your application look like Facebook. George M did Skype already in the 9.6 pre view.

  2. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. There are many companies building websites that look very business like (Windows like?). It is the reason of existence for products like ExtJS, but also very well possible with Uniface RIA. And on Windows clients you see more applications that no longer follow the windows theme but use their own web-like user interface. Uniface 9.6 makes it possible to do that in Uniface too. And with the new HTML widget it even becomes possible to make a hybrid Windows/Web application!

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