26 Apr How We’re Designing our New UI
And Why it’s so Important
Designing the UI for a site which is all about finding, organizing and viewing documents and information is no simple task. There are generally two extreme ends of the thought process spectrum where one might land: 1) Cram as much information on the page as you can to require the least amount of clicks and interaction from your users, or 2) Make your content light, airy, provocative, clean and uncluttered. By today’s design standards, most designers are going to lean far into the latter category, including myself. However, designing an application which is based around the idea of locating and providing information quickly is very different from, say, a basic informative site with some links. There has to be some sort of balance struck; users need quick access to a lot of data, but also don’t want to be overwhelmed.
There are a lot of ways to really get under a user’s skin without much effort. How often do you browse a web page and just feel overwhelmed by the amount of text, links, menus and tables of data? What about sites that practically blind you with bright, attention-grabbing colors that are plastered seemingly everywhere the designer could fit them? How often have you visited a site on your phone, only to be greeted with text the size of a pinhead and buttons you couldn’t even accurately press with a stylus (remember those?)? These are the types of user experiences that give us reason to say things like, “I don’t even know what to DO on this page! What do I click again?” or, the much more blunt but apt, “Wow, this site sucks.”
When you’re talking about a site that the user needs to interact with as part of their everyday workflow, these bad experiences are amplified and what started as a slight frustration on day one can become a massive deal to site users over time. So, where does that leave us on the aforementioned spectrum? And how is RhinoDox’s new UI going to avoid those pitfalls? There are three primary areas of focus that are being used to make every decision in the new UI: responsiveness, ease of use and a meaningful layout.
Responsiveness is, has been and will always continue to be a hot topic when talking about web design, and there are many very good reasons for that. Too many to list here. A workflow or page should never feel overwhelming or frustrating, regardless of the device you’re viewing it from. By incorporating responsive design, we ensure that the important workflows will always be available to our users in a way that never feels like it’s unplanned or crammed together.
Ease of Use
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but to expand on it a little further, nothing on the site should ever give a user a sense of frustration. You should never have to rack your brain trying to remember what hoops you had to jump through last time to get to “that page”. Everything should always make sense. If you’re on a page viewing a list of users in a company, it just makes sense that there should be a way to edit, add and delete users from that page, for example. Sounds like common sense, but it’s easy to overlook the importance of flow.
Cramped tables, flashy buttons, dark borders or heavy drop shadows around elements on a page are all examples of what can make a layout feel “heavy”. The goal, of course, is to change and avoid all that; items on a page should be inviting, and give the user a clear sense of understanding, and it should be very clear what a given page is for and what the various elements do. A sensible amount of padding, paired with light or muted tones, and content separated out into meaningful sections on a page can do wonders for this, and it’s something we strive for. What’s more, trying to cram too many parts of a flow onto one page can be an unhealthy practice. In order to give even the most information-heavy pages of the site an uncluttered experience, different tasks are separated meaningfully into tabs or separate, simple components.
By ensuring these practices are followed when designing and building pieces of our new site, we are paving the way to, what I believe at least, is an inviting and sensible new user experience, which will help our users get more of what they need done, and do it much quicker. Each click should be meaningful, the purpose of each page should be clearly-defined and most importantly, the flow of the site should make sense. At no point should a user ever feel overwhelmed, confused, lost or frustrated. As we move forward with the new UI development, I feel more and more excited with where we are heading, and I’m anxious to see it all in motion.
Interested in learning more about our product and how it could work for your organization? Check out our site to learn more.
Tess is the Frontend Engineer at RhinoDox. Before RhinoDox, she worked on multiple projects for large companies like Allstate. When Tess is not a busy rhino, she enjoys 3D printing and design, as well as gaming and disc golfing.