At the root of any successful computer program, application or website is the realm in which human interaction is required in order to successfully communicate with automation. It may be as simple as clicking a radio button or as complex as remembering all six secret questions before access to the online bank account is granted, or so it can seem. The key to success is simplification in what can be a complex arena known as the user interface (UI).

Planning to Succeed
A number of easy steps can help anyone endeavoring to effect a more productive and positive experience for the user who bothers to land on a website, an electronic game, an app or any means of electronic interaction with the purpose of achieving an intended goal. Think Obamacare, and the importance of successful communication and user interaction quickly becomes clear.

Resist the Temptation to Try a Novel Approach
The complexity of the human-machine interaction (HMI) comes down to interpretations both from the designer’s perspective and the user’s experience. Fundamentally, time and use have proved users are familiar with the way they expect interface elements to function. Essentially, there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

User-Friendly Interfaces Adopt Ergonomics
Keeps things simple, anticipate expectations and avoid unnecessary actions that are better hidden from the user’s experience. This means employing common elements such as patterns in language, page layout and appearance that carries throughout the website. Avoid interface bloat from stuffing pages, but remember to include the necessary information or elements that provide sufficient knowledge for the user to easily adapt and apply any advances in skill level throughout the site as well.

Use Graphics to Draw Attention to Important Elements

Making pages purposeful encompasses the use of space, color, texture, light and contrast, typeface and typography. Remember that when items are strategically placed for the way the eye scans, it is possible to increase readability. Users are consumers who have developed an efficient skill of consuming web pages. Cater for that with a system that communicates status, defines next steps, informs progress and identifies errors all with the goal of reducing user frustration.

Enhance the User’s Internal Locus of Control
The most successful UIs make use of psychology. When the goal of any website is to obtain participation on the part of the visitor, it helps to give the user a sense that a positive outcome is contingent upon their actions or what psychologists refer to as internal locus of control. This includes rewards as opposed to punishment such as in the case of automated responses that deliver an unforgiving experience.

Consider the User’s Point of View
A website that does not provide the means at the disposal of the user to remedy errors or mistakes delivers the external locus of control, an orientation that makes them feel powerless in facing a website that provides a decidedly difficult experience. This does not engender a positive result and typically sends the user to a website that provides a stronger sense of self-efficacy.

A Better Perspective in Conclusion
The goal of nascent websites is to keep building the base. Good taste and sound engineering judgment are what is called for in attaining this goal. Designing any interface should rely on the Principle of Least Astonishment (POLA), which considers the consequences of forcing users to pay attention to too many things at once. Isolate features to the task at hand for the user.

Designers, like programmers, are clever creatures. There is always the risk that the unconscious tendency to demonstrate this will belabor the user experience. When considering things from the user’s perspective, follow the Rule of Least Surprise. Less truly is more and making the effort to reduce the complexity of function in an interface is paramount to ensuring a positive user experience.