In our day to day, each of us use a range of software products.
Each product is designed with a slightly different take on how much interface is just right.
Some go incredibly minimal, others go all out.
Just how much interface is “enough” interface?
I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to this, as each product has a different context — but we can find a balance for that context.
Here’s my approach to finding the right balance of interface within a product.
1 — What task is the user trying to complete?
Different tasks call for different “amounts” of interface.
Take writing a new story on Medium for example. Hit the “New Story” button, and you’re presented with this.
I’ve never thought much about this page I’ve stared at for many, many hours — but I like it for a range of reasons.
There are no distractions, because you’ve got plenty of other distractions on your phone or in the other tabs in your browser — Twitter, Facebook, etc.
It gives the user everything they need, and nothing else.
The interface acknowledges that this task is primarily about what you create, and adapts to suit that.
2 – What do users need from the interface to complete that task?
Take the time to really think about each task in isolation.
Focus solely on that user’s “moment”, and what they need to maximise their outcome.
I like to write a list of everything that comes to my mind around a task, and then filter out what isn’t strictly necessary to complete that task.
These tasks may be great additions later, but having the strict necessities forms a nice basis for deciding just how much interface to give a user.
Click on a photo from Unsplash, and this is the interface you get — download, collect, like and close.
The interface shows a great focus on the user’s task — finding, viewing and downloading photos.
3 – What does the feedback/data/current scenario telling us?
Looking at data and user feedback is a great way to find out how well suited the interface is to the user’s requirements.
Look at your analytics, and see what the completion rate is on the relevant task you’re looking at. Are a high % of people completing the task? Could that % be higher?Run user testing. Ask people to complete various tasks, and see what their feedback is around those tasks.
This will enable you to then look back and determine whether the interface supporting that task needs to be dialled back or more features added.
Next time you’re thinking how much interface is enough, try these three steps and let me know if they worked for you. Thanks for reading!
Nathan Allsopp is a Sydney-based Product Manager/Designer.