3 things an interface does

The interface starts on an output device, for example, a monitor or projector. Interfaces are solely designed for us humans because computers do not require interfaces to compute calculations. What does an interface do?

An interface impacts memory
  • Pleasing designs
  • Functional designs
  • Emotional designs
Memorable interfaces are ones we share with family and friends since they make us think differently. Who uses an excellent interface and stays silent about it? Memorable interfaces spark conversations.
An interface allows us to remember functions. Interfaces are not just about looks, they help us learn and, even better, interact with a system.
Fantastic interfaces cause us to have emotional responses with that interface and, thus, specific web sites. If you use a beautiful site that is easy to use, functional, and designed with accessibility and usability factors that site will evoke positive emotions, for instance, joy or interest. If the site also uses fun elements the site further enhances the positive emotional state because it is fun. Who does not like fun? It is, however, worth noting that some sites require a professional tonality and fun is therefore unsuitable. Your audience is key to triggering emotional states.
Emotions

Emotional wheel. Copyright of Wikimedia Commons.

An interface enhances relationships
  • Accessibility
  • Functional
  • Usable
  • Trust
  • System interaction
All interfaces are designed to establish interactions. Building relationships with your audience increases user interaction. Designs at their best are interactive relationships.

Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another.
(Wikipedia).

Interactive effects can be direct, for example obtaining a useful piece of information, or indirect by, for instance, subconsciously thinking that a design is usable and pleasant to look at.
Interfaces communicate
Interfaces allow user’s to communicate, for example, the menu element enables users to press a button to go to another web page. Small buttons affect communication. The size of interface elements is vital to aid communication.
In the last few years interfaces have started to hide and disappear. It is now accepted to hide details, for example, an address might be hidden but activated once a mouse hovers over a specific region, such as, a small arrow, for instance. User’s love to learn hidden interfaces.

Values of hidden interfaces

Users love hidden interfaces because: hidden commands help with efficiency; they evoke emotional responses, for example, learning a new shortcut triggers happy emotions since hidden commands lead to a sense of achievement; users like to show hidden interfaces to their friends and family, thus hidden interfaces give a sense of social value. Embrace hidden commands. Users react positively to finding hidden commands.

At first, however, hidden commands can be mistaken for a mistake. Those users who are willing to explore will re-encounter that “mistake” and link it to a hidden interface. We love to learn. Hidden interfaces facilitate learning.

Just as humans look very different, we each learn differently too. Some users will be quicker than others whenever they learn hidden interface commands.

An example of a hidden command

If you have Twitter’s mobile app, long press the “compose new tweet” button to bring up your draft messages. Alternatively if you have more than 1 account go to your “me” section and drag your photo all the way down to the bottom. This triggers a command allowing you to switch user accounts. Each of these functions are not new sections of the app, they are simply different ways to communicate with the system.

Have you found a new hidden interface or command recently? Tweet Gerald.

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Reference

  1. Lee, M. Kim, D. Kim, H. and Nam, T. (2012) Understanding Impacts of Hidden Interfaces on Mobile Phone User Experience. CHI ’12. pp. 45–48
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