Tag Archives: design

User interfaces start to fade

Companies build customer communication and interaction through apps and mobiles. Graphical user interfaces (GUIs) provide communication platforms that allow user, and customer, interaction.

GUI, usability and gestures

Poor GUI designs foster ineffective communication. Just because your concept’s hardware and software, for instance, is powerful does not mean you have a powerful interface. Product success is led by interfaces so GUIs need to be well designed.

Usability focuses on how easy an interface is to learn and discover. Memorability, a usefulness example, focuses on a design’s ability to be easy to remember and learn. Non-overwhelming and simple GUIs also make hidden features easily discoverable. Usability-led designers think of stressed users, for instance, because stress impairs memory and, thus, realises that designs need to communicate to everyone, regardless of concentration span. Usability designers are inclusive and inclusive design is effective because your GUI is available to a greater number of people.

Gestures are non-verbal and non-vocal forms of communications, for example, shaking or double tapping a screen. Gestures however can cause usability issues because some users will be disadvantaged or, even worse, left out. Thorough planning and usability testing helps to overcome poor GUI designs.

User interface analogy

Good design interfaces begin to become invisible to the user. Scipi and Massicco (2013: online) also suggest that well designed user interfaces should feel like a comfortable piece of clothing, that is, positively unnoticeable. Interface designs just like emotional designs tap, mainly, into our conscious and unconscious mind.

The graphical user interface (GUI) is not about graphics it is visible through, for example, menus, possible actions that are also easily discoverable. GUI, gestures and usability are not yet balanced because some GUIs are not completely usable.

User interfaces fade & disappear

Great GUIs will one day allow many of us to effortlessly communicate and interact with technology with minimal interface interaction. Interface disappearance has been round since the 1990s and increasing hidden interfaces, see Google’s History example below, are beginning to push interfaces further away. This reduces the amount of time required by a user on a GUI.

A cafe's usability test showing eye movements.

Usability test of a cafe. Source: Azwaldo.

Twitter’s GUI viewpoint

Twitter’s mobile GUI has deeply hidden interfaces. If, for instance, you long press the “compose a tweet” button you can access your draft messages or, as another example, you select the “me” button and swipe your finger from right to left you can change Twitter accounts. These features are prime examples of faded and hidden user interfaces.

Interface design and search

Google’s search engine has undergone a lot of interface changes. If you sign into your account and go to your Google History you will see a list of websites you recently visited. Hover your mouse over any of your histories and you’ll notice a check box appears. This is an example of a hidden interface. Is it clear, without user interaction, that you can delete your Google search history? Not really. Hidden interfaces are increasing.

The presentation of search results shape how a searcher interacts with the search engine. In fact the presentation is of equal importance to ranking algorithms. Simple search interfaces also allow users to see results quickly which changes how we interact with a search engine results page.

Do you work in design? Tweet Gerald your thoughts.

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  1. Jacob, R.J.K. (2000) User Interfaces. In Encyclopedia of Computer Science. Fourth Edition edition. By Ralston, A. Reilly, E.D. and Hemmendinger, D. Grove Dictionaries Inc
  2. Lim, Y. (2012) Disappearing interfaces. ACM interactions. pp. 36–39
  3. Norman, D. (no date) Natural User Interfaces Are Not Natural. [Online] [Accessed on 19th October 2013]
  4. Scipi, K. and Massicco, K. (2013) Visual Design for Any Enterprise User Interface | Art School in a Box. [Online] [Accessed on 19th October 2013]
  5. Weiser, M. (1994) Creating the invisible interface: (invited talk). In UIST ’94 Proceedings of the 7th annual ACM symposium on user interface software and technology.

Responsive Web Design and Search Engine Optimisation

Responsive Web Design was coined by Ethan Marcotte, in his article “A List Apart”, in 2010. Marcotte claimed that mobile users of his article would surpass desktop usage within three to five years (Mellone and Williams 2010:121).

What is Responsive Web Design (RWD)

RWD ensures your user enjoys the best, and an optimal, experience whenever they visit your website (Sharkie et al :ix). It is, therefore, user-focused because the user is at the forefront of your design: Your website adjusts to a users’ desktop/laptop, graphics tablet and/or smartphone.

RWD and search engine optimisation

  • With RWD you only need one SEO campaign because you do not require a separate one for a .m (mobile) version of your website.
  • RWD also adds to the user experience because a users’ device is adapted to have the best possible experience.
  • RWD and SEO, additionally, allows your website to be used by mobile searchers. In other words, mobile momentors can search for a term and view your website on their mobile. This is important because mobile search is going to be the future of search.

83% of tablet owners use their device whilst watching TV

Moth (2013) identified that 83% of 6500 people used their graphic tablet while watching TV. This suggests that RWD will remain very important to give mobile users (i.e. smartphone, and graphic tablets) a comfortable experience as they visit your wesbite.

What do people do on their graphic tablet?

Work / Business*
73% browse the web. 69% access their e-mails. 67% remotely work from their graphic tablet.
Home / Personal*
78% browse the web. 74% access their e-mails. 74% play games on their graphic tablet.

*Statistics from (Visual.ly 2013: online)

What is the connection of RWD to SEO?

So if more and more people are using graphic tablets, and other mobile devices, it is clear that RWD enables a website to be found, accessed correctly and protrayed in the most positive light: A comfortable user experience could help with sales, or page views, because the website has a good user-focused design. SEO is becomming local, RWD goes hand-in-hand with SEO because the latter allows your website to be displayed correctly whilst the former allows this formatted website to be found by mobile users.


  1. Moth, D. (2013) 10 interesting digital marketing stats we’ve seen this week. [Online] [Accessed on 29th March 2013] http://alturl.com/v5az4
  2. Mellone, J. T. and Williams, D. J. (2010) ‘Applying best practices in web site redesign: the Queens College Libraries experience.’ OCLC Systems & Services. 26(3) pp. 177 — 197
  3. Sharkie, C. and Isher, A. (2013) Jump Start Responsive Web Design. VIC Australia: SitePoint Ltd.
  4. Visual.ly (2013) 2013 Mobile Business Predictions. [Online] [Accessed on 29th March 2013] http://alturl.com/3j8ak

Mobile search and responsive design

Mobile search has increased by 500% in the past two years and by 2016 the use of mobile data traffic will increase in Europe by 84% (34SP.com 2012: online). But what does this mean for website design companies, SEO specialists and other user’s of the Web?

Search is going mobile

We are now using our mobile more and more and we will be using them even more with time. If we are using mobiles more then we are more likely to use mobile search more. We might search for a term we have not heard of before, or quickly check the opening hours of that store we are planning to go to, for example.

What if a mobile searcher finds your website in a SERP? Is your site mobile friendly?

Responsive design: clever technology that adapts to your device

If you are a business, or are a user trying to promote your website online, you will need to consider getting a new website with responsive design. Responsive design, in a nutshell, allows people to vist your website on a desktop computer, laptop, graphics tablet (e.g. Apple’s iPad) and a smartphone. Your site will change depending on what device a user is viewing your site on.

Nuts.com (as in almond and peanuts, of course!) is an e-commerce website that has been created using responsive design. You are best trying to access this site yourself to enjoy this technology. Open it up on your smartphone and laptop, see the difference?

These technologies put the user first and search engines second. Search engines like user focused websites.

So next time you upgrade your website, or would like to get a fresh look — you should consider responsive design. Make mobile searcher’s jobs’ easier; allow them to view your site on their mobile.


  1. 34SP.com. (2012) Will the Mobile Internet Overtake the Desktop? [Online] [Accessed on 19th Feb 2013] http://www.34sp.com/blog/chit-chat/will-the-mobile-internet-overtake-the-desktop/