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Bugimus
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: New California
Insane since: Mar 2000

IP logged posted posted 07-22-2007 16:59 Edit Quote

We all use software tools to do our jobs and enjoy our hobbies. The graphics we find on user interfaces range from aesthetically stunning to visually painful.

I have a project where I need to recommend a look and feel for a technical web application. Of course the people doing it want it to look as best as possible but they are very short on ideas.

I've always been fond of a slightly raised metallic look for buttons and menus with a tasteful gradient.

Yahoo and Google web apps seem to take a more practical text based with minimal graphic enhancement direction.

Then, of course, there are some far out approaches that may fall more under the heading of art than practicality. I am hoping to find the happy medium between art and practicality which is probably a holy grail of UI design.

What are your thoughts? Do you have some interesting approaches to share? What are your favorite styles?

: . . Innervating Your Eyes & Mind : . . .

zavaboy
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: f(x)
Insane since: Jun 2004

IP logged posted posted 07-22-2007 19:41 Edit Quote

I personally think Apple has some of the best GUIs even though I don't currently own any Apple products. They seem to know how to keep it smooth, inviting, and above all, simple.

Tyberius Prime
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist with Finglongers

From: Germany
Insane since: Sep 2001

IP logged posted posted 07-22-2007 20:01 Edit Quote

Apple: and above all, terribly annoying for anyone who does not have a finger glued to the mouse.
Yes, Apple products look pretty, and have some (not 100%) nice features - but without quicksilver,
my Mac OS X machine would be just about unusable...

User Interface design is usally difficult, and getting a good balance between 'pretty' and 'usable', go for usable every time... some decoration is ok in my mind, but keep it both low on load times and on the user's concious... interaction elements need to look like interaction elements, and background must be just that, in the background.

A decent logo, a good colorscheme, and a definite style to 'elements the user can interact with', as well as 'keep to the user's expectations' is usually a good start - google web apps are a de facto standard, and I wouldn't stray too far from that in order to 'look cool'.

enough rant,
more food,
so long,

->Tyberius Prime

poi
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: Norway
Insane since: Jun 2002

IP logged posted posted 07-22-2007 20:57 Edit Quote

I don't think I use any web applications ( does Facebook and forums qualify as web apps ? ), and actual applications are a different beast.

I'm pretty used to PhotoShop's ( 7 and CS2 ) GUI. I really like what I've seen of CS3 and Lightroom : The same ideas as in the previous products but with a more structured GUI.

Recently I've had a look at some sound software, just by curiosity, and have been impressed by the GUI of Dekadence and Fruity Loop. Dealing with audio processing, it's no surprise that they can get very busy but from what the videos I saw it seems to help the musicians have a fluid workflow .

As for some web applications' GUI, Tyberius Prime said it all. Thing should be kept simple and accessible. Make sure the active elements are perceived as such and have a tooltip explaining what they do. Also you don't want to slow down the app because of the graphics.

reisio
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: Florida
Insane since: Mar 2005

IP logged posted posted 07-22-2007 21:46 Edit Quote

Mmmm, Ion.

Petskull
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: 127 Halcyon Road, Marenia, Atlantis
Insane since: Aug 2000

IP logged posted posted 07-23-2007 17:17 Edit Quote

I've always liked the Lifestreams project... but then, that has nothing to do with this...

kimson
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: Royal Horsing Ground
Insane since: Jan 2005

IP logged posted posted 07-23-2007 17:30 Edit Quote

A List Apart is one of my all time favourites, and the only one I can think of seriously for now.

{edit}

Oh, and this is very gracious too.

In a few words: a couple of attractive graphics, clear links and buttons, plenty of white space (around blocks of texts, line spacing, etc.), no more than 2-4 different colours are all things that make a good interface to me.

______________________________________

The Fat Controller is gonna get you in the end.

(Edited by kimson on 07-23-2007 17:35)

NoJive
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: The Land of one Headlight on.
Insane since: May 2001

IP logged posted posted 07-23-2007 19:29 Edit Quote

You might find this interesting Bugs.

http://infosthetics.com/

___________________________________________________________________________
"Capitalism hears all prayers...." Lore Sjöberg

CPrompt
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: there...no..there.....
Insane since: May 2001

IP logged posted posted 07-25-2007 02:16 Edit Quote
quote:

Bugimus said:

technical web application



not real sure what you mean by this. that's a pretty broad range to me. I guess user friendly is what is most important to me. I don't care for web applications that use a bunch of images for buttons and such. there was a nice ajax framework that I was looking at a bit ago that had some nice interfaces. I'll dig it up and let you see what you think.

btw, good to hear from you again.

Later,

C:\

Bugimus
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: New California
Insane since: Mar 2000

IP logged posted posted 07-25-2007 16:59 Edit Quote

It's good to be back and I really appreciate the great links and ideas everyone!

I say technical web app because the type of information relates to signal processing and low level hardware stats. I believe the users will most likely be "techie/engineer" types.

: . . Innervating Your Eyes & Mind : . . .

WarMage
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: Rochester, New York, USA
Insane since: May 2000

IP logged posted posted 07-25-2007 18:30 Edit Quote

When I am using a technical web application I find that I want it to be easy and I do not want it to get in my way. When I am on a technical web application it is usually something that I will be using more than one time, and more often it is a constant reference.

The very important things to me are:

1. An excellent search mechanism. I want to be able to type in my search term and present me with the exact document I am looking for. PHP.com has a search feature that is great. I can type in mysql_connect and I will be taken to the mysql_connect function page. That is a great feature that I use all of the time.

2. I want the site to be really readable. I am most likely going to be sitting on this site for a couple of hours pouring over documentation. I really want to be able to easily read the content. 20-30em line lengths, and bigger text sizes. I want to be able to sit back in my chair and read the document, not have to be really close in there.

3. It has to print really nicely. An alternate stylesheet for printing is 100% needed. I might get tired of looking at the screen and want to take the documents offline for an easier read.

4. I want to be able to be able to access my recent history without being logged in. A list that keeps track of where I have been so I can back to a previous point is really nice. Keeping track of this in a session is a perfect way to do this.

5. I want to be able to open the site in multiple tabs without losing anything.

The UI style is really secondary as long as it does not get in my way. I want it to be clean and consistent. I should have a header that can take me everywhere I might want to go, and a footer that can get me back to the main area, next page, or topic index.

You will find that most technical webapps are minimal in their approach to design. The widget set should be consistent and convey meaning. Nothing I look at should make me wonder why it is like that.

Some examples:

http://www.mozilla.org/developer/
http://www.php.net/
http://www.prototypejs.org/api
http://api.rubyonrails.org/
http://java.sun.com/j2se/1.4.2/docs/api/index.html

Both of these sites have a similar type of layout that really helps the user get around their site. Prototype, Java and Rails do not have a search feature which sucks. All of them allow you to dig down to the content document you want pretty effectively.

A great full featured webapplication is http://www.basecamphq.com/ which really stays out of your way. Again a really minimal design style that lets you do what you need to do, and does not hinder you.

Dan
Code Town | Zombie Head | How Much TP?



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