Thursday, July 27, 2006

Designing Powerful Web Applications: An Interview with David Malouf

UIE interview...

"At UIE, we’ve been investigating how sites such as Google, Flickr, and Del.icio.us use new interaction models to create more powerful user experiences. The thing that excites us the most is that we’re now seeing Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) applications suddenly give application developers a new way to approach hard problems with surprisingly effective results.

UIE’s Joshua recently interviewed David (Heller) Malouf, a premier Interaction Designer, to discuss the issues involved when development teams are thinking about designing web applications using AJAX and RIAs. Here’s what David had to say:

UIE: How can designers add richness to their web sites while keeping them easy to use?

David (Heller) Malouf: RIAs (Rich Internet Applications) are not any different from other software solutions. Developers need to follow some basic User Experience design principles. They have to choose the right design to fit the right context of use against what we know about users’ cognitive capabilities.

I warn development teams not to be too enthusiastic with new and cool technologies. This is what initially led to Jakob Nielsen’s decree that Flash is “99% bad." Most of the challenges associated with developing RIAs are design issues and not technological problems.

How can developers deal with design problems? The only way they can know if their application works well for users is through testing. One technique I suggest for development teams is to test an existing RIA. How are people using applications such as Yahoo Mail Beta, Gmail, and Zimbra? The best thing about design is that you never have to feel the need to start from scratch.

Developers can also leverage new design conventions. The Yahoo Design Pattern Library is an amazing resource to help teams out. However, I warn teams not to get too caught up in conventions. I have personally fallen into the copy-cat design methodology. Conventions are guidelines and not rules. They can be extrapolated upon easily and creatively to evolve into new conventions. So look to examples for guidance, but not for solutions."   (Continued via UIE)       [Usability Resources]

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