Choose Your Own Adventure: An Introduction to User Interface and User Experience

Jonathan Barrett - Steamboat Springs, CO - Simply Done Tech Solutions

Jonathan S. Barrett
Senior Web Developer/Designer, SEO Specialist

My favorite books growing up were always “Choose Your Own Adventure.” After each chapter was read, you were given a few options of which action you wanted to take next. The instructions on the page would then tell you which page number you were to jump to continuing your reading journey based on that decision.

This metaphor applies very well to the role that user interface and user experience play in the process of web design and development. Essentially, websites function similarly to these old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books but in a digital format. A website visitor finds a particular page of interest and begins to read/interact with the content resulting in movement in a particular self-chosen direction, limited to the flow/layout of the information and links found on the page.  If a user doesn’t like or need the options given, they may end the interaction by closing the window of their web browser.

Following are basic definitions for user interface and user experience.

User Interface: All aspects of a design that a human has the ability to interact with. Particularly, related to web development, this is the visual interface that a user interacts with on a mobile device, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.

User Experience: User experience concerns all aspects that collectively create the emotions and attitudes of a human during their interaction with a product or service, including all lasting impressions.

Collectively, these two concepts work together to provide the end user with their perceived experience and resulting value taken from that particular experience. Following are just a handful of elements or tools utilized in user interface and user experience design.

It is always important to remember that, as with anything related to perception and understanding, there are as many paths as there are people. Remain mindful and intentional with all aspects of the design of your user interface and user experience. By focusing on communicating your intended voice as clearly and accurately as possible, the highest probability of connecting with your intended audience is presented. It’s all in the details!

For example, in the previous list beginning with ‘Color Psychology,’ each item gets slightly shorter in character length naturally guiding the reader’s eye down the list through ‘Storytelling,’ ending with the point of emphasis, ‘Ease of Use,’ which is slightly longer in character length providing a footing and an endpoint. By being mindful of the order in which the list of elements are displayed you are helping your reader internalize the presented information with as minimal effort as possible.

It’s equally important to not overthink this particular area of design and development. It kind of zaps the fun out of the creative process, which will ultimately eliminate a unique user experience altogether. However, having an understanding of these basic design concept tenets does help to conceptualize and visualize different perspectives and avenues for your website visitor who is choosing their own path.

As web developers, designers and digital marketers, the ultimate goal is to deliver the information being sought after to the intended audience. Both user interface and user experience play significant roles in the decision making of all individuals interacting with websites and applications found on the world wide web.

Instead of reading and flipping through the pages of a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book, that next step on the path to information is now just one click away!