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Elements of Interface Design

First ... count and the first ... a visitor receives whenthey arrive at a site is the look or visual appeal of the design. ... design of a site is referred to as the ... Ju

First impressions count and the first impression a visitor receives when
they arrive at a site is the look or visual appeal of the design. The
visual design of a site is referred to as the interface. Judging a Web
site by it's interface design is similar to judging a book by its cover
or judging a person by their looks. It may not be logical but it is
typical human nature.

Outward appearance presents the image and professionalism of the site
company or owner and it can affect the comfort level of the visitor.
Interface design consists of specific elements, all or some of which are
used regularly in the creation of a site's "face". Knowing what these
elements are, and how to use them well, will assist you in your

1) Say It With Symbols. Symbolism is used often in interface design in
the form of icons or graphics. That first impression must be made
quickly before the site visitor clicks away and without a voice, a Web
site relies on imagery for representation. Services, product or content
can be splashed on the screen as a grabber or colours, fonts and images
can present an online presence, whether professional or playful.
Symbolism can be metaphoric, abstract or conceptual and is a powerful
visual aid to a site visitor.

2) Keep It Uncluttered. Every feature of the interface should be obvious
to the visitor and should be used based on need, otherwise it becomes
clutter. A font that is hard to read, graphics that look like buttons
but are not linked, text that is underlined as headings are elements
that do not perform their purpose. To avoid confusion, design using
features that are needed to present the image you are working towards
and that assist in the navigation of your site while flattering the

3) Make Navigation Easy. Navigation often influences the interface
design more than most designers would like it to. This important aspect
must be consistent and must be logical to the visitor. Consistent
navigation means that your menu is a part of your interface - it will be
on each page. This aspect of your design will be affected by the
structure you have chosen for the site. Good navigation design can be
added to as the site grows without negatively interfering with the
design of the interface.

4) Orientate Your Visitor. Each new visitor to a site is like an
explorer. Without guidance in the form of headings, titles, links,
brands and logos, they may not know where to go or where they are
within the structure of the site. The interface design must also include
features that orientate the visitor, especially if the site is large and
has many sections and sub-sections. The designer can maintain a feeling
of familiarity with consistency in design, orientate the visitor with
headings and titles and can guide the visitor easily with clear

5) Stay Consistent. Consistency, as I've mentioned, is very important in
many of the interface design elements as well as colour, font, and
graphics. When the interface changes, the visitor thinks they have left
the site. Confusion leads to bookmarks. Remember this. When a site
visitor feels uncomfortable, is confused or irritated by a Web site they
are two clicks away from a familiar site that is linked in their
bookmarks or favourites. Two clicks.

Is there more? There is always more. Designing Web sites is a challenge
and requires skills, knowledge, experience and flexibility because by
the time you read this, the Internet and all its dimensions will have
improved or changed, possibly enough to create a domino effect that will
alter Interface design. However, the basics of Interface design remain
the same and include symbolism, clarity, navigation, structure,
guidance and consistency. Know the basic rulesFind Article, become familiar with
them and then you can decide whether you are good enough to break them.

Article Tags: Interface Design

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Cheryl R Cowtan is the CEO of Virtual Visions Online
( and specializes in Web site planning, Interface
design, and Internet Marketing. Her company offers free quotes on
services, free design tips and resources and you can join her free ABCs
of Design and Marketing newsletter at

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