On the drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, somewhere in the area around Baker and Barstow, there’s an abandoned amusement park that was at some point someone’s brilliant idea for a profitable roadside attraction. I seem to remember the park being open or close to opening at some point, but if it ever did open it must not have lasted long, because I never heard about the park ever getting off the ground. Now it sits by the side of the highway, the deteriorating water slides and the parking lot overgrown with weeds serving as a visible reminder of the importance of accessibility. Although the park was right next to the highway, it was in the middle of nowhere, so it was not realistically accessible to any sizable population other than the travelers who passed through the area on the way to somewhere else.
When designing a user interface for a website, it is critical to keep in mind the concept of accessibility. A company could have a great website that offers valuable services, but if the user interface is difficult to understand or lacking in style or simplicity, the benefits of the website will go undiscovered by potential clients who will take one look at the user interface and decide to go to a different website.
First and foremost, a user interface must appear up-to-date. This criterion is quite subjective, but it is still relatively easy to tell whether a website looks new and stylish. If you have any doubt about whether your user interface looks old-fashioned or contemporary, compare the overall look of your user interface with those of other popular websites, or simply ask the nearest teenager whether the interface looks like it comes from the era of dial-up internet. In many ways, the overall appearance of a website determines its credibility; users are less likely to trust a website that appears amateur or outdated.
In addition to looking contemporary, it is important that websites feature a user interface that is relatively simplistic. In the world of web site design, less is definitely more, and although technology allows for complex displays and features, it is best to avoid the more flashy features and instead impress users with a simplified design. It is important to remember to user graphics well and to have a manageable amount of text on the main page of the website. I remember the first time I saw Facebook and how I was impressed by its simple design; I was on a weekend trip to Los Angeles to visit a college there and a friend I made on the trip went into an Apple store in Santa Monica to check her Facebook. I had only seen Myspace profiles before, and by comparison Facebook was noticeably free of the clutter that had taken over Myspace. It was this simple, minimalist style that helped Facebook dominate the social media market; the simple design appealed to college students and young professionals who were looking for a social media site that didn’t seem as overrun with juvenile flashiness. The meteoric rise of Facebook is just one example of how a simple user interface can attract more clients and bring attention to a business’s online presence.