Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Webapp UI Style

There are two modes of thinking in webapp UI style. One is to make everything as flashy (or Flash-y), elaborate, and slick as possible. For some ad-branding sites this may be appropriate. Another approach is to keep a very clean, minimal, functional interface. The second approach is, as I think the success of Google shows, superior for most uses.

A great example is a tool I just used, the MSG to PDF converter by CoolUtils. I had a problem in that I was mailed some Outlook MSG files and needed to read them, but I don't have Outlook. It doesn't work with Outlook Express either. The CoolUtils converter let me upload the MSG file and download a PDF, with a very simple form click, and furthermore it was very fast, taking only seconds. And the output was quite nice, with color and proper formatting.

When writing your python webapps, apply Occam's Razor liberally. Don't make an extra button because you think it might someday be useful to somebody. If the user can't accomplish a simple task with one button-click, you're doing something wrong. Simplify. Map. Reduce. Your users will be happy.

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