Jeff Veen – Designing Better Web App Interfaces

Jeff Veen of Google is the Project Lead of MeasureMap and he spoke at the Future of Web Applications regarding designing a better web user interface. Jeff start off his talk by saying that buzzwords are often used as a proxy for intelligent thought. He also reminded the attendees that booms and bust are cyclical. What I like most of Jeff’s talk was when he said that web applications need to go beyond visual design and move into interaction design.

Another key theme from Jeff’s conversation was about building trust with your users. Jeff recommends that the UI be developed in such a way that it builds a sense of trust with users. Another way to build trust with users is to allow the threat your users as peers and share the users own data in graphs and by providing power tools to passionate users. You should think of new ways to expose data to your users. A social network is built on social trust, don’t be antisocial with your users!

Another key observation made by Jeff was the all the speakers were Anglo-Saxon males! This is an important observation because the trend online is that English is no longer the language of the internet.

Jeff also talked about the four design principles of design, which include discoverability, recoverability, context, and feedback. Discoverability as a design principle means that applications should suggest features but not distract users from their goals. It is always a good way to provide users a way to recover their actions, actions should come without a cost. A web application should display context at all times, such as time, place, user name, position, rank, and any other pertinent information. And lastly, by feedback Jeff is referring to how the system responds to users’ actions. Ajax is a great way to provide feedback to users. Jeff quote Bruce Strerling in saying that Ajax is like “roller skates for the web.”

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