UIs for the Rest of Us

by Jacquelyn Howard

August 25, 2010

Recently, as I was working on the SAP Professional Journal article, “Build Rich Internet Applications in SAP Using Web Dynpro ABAP and Flex,” I found myself amazed at how far Internet UIs have come since I tried using a VAX system for email.

In the SAP Professional Journal article, KK Ramamoorthy explains how Rich Internet applications (RIAs) help you take your Web pages beyond the limitations of HTML. (Adobe has some fun demos of RIAs, including this one for MINI, the Cooper automaker.)

However, with all the amazing ways we can interact with people via the Web, it’s important to remember that even among the be st UI designs, users want the basic functionality to be solid. I experienced this first hand when I was showing my in-laws how my husband and I have been using the Web to for house hunting. The realty sites have so many options to view on their pages that it can be overwhelming. So I had to laugh when a few days later, my father-in-law sent along an article he had read in his IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) update.

Edward J. Joyce, a principal software engineer at CA Technologies, wrote the excellent article titled “When Time Remaining Is Not Time Remaining.” At first I was afraid I was going to be reading a dreadful “make the most of your time remaining on Earth” article. Instead, I had to look away from the article several times because I was laughing so much. (Really, if you have a few minutes, I highly recommend you check it out! -- Just click the article link. Go on, I’ll be here when you are done.)

Joyce’s main point is that when creating these visually engaging Web pages, sometimes the most basic design elements are neglected. He sums his thoughts up well with:

"If you are a builder of software, consider how the design of the user interface can help alleviate mind-numbing drudgery for us keyboard-and-mouse-tethered workers of the information age."

Do you find yourself having similar thou ghts? What are some UI tips and tricks you’ve found to make your Web pages more accessible?

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