Polished UI - Cost Effectively

Tactics to produce a polished (web) user interface, in a cost-effective manner.

This is different than the design, in that these issues are related to the user’s interaction, rather than the visual presentation. For example, the visual presentation would include the page layout, images, graphics, choice of color, attractive menus and page navigation. User interface is more commonly a part of applications, and is intended to help the user accomplish what they must do with the application. The user interface must be fairly easy to understand, and should be polished to present a professional appearance.

  • Start with a toolkit and if possible, a theme that works with it.
  • Find an icon set. The link above is excellent. You may need more than one set, and, since you only need to purchase it once, it is worth choosing carefully. Be aware of any license restrictions.
  • Be creative. If you can’t find the ‘perfect’ icon, use a keyboard character, or a different icon.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Disable controls the user can’t use, based on the current state of the page.
  • Remember the functionality probably takes precedence over the UI. When pressed for time, get it working, then make it pretty.
  • Limit the list of supported browsers. IE6+ and FF2+ is a good starting point.
  • Keep track of the time spent per page. This will allow you to give better estimates, and help management understand the costs of the project.
  • Donate to support any free tools you use.