When I first started out in designing User Interfaces, way, way back when, I worked in-house for a high-tech B2B software company where all the buttons in the product were graphics. One of my many tedious jobs was to create images for any and all buttons that the product needed, and there were A LOT of buttons!
Numerous times I had an engineer come to me as ask for a new button with a generic label, something like “Request”. I would then step through the process of asking the million dollar questions… “What screens is this on?” “What is user is trying to accomplish?” and “Why do you think the button should have this name?” Inevitably the answer to that last question was always, “because that’s what it does on the back end, I’m making a request to the database”.
The user doesn’t care what the back end does or what technical term you use when coding. The user is simply trying to accomplish a task. The question is, what exactly is that task and how can we make that experience as straight forward and easy as possible.
Don’t Make Me Click.
Now, I could launch into a how to properly name your buttons and if this was say 3 years ago I probably would have. How the label should be a specific action item, think verbs followed by possible noun, and how you need to be consistent throughout the entire product and so on and so forth; however, now a days the interface should do what the user needs with out any buttons. Yes, you heard me, no button!
Okay, so maybe you need some buttons, Facebook has it’s Like button, right? However, when using Twitter and Pintrest you no longer need to click to “view more” it automatically loads when we scroll down. No more expand/collapse sections, just let me quickly scroll down this long page of content. I’m using Evernote right now to type up a draft of this post, there is no save button, it automatically saves it to the cloud as I’m typing, sweet!
I’m sure there are all sorts of things are going on in the back end that I, as an end user, are not aware of, and I love that! I was even thinking there is no confirmation that my Evernote is saved, but I just now saw the little “synchronizing” message that popup in the lower left corner. Yes, the lower, LEFT corner. You know, that place where no one ever puts anything but do look there every now and then.
As a user, I don’t want to make any choices. I do that enough through out my day. I simply want to use a product that makes the right choices for me and lets me get on with my day.