Now, more than ever, everything is about the looks. Not just technology, everything.
There’s a big difference between entering an office where everybody’s desks have piles of papers scattered around, documents on the floor and the employees dressed as if they were camping in a summer festival and an office where everything is clean, tidy and people dressed in a more formal way – why? Because the second scenario transmits organization and professionalism while the first one immediately makes you question the quality of the employees and their work. It’s not a golden rule as I’m certain there are a few exceptions to this, but it is a pretty accurate behavior. Society is becoming more aware and giving more value to the visual component of things which translate in a few simple concepts: design, style and eye-candy.
The last concept is a fusion of the first two, and that’s where you want to focus when we’re talking about new software applications. As a software developer every time I am given a new project I automatically think of delivering something awesome, not just good as, the way I see it, good is just delivering what the client asked nothing more, nothing less. We should always try and provide something better than what the client initially wanted which doesn’t necessarily implies adding new features and spending more time working, sometimes adding very simple things can add a lot of value to a software application and make your client happy.
I consider graphical interfaces the most important aspect of an application. The GUI (Graphical User Interface) of an application is the bridge between the human and machine, therefor the better the GUI the better the user will be able to do his job. Surely, you don’t want the user spending 10 minutes finding a menu, a link or a button to a key feature of your application the same way you don’t want to type 10 different passwords to log in onto your computer. Also, you don’t really want the user to get headaches from using the application because of huge contrasts or bright colors (e.g.: white text on red background) and obviously don’t want the user to keep clicking on the wrong button because it’s too close to some other element of the window/screen that the user uses frequently.
Keep in mind that the level of interaction, functionality and information delivery is done through the GUI so not only you will want the user to be able to do his work but you also want him to feel comfortable doing it. Designing a GUI must also take into consideration the human psychology and translate it into logic to provide the maximum level of usability and satisfaction.
Moreover, a client decision can heavily depend on the visual component of a software application as that’s the very first thing a user evaluates as soon as they see it and, it has a direct impact on how receptive they will be at using it.
Consequently it will also make the difference between acceptance and rejection in the marketplace.