UI: rounded corners make everything better

October 19, 2009 at 12:10 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

One might get the impression from our intro courses that computer science is all about writing Java code, and while it’s certainly the case that some CSE students go on to become hardcore Java haxxorz, many end up solving interesting problems in other languages and many others don’t spend much time coding at all.

There are a lot of different facets that make up a great program, or product, and one of those facets is user experience design.  Different companies might have slightly different definitions for the people who work on user interfaces and the user experience, but they all do essentially the same thing – making sure a product is easy for people to use.

A lot goes into designing a successful user experience.  The engineer has to have a good grasp of both aesthetics and how users behave, which enables them to design something that a user finds visually intuitive.  A background in computer science is invaluable in determining what can actually be done using existing technology.  User experience designers also get to spend a lot of time with test participants, learning about how their designs are perceived, how users interact with them, and what can be done to improve the experience.  It’s a strange mixture of technology, art, and psychology, and it’s vital to a product’s success.

Wikipedia has a good summary of user interface design that’s especially useful for all of the links to related topics.  If human-centered engineering seems interesting to you, you should take a look.

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