Dear Developer: Is your User Interface... functional?

I'm not going after any particular developer in this article (although I could) but... I want to talk about the UI in games.

Short for User Interface... its "the means by which the user and a computer system interact, in particular the use of input devices and software." - Oxford Dictionary

For the life of me, I don't understand why some User Interfaces are so... freaking... complicated. One thing that continues to hold true for me and many... many... many many many many many people that I know, is that we don't care for complicated UI.

It goes a bit further than this though, because many things can initially be or appear to be a complicated process... until you learn them. That said, complicated UI should always come with a full blown tutorial that keeps it so simple... a child can do it (or at least the least technically savvy person in the room).

Even if i'm able to play a certain game or use a certain program and find it easier to navigate the UI, it doesn't mean that applies to everyone and it should be important to all software developers (not just game devs) because the skill levels of your customers will always vary. This is just a fact.

It drives me nuts when I can't navigate a UI and there is nothing available to truly explain what does what.

The more complicate the UI is with little to no "Step by Step Instructions" to utilize each aspect of the interface... the more likely someone will walk away from that particular software and any other software you release on the market. Even if future software is simpler or provides full instruction... you don't always get a second chance.

There are software developers who even have the nerve to sell instruction guides for their software, instead of including a simple guide. I can see if its more advanced techniques and things of that nature, but... every owner of your software should know how to use it.

Think of the results that follow an easy-to-use interface:
  • Great software builds confidence in the customer.
  • A customer who enjoys your software will likely recommend it to others.
  • If the customer is able to utilize the software and get their full use of it, the chances of buying new software goes up (if they can afford it and find a use for the upgrade).

Just think about how crucial the UI is when it comes to utilizing the software. It can be the coolest software on earth, but if you can't use it... it's just a waste. Think about it.