When creating a web app, especially one that’s full of features, it’s often extremely difficult to create an interface where it’s immediately obvious (for someone who has yet to use the app) what everything does. Designing an interface that’s elegant, useful and simple is significantly harder than it looks – which is why we’ve chosen to showcase web apps that do an outstanding job of being easy to use, despite being (in many cases) extremely high performance.
Hopefully they’ll inspire you for your next web app design.
The New York Times Skimmer web app displays the latest news in an easy to browse format, optimised mainly for touch-screen tablets. Content is dynamically resized to perfectly suit the window or screen size, and the entire reading experience revolves around ease of reading.
TeuxDeux is a brilliant, minimalist task management app which looks great and aims to have an interface that’s simple, elegant and uncluttered. Unlike many task management apps that aim to have a whole range of features, TeuxDeux keeps things simple and user-friendly.
Grooveshark, the Pandora-like streaming music app, has to be used to be believed. It’s interface makes finding a track painless, and it’s so quick and responsive that it’s hard to believe that it’s streaming the music from it’s servers, instead of just playing music that’s on your computer.
Flow is a task management app that’s the polar opposite of TeuxDeux. It’s packed with features and is designed to let you collaborate easily with a team. The user interface, however, has been designed to be elegant, easy and intuitive. The app has been cleverly put together in a way that lets you work efficiently without having to spend hours learning how to use it.
Codecademy tries to make something that’s extremely complicated into something easy and accessible to all. By teaching you how to code directly in the browser, you can learn how to develop things straight away – you can learn by doing. It’s interface is beautifully designed – everything about it has been developed in a way that makes it fun, easy and simple.
Mint is a personal finance app that lets you track how much you spend and save. While it gives you a lot of data to look through, it never makes you feel overwhelemed – which is a testament to the clever and simplified user interface that you’re presented with. Instead of all the data in an unfriendly format, different bits of data are spread out throughout the app, and your information is presented visually with graphs and charts in a way that’s understandable and uncomplicated.
MailChimp allows businesses to email out newsletters and marketing emails to large groups of subscribers, and the interface is easy to navigate, intuitive and designed with an equal mix of beauty and personality. While the app packs in a ton of features, it doesn’t overcomplicate the interface and is perfect for power users.
And in a stark contrast to MailChimp, in terms of number of features, is TinyLetter (which has, coincidentally, just been acquired by MailChimp). TinyLetter allows anyone to publish their own email newsletter and allow others to subscribe, all for free. There aren’t many features – the app just focuses on one thing and does it really well – which allows it to have an easy to use and beautifully simple interface.
Daytum is an app that allows you to record anything you want – the types of food you’ve eaten, the number of miles you’ve run, how much money you’ve spent each week – literally anything you want. Once you’ve put some data in, Daytum presents you with your data in the form of beautiful graphs and charts to help you visualise your information. For an app that’s so broad and can accept any kind of data at all, it’s impressive that they’ve been able to keep it so simple and easy to use – and this is largely the result of the effort they’ve clearly put in to making their UI intuitive and uncluttered.
The interface for Basecamp has changed constantly as time has gone on, but not all of the changes have been immediately noticeable. Basecamp has had lots of small improvements made to it over time, so despite being packed with features, the system is lightweight, friendly and very easy to use. The result of all of their hard work is an app that helps you to get work done without getting in the way, all thanks to it’s user-friendly interface.