Full day training course offered at Usability Week San Francisco

Application Design for Web and Desktop

Principles of application design, with an analysis of GUI screen components, workflows and varying types of users

Course Date: October 09, 2014

Graphical user interfaces (GUI) have a rich vocabulary with screen components for many different situations. Effective design and implementation of these screen components have profound, positive implications on the overall user experience; while unusable design can have adverse effects on your users and customers.

In this seminar, we’ll explore the behavior of application screen components, including both standard behaviors that users expect and unique interface components designed for specific interactions.  In addition, we’ll explore key workflow concepts and design considerations for different task types, as well as guidelines for specific application types. We’ll also cover how to integrate user-centered design into an application development process for the inclusion of various user types.

"This course ties together all of the principles learned throughout the rest of Usability Week and applies them directly to application design. What I learned today will be a fantastic resource for my ongoing application work!"

Meredith Englund

Please note: This course does not cover mobile apps. If you’re designing for mobile devices such as the iPhone, Android, or iPad, consider our Mobile User Experience course.

Topics Covered

Topics Covered

  • Targeted application design
    • Knowing your business and customer needs
    • Going from task analysis to design
    • User scenarios informing app design
    • Observing people to inform application design
    • Why first time use matters
    • From user data to design:  conducting user research to avoid costly design mistakes
    • Future planning - focus on what can be done today and what should wait for the future
    • Common application design mistakes and how to avoid them
  • Web and desktop applications
    • Cloud applications, positive and negative UX-related aspects
    • Privacy data and security concerns
    • Social applications, collaboration, and sharing
    • Application architecture
  • Big application usability concepts
    • Designs to meet how yours users think
    • Methods for choosing and integrating the right workflows into your applications
    • Workflow patterns (Control vs. Being Led)
    • Defining designs for ease of use versus ease of learning
    • Workflow structures patterns defined for re-use
    • Inductive user interfaces and linear processes to guide people through steps
    • Logical progression of data in your designs
    • Progressive disclosure as a technique to reduce information overload
    • Transmedia considerations: Integrating a website and an associated application
    • Catering to different user types in the same User Interface (UI)
      • Novice and advanced users
      • Committed and non-committed users
    • Modes and views (editing and looking at content in different ways)
    • Making features discoverable and easy to find
    • “Feature Creep” and its ramifications
  • Page level usability and design of application elements
    • Psychological perception of layout
    • Design patterns: menus, ribbons, lists, etc.
    • Combining elements in a User Interface to convey meaning
    • Data selection options and controls that minimize errors and reduce workload
    • Flat button design and conventional controls
    • Presenting items according to chronology
      • Displaying progression elements
    • Layout and priority to control space, emphasize hierarchy, and match workflows
    • Consistency issues in design
  • Application support, recovery and assistance
    • Communicating errors, notifications and help in meaningful ways to reduce site abandonment
  • Addressing accessibility concerns



The basis of the course is a lecture format with a couple of group exercises to reinforce the learned principles and guidelines.

The course also includes:

  • Findings from our own usability studies
  • Videos from usability testing showing people's behavior in response to a design
  • Screenshots of designs that work and don’t work, and why
  • Opportunities to ask questions and get answers



Garrett Goldfield

Garrett Goldfield is a User Experience Specialist at Nielsen Norman Group with 20 years of practical experience. At Nielsen Norman Group, Goldfield has consulted for clients in a broad range of industries, including e-commerce, automotive, health care, financial, media, telecommunications, education, art and non-profits, as well as highly specialized B2B sites. Read more about Garrett