Full day training course

Application Design for Web and Desktop

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

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

Participant Comments

Participant Comments

"The instructor covered a lot of topics, the level of information is huge (coffee is available to keep you focused). It is great being able to approach such experts, discuss, share ideas and ask for opinions!"

Klervi Coccolini, LogicNew

"Great overview of application design best practices. I wanted to keep learning!"

Aaron Gillihan, Medimmune

"Excellent instructor. I really enjoyed the pace & delivery."

Deniz Koteen, The Home Depot

  • More Participant Comments
    "Great speaker with the right tempo. Open to new ideas and input. Lot of interation & interesting exercises."

    Harry van Mierloo, Fox-IT

    "Great course conducted by an engaging instructor. Excellent opportunity to learn and re-imagine existing knowledge."

    Paul Medland, Green 4 Solutions

    "I appreciated that Garrett stayed to cover all application design content with the class. He definitely covered technical design practices and solutions that sometimes go unnoticed or are seldom explained.  Kudos."

    Robert Turner, Booz Allen Hamilton

    "Excellent course that's perfect for those of us who may not work on the sexiest of applications, but we want them to work!"

    Lynne Venart, The Art Monkey

    "Excellent! Being in government, I was especially interested in the speaker's previous work with TurboTax forms and data collection tricky. Thanks!"

    Hayley Moore

    "Garrett is comfortable controlling his syllabus. Really fun that he'll explore questions and change things up. Garrett provides some excellent real-world experiences to illustrate critical thinking exercises and the importance of driving design decisions through a process that results in research driven, justifiable actions. He thinks through questions aloud and shows us how to really apply our knowledge as specialists to a business problem with professionalism and authority."

    Michelle Larsen, AQUAS, Inc.



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.

Kara Pernice

Kara Pernice (@KaraAnn) is Senior Vice President at Nielsen Norman Group. Pernice uniquely combines her 20-plus years of business, research, and design knowledge and experience to help organizations increase their UX maturity and derive interfaces which are usable, useful, and surpass business goals. Pernice is accomplished at evaluating and managing design situations, and crafting with a team the most fitting design and research methods, and converting this analysis into outstanding design. Pernice has led teams running hundreds of intercontinental research studies, and is expert in many usability methods. Read more about Kara.

Page Laubheimer

Page Laubheimer is a User Experience Specialist with Nielsen Norman Group. He helps organizations focus on delivering outstanding user experience in order to achieve their strategic goals. He combines his expertise in website usability with experience managing a team of designers and developers to successfully implement UX best practices across a range of platforms. Read more about Page.

Raluca Budiu

Raluca Budiu is a Director of Research with Nielsen Norman Group. At NN/g she consults for clients from a variety of industries and presents tutorials on mobile and tablet usability, cognitive psychology for designers, and principles of human computer interaction. She coauthored the NN/g reports on tablet usability, mobile usability, iPad usability, and the usability of children's websites, and the book "Mobile Usability". Raluca also served as a judge for GSMA Global Mobile Awards 2012-2016 and Tabby Awards 2013. She holds a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University. Read more about Raluca.