A user interface is the final front-end screen which is available for interaction by the user. This is the final display a web developer has on offer, and it should ideally be as lucid and comfortable as possible, to maximize the user experience. No wonder, it is also sometimes called ‘user-centered design’. It basically depends on striking the balance between the technical and the visual aspects of the website. It should be flexible enough to allow any modifications or update in the future, and should do its job without any unnecessary frills and attention.

The process of interface design involves a series of phases, each having its own preference order depending on the end product requirement. It starts with the functionality requirements gathering assembles a list of functions required by the system and the user needs. Then we have the user analysis, where the potential users are evaluated in various parameters such as their usage of the website, its essentiality in their lifestyle, their expectations in terms of the visual styling of complexity, etc. The information architecture designs the process flow of the system and prototyping develops wireframes, either paper prototypes or interactive screens. The prototypes are the most basic look of the intended site and focus mainly on the layout of the system.

Finally the designer performs the graphical user interface (GUI) designing, based on the above data collected. For more than one skins, the single control panel can provide multiple user interface designs. ISO 9241 has laid down a standard framework, espousing the principles of the dialogue techniques with illustrative examples and high level definitions. These principles include concepts like suitability for the task, self descriptiveness, controllability (wherein the user is able to control the flow of processes in the website), conformity with expectations, error tolerance, suitability for individualization which allows modifications in the interface according to user needs and lastly, suitability for learning.

Interface design has undergone a lot of research and debate, particularly on fixing the standards for designs. The discussions have resulted in an IFIP user interface reference model, which includes four dimensions-input/output, dialogue, technical/functional and organizational dimension. Research has shown that a variety of programming for GUI can be made possible by ways other than writing the code.

Mark