Magazine article Mortgage Banking

User Interface Considerations

Magazine article Mortgage Banking

User Interface Considerations

Article excerpt

Graphical user interfaces (GUIs) have been around for as long as computers. When it all started, we had the ubiquitous character-based "green screen." Over the years, the GUI has changed and evolved to meet the increasing demands and needs of computer users.

This evolution can be sorted into eras, starting with the mainframe era where it all began--where calculation and computation happened server-side, and there was very little logic (in fact, no logic) that ran in the client.

This was followed by the personal computer (PC) era, where a lot of logic was added to the client (thus the term "fat client" was coined) and logic still ran server-side. Then came the Web era in the mid-1990s, where the majority of application logic moves back server-side and the client, which now includes graphics, is simplified again.

Finally, we find ourselves today in the smartphone/tablet era. Here again, as in the PC era, logic is being moved to the client--an iPad[R] or DROID[TM] phone, and server-side still has logic as well.

Not surprisingly in the field of mortgage technology, you will see all the marketing and advertising moving in the mobile-app direction. It could be thought of as a re-creation of the "brochure-ware" era at the birth of the World Wide Web. Back then, companies were in a rush to just have a presence on the Web--today the rush is to have a mobile presence instead of just a Web presence.

As before, most companies are happy if they have a minimal footprint, as long as it is mobile-capable. This as opposed to having everything in the mobile application or website from the start, which still can be very expensive to implement based on the subject-matter expertise needed and multiple competing technology stacks. You can always layer on additional complex functionality in later phases. Like the Web when it first came out can be thought of as a new communications medium with your trading partners and/or customers, so the sky is the limit in terms of where you can go with it.

One specific consideration in user interface design is simplicity of the interface versus control. To illustrate this concept further, let's look at two websites, both heavily used.

On one side, illustrating simplicity, there is Google[TM]. It is very simple. One search entry and that is the entire site. People love the simplicity. If I am searching for something, that is all I need. On the other side, illustrating control, there is Expedia[R]. It is incredibly complex, but gives the end user a lot of control in one page--you can set up air, hotel and car reservations, and all the intricacies without ever leaving the primary page. …

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