I'm in Sweden this week on business, so I took the opportunity to re-sign up with Plazes. The new version (still beta :-) is pretty sweet. A very nice clean, UI that is extremely easy to use and that doesn't rely on obscure knowledge in order to allow the user to kick butt. This is a highlight of a good interface. Some of the key points:
-Plain, conversational English. This adds the fun factor and makes it seem like the website is an old friend. This is important for building passionate users. You may not think this could work in your stuffy business environment, but you'd be pleasantly surprised with the reaction from your users when you start to move away from business and techno speech.
-Good use of white space. Notice that the page is not crammed full of graphics, gadgets or gizmos. This allows the user to focus on the task at hand. Their locus of attention is pretty much guaranteed not to stray.
-Functionality is easy to understand. This may seem obvious, but how many sites do you know that miss this point? On Plazes, the major functions are always a click away. I especially like the contextually aware links that are displayed. Basically, the Plazes site determines what you are doing and presents some links that are related to this.
-Functionality is limited. This is a good thing! The Plazes team has picked one thing to focus on and they really do it up. Rather than overburden the user with options and features that probably won't be used, they have a limited number of functions that work exceedingly well.
The new flash "badge" that Ed talked about awhile back is slick as well. I finally got around to doing some updates on my blog design and you can see my badge on the side.
Anyway...even if you don't use Plazes, it's worth looking at to get an idea of a nice web UI. If you want to create a Plazes account, drop me a line or leave a comment and I'll send you an invite (to build up those karma points! :-D