The Importance of User Interface (UI) Design

User Interface (UI) Design focuses on anticipating what users might need to do and ensuring that the interface has elements that are easy to access, understand, and use to facilitate those actions. 

 

Good user interface can be the difference between a widely successful app or website and it’s failure to make any impact. Even if you have the best product in the world, if a user finds your UI confusing, hard to navigate, or too busy, your UI will not be successful.

 

A great user interface design will have the perfect marriage of visual and interactivity coupled with the ease of use and simplistic navigation. Some common interface elements that will help with a user’s task completion, efficiency, and satisfaction include: Input Controls (buttons, text fields, checkboxes, radio buttons, dropdown lists, list boxes, toggles, date field), Navigational (breadcrumb, slider, search field, pagination, slider, tags, icons), Informational (tooltips, icons, progress bar, notifications, message boxes, modal windows) and Containers.

 

Everything stems from knowing your users, including understanding their goals, skills, preferences, and tendencies.  Once you know about your user, make sure to consider the following tips from usability.gov when designing your interface:

 

  • Keep the interface simple. The best interfaces are almost invisible to the user. They avoid unnecessary elements and are clear in the language they use on labels and in messaging.
  • Create consistency and use common UI elements.  Users feel more comfortable and are able to get things done more quickly and efficiently with the use of common UI elements. 
  • Be purposeful in page layout.  Consider the spatial relationships between items on the page and structure the page based on importance. Careful placement of items can help draw attention to the most important pieces of information and can aid scanning and readability.
  • Strategically use color and texture. You can direct attention toward or redirect attention away from items using color, light, contrast, and texture to your advantage.
  • Use typography to create hierarchy and clarity. Carefully consider how you use typeface. Different sizes, fonts, and arrangement of the text to help increase scanability, legibility and readability.
  • Make sure that the system communicates what’s happening.  Always inform your users of location, actions, changes in state, or errors. The use of various UI elements to communicate status and, if necessary, next steps can reduce frustration for your user. 
  • Think about the defaults. By carefully thinking about and anticipating the goals people bring to your site, you can create defaults that reduce the burden on the user.  This becomes particularly important when it comes to form design where you might have an opportunity to have some fields pre-chosen or filled out.

App users and Internet surfers have become familiar with interface elements acting in a certain way. Don’t try to be innovative with simple elements that expected to function a certain way.

 

Interested in learning more about User Interface (UI) Design? Check out some of the User Interface courses offered by 1337 Institute: