The receipt for a good user interface is a lot of skill, patience and time. It also requires you to do some research and identify your target audience as best as you can. Once you know exactly who you’re building the interface for and what it will help them accomplish, you will also have to integrate your own goals as well.
Building the right user interface can be a really tricky business and it requires frequent testing to ensure that you’re on the right track for accomplishing what you have set out to do. There are many principles that can guide you in the right direction and help you optimize an interface. Following design patterns that were laid out by professionals are pretty sure to make a successful user interface design.
If you also consider the main aspects of a successful user interface design, you’ll be able to build yourself a well-rounded idea and follow in the steps of your predecessors. You can also build something new and paradigm breaking but always be sure that it doesn’t spoil the functionality one bit. Users tend to attract more towards something that they already have some previous knowledge of.
We already covered many characteristics of successful user interface designs and also shared some info on how you can know your users a lot better.
Also Read: Web Design Trends for 2017
In this article, we’ll continue our series about UI’s and give you a list of tips that are sure to help you build a better UI if you let them. These tips also consider a lot of previous knowledge and experience and the way users behave on the web.
Without further ado, let’s get down to the tips!
1. Keep Your User in Mind
Constantly keep your users and their needs in perspective. Think about only that and reverse engineer from the ideas you get from it. Act like you don’t have any previous knowledge of the task in front of you. Understanding your users and the experience you want to provide them with is critical as everything else depends on it.
The best way to go about it is communicate with your clients. Do an interview, talk to them face to face if it’s possible. Understand what he or she wants to accomplish and what kind of features they would enjoy or dislike. Take some notes during the conversation and use active listening techniques.
A major factor of users’ needs is their competence in using software. If you give them what they need to get the job done, but they don’t know how to use the interface, you didn’t accomplish anything. Any frustration or discomfort will destroy the enjoyment.
2. Clarity is Your Responsibility
It’s your job to make sure that the user knows what the software in front of them will help them do. Clarity is the most important aspect of any user interface. Understand what your interface is going to help them interact with. Predict what would happen when they successfully use it. Clarity makes your users confident and motivates them for further use.
3. Use a Strong Visual Hierarchy
The most important elements in an interface should always be highlighted to draw users’ attention. Design provides an almost endless array of possibilities to achieve this effect.
The simplest way to do this might be changing the color of an element or making one bigger than the other. You can make some parts of your interface, like highlighted recommendations impossible to ignore. You can also use white spaces to highlight critical parts in your interface.
A strong visual hierarchy is important to the look and feel of any interface. A well implemented visual hierarchy can also clarify a lot and make it easier to use.
4. Highlight Any Changes
If a certain change happens during the course of use, it’s useful to highlight that change. For example, if your UI takes a feed of information from other sources, it works well to highlight any of the new content.
It’s also good to use icons and notifications to indicate new content, but be sure that they don’t interfere with the readability and view ability of the content.
5. Apply Keyboard Shortcuts
Not everyone out there is a power user who flies through his keyboard, but there are many people who prefer to use shortcuts. It would be a disaster if someone would like to use some but didn’t have the possibility. It can be incredibly satisfying to get tasks done more quickly with the right button combination.
Think of common combinations and functions like Ctrl+C for copying or Ctrl+Z for undo. Think about the most repetitive functions that people would use and aim for those. Make sure you set up keys logically and that you include them next to their respective action in drop-down menus.
6. Have Personalization Options
Many web apps give their users the ability to customize their interface. Some websites let you change the color scheme or upload your own graphics. Others offer themes or let you rearrange the layout of what is shown when you log in. Some even let their users create various custom pages that have content and information they’re concerned with.
Take a throughout look at your interface and consider what kind of customization options would improve the user experience. Customization might not work out that well for some apps but for others it can have a drastic impact on the quality of experience.
Users like to have control of what they experience. Letting them choose themes or tweak the interface to their liking will let them take ownership. The more invested they become in your design the more frequently they’ll come to use your application or website.
7. Shade Everything Else Behind a Modal Window
When you’re opening a modal window, you’re only concerned with a specific function. That’s why, it works well to shade out everything else in the background, and you’ll eliminate any distraction. It will also make it stand out and look much better.
8. Ensure An Efficient Workflow
When it comes to designing an interface, always aim to make its use as efficient for your users as possible; this will ensure their gratitude. They are already used to certain types of software and apps, so following those patterns in your interface will benefit its functionality. Take a number of users and study their workflow. See what might be getting in the way for them to efficiently complete tasks.
Also Read: Useful Web Design and Development Tools
9. Keep It Simple
The most successful interfaces are as simple as they can possibly be. As we mentioned, keeping things clear is of key importance. Don’t add any sprinkles and fireworks to you interface just for the sake of making it look better. If a function doesn’t have a clear, specific purpose, than it has no place in your design.
The same principle applies to the rest of your design elements. If an element has a specific purpose, then add it. Always aim for the simplest solution that will get the job done.
You don’t have to make your app minimalistic, make it look good, but keep in mind that people use applications for their functionality.
10. Make Things Familiar for Your User
When you’re designing a UI, it’s not the time to reinvent a technology or create something paradigm breaking. The truth is that users have already spent half of their life using an interface that wasn’t designed by you. So keeping your design similar to those that they already know will help them ease into your app much faster. Use similar elements than other frequently used apps have.
Create your menus and buttons, so that they will behave in a predictable manner, just as they would in similar applications. Humans like to see what they’re expecting to see, so give them what they want!
11. Have One Primary Action Per Screen
Each screen we create should support one valuable action for the individual who is using it. It will be much easier to use, learn and or add to if necessary. Every screen should support a single action.
12. Smart Organization Cuts Down on Thinking
If you organize screen elements in an intelligent manner, you can manage to make many look like a few. It will also make users understand the interface faster and easier. Illustrate the inherent relationships of content and group together similar elements. Show natural relationships with organization and placement.
13. Apply Tooltips and Help Messages
The main goal of a UI is to communicate. A lot of developers create an extensive documentation for their apps, which can be really helpful for users. But these are in most cases stored in a separate file or on a website, which means the user will have to close the app and go about reading it separately.
While it is a good idea to have a separate documentation, having tooltips and some integrated help messages in your windows or slide bar will increase the app’s usability for many users. They can learn about specific functions on the go. It’s an easy way of giving help to someone who is using your application, which saves them a lot of effort and makes using the app much more enjoyable overall.
This concludes our tips on how you can make a UI that suit users much better. If you follow these tips, you’re following in the steps of your predecessors. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel in order to produce an efficient technology that is easy to use for people.
This article is among the number of articles we have published about creating efficient user interfaces and we’ll be coming up with more. We’ll cover some more tips and some of the most efficient user interfaces out there, so stay tuned!
I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading through this article and you’ve found the information useful!