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7 Handy UI (User Interface) Design Tips To Remember

August 29, 2020 |
UI Design, UX Design
User Interface Design

Creating beautiful, usable, and efficient UIs takes time, with many design revisions along the way. User interface design, which focuses on the layout of the functionality of interfaces, is a subset of user experience design, which focuses on the bigger picture: that is, the whole experience, not just the interface. In this article, we have collated a list of UI design tips that will help you create amazing user experiences and interfaces.

1. Understand Your Users Completely

You need to know your users inside and out. That includes demographic information, but more importantly, it means knowing what they need, and what stands in the way of them achieving their goals. Getting to that level of empathy requires more than a careful analysis of stats. It requires getting to know the people who use your website. It means speaking with them face to face, watching them use your product, and asking them questions.

Don’t stop at knowing what your users want. Dig deeper and find out what they need. After all, desires are just outgrowths of needs. If you can address a user’s deep-seated need, you’ll address their wants while also fulfilling more fundamental requirements. The insights you’ll uncover from analyzing data and speaking with users will inform every decision you make, from how people use your interface to what types of content you’ll highlight within that interface.

2. Clearly Define How People Will Use Your Interface

Before you design your user interface design, you need to define how people will use it. With the increasing prevalence of touch-based devices, it’s a bigger concern than you might think. People use websites and apps in two ways:

  1. Directly – by interacting with the user interface design elements of the product
  2. Indirectly – by interacting with user interface design elements external to the product

Examples of direct interactions are – tapping a button, swiping a card, dragging and dropping an item with a fingertip, etc. Examples of indirect interactions are – pointing and clicking with a mouse, using key commands or shortcuts, typing into a form field, drawing on a tablet, etc. Who your users are and what devices they use should deeply inform your decisions here. If you’re designing for seniors or others with limited manual dexterity, you wouldn’t want to lean on swiping. If you’re designing for writers or coders, who primarily interact with apps via the keyboard, you’ll want to support all the common keyboard shortcuts to minimize time working with the mouse.

3. Expect Users To Make Errors

People make mistakes, but they shouldn’t (always) have to suffer the consequences. There are two ways to help lessen the impact of human error: Either prevent mistakes before they happen or provide ways to fix them after they happen. You see a lot of mistake-prevention techniques in eCommerce and form design. Buttons remain inactive until you fill out all fields. Forms detect that an email address hasn’t been entered properly. Pop-ups ask you if you really want to abandon your shopping cart. Anticipating mistakes is often less frustrating than trying to fix them after the fact. 

When you’re writing error messages, make sure you explain the problem and explain how to fix it. The principle of anticipating user error is called the poka-yoke principle. Poka-yoke is a Japanese term that translates to “mistake-proofing.”

4. Place Your Elements Carefully And In An Appropriate Size

Fitts’ Law, a fundamental principle of human-computer interaction (HCI), states that: the time to acquire a target is a function of the distance to and size of the target. In simple words, the closer and/or bigger something is, the faster you can put your cursor (or finger) on it. This obviously has all kinds of implications for interaction and user interface design techniques. 

Make buttons and other “click targets” (like icons and text links) big enough to see and click easily. This is especially important with typography, menus, and other link lists, as insufficient space will leave people clicking the wrong links again and again.

Place navigation (and other common interactive visual elements, like search bars) on the edges or corners of the screen. This last might seem counterintuitive, but it works because it lessens the need for accuracy: a user doesn’t need to worry about overshooting their click target.

While you’re thinking about element placing and size, always keep your interaction model in mind. If your site requires horizontal scrolling rather than vertical scrolling, you’ll need to consider where and how to cue users to this unusual interaction type.

5. Follow The Standards

Don’t ignore industry standards in a quest to stand out from the crowd. Being highly creative types, designers tend to love to reinvent things—but it’s not always the best idea. Because a revamped version of a familiar interaction or interface adds “cognitive load”: it makes people think again about a process they’ve already learned. Obviously, you can reinvent the wheel all you want—but only if it actually improves the design.

6. Create Easy To Learn Interfaces

According to a published article, based on research, people can only hold 5 to 9 things in their short term memory with any reliability. It’s only logical that the simpler something is, the easier it is to remember in the short term. So, whenever possible, limit the number of things a person needs to remember to use your interface efficiently and effectively. You can facilitate this by chunking information, i.e., breaking it into small, digestible chunks. 

You’ll often see this on websites’ home pages, where short chunks of copy introduce a product or feature, then link off to a page where users can learn more. That’s called progressive disclosure. Avoid using “learn more” and similarly non-specific text in links and buttons because it doesn’t tell users what they’ll “learn more” about. Often, people simply scan a page looking for a link that takes them where they want to go, and “learn more,” repeated 15 times, doesn’t help. 

7. Simplify Decision Making

The simpler we make our designs, the faster and easier it is for users to make the decisions we want them to make. That’s exactly why landing pages and non-newsletter emails should only have one call to action. Sometimes, you actually do want users to slow down and consider their options. That’s why the tiled designs of Pinterest, Dribbble, and many blogs actually work well. After all, the more options you have to decide between, the more likely it is you’ll find one that works for you.
Hopefully, these tips help you with your next design project. Want to discuss more? Talk to our design experts.

Read more about the basic difference between UI and UX here

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