A brief introduction to User Interface Design [UI]
UI Design

A brief introduction to User Interface Design [UI]

4 minutes read

Habil Emmanuail Sep 18 2019

What is UI Design?

Imagine you’re in a showroom with the intention to buy a car. What is the first thing that you will see in the vehicle that will help you make the choice? Will it be its mileage, or its engine? No. The first thing that would draw you towards a car is its appearance. You’ll probably be noticing how sleek or shiny its exterior is or how bright is its color.

The first thing that attracts humans towards anything, be it a materialistic object or another human, is its look. We tend to see an object first before knowing its behavior, and thus are appealed towards it without identifying its real ability.

Similarly, the success of a website or a desktop/mobile application can be mostly predicted just by examining its user interface design.

Alex Fedorov, Co-Founder and Director of User Experience, defines User Interface Design as,

“User Interface Design is the process of crafting a visual language and hierarchy that allows someone to use and engage with an application.”

User interface design, or UI design, can be described as the interface design of a software application that consists of its appearance and style. Good designers try their best to make designs that the users find attractive and comprehensible. They use colors and the arrangement of the application’s elements in such a way that the user is able to solve his problem efficiently, while being left delighted by the product’s visuals. Knowing the likes and dislikes of the targeted audience, as well as their needs, is the key point in achieving this goal.

Difference between UI and UX:

While User Interface and User Experience are often confused as the same thing, they both are completely different terms. Yet, both are equally important for the final design of a product.

UX design can be defined as the overall user experience when using an application while the UI design is just related to its external graphical design.

Guidelines to follow:

In order to create an impressive interface, one has to remember the following points:

  • Keep it simple and clear:

Complex designs or too many elements can overwhelm the user, resulting in confusion about how the interact with the design. Use minimum number of controls, keep the design clear and the language easily understandable. Also, apply such font styles, sizes and alignment that make the content easily readable.

  • Use commonly used elements:

Using frequently used UI design patterns, or elements that have been used in the previously available applications, such as pinching to zoom in, or swiping to navigate between pages, can help the user interact with the respective application more effortlessly.

  • Focus on the layout:

While designing the interface, one of the major point of concern is where the user’s sight falls at first, and what kind of style is easy to their eyes. It is important to keep this in mind when designing the hierarchy and alignment of the product’s components and content.

  • Utilize the power of colors:

The design of a product sometimes completely relies on its colors. The contrast among the color pallet being used plays a key factor in the success of a design. One should also keep the brightness of the color scheme in check.

  • Stay consistent:

Make sure that the theme of the colors, images, icons, and text etc. should match each other. Trying to mix different styles and templates in one single product can often lead to the creation of a terrible, undistinguishable mess.

  • Provide help:

If a new functionality or element has to be added in the application that is not well known among the users, one should always choose to add tooltips or help options to assist them.

  • Minimize user effort:

The lesser the number of actions from the users are needed in order to complete a task, the more comfortable they will be with the usage the product. Try to decrease the number of buttons or links needed to navigate to a particular place or event. One could also use pre-fill forms to ease down the user’s work.

  • Know the user:

The most important thing that a designer should never overlook is the knowledge about his targeted audience. This alone influences the whole design more than any other factor mentioned, as the needs are always different for different kinds of users. For example, while teenagers are inclined towards bright colors and playful themes, adults prefer designs that are easier to work with, and contain more somber colors.

  • Be open to responses:

Always offer the users a way to provide feedback about the product, as well as make a complaint regarding any of its function.

Conclusion:

User Interface design is the “skin” of an application. The main purpose of this design is to attract the user to the product in such a way that not only he is forced to spend more time on the application, he is compelled to come back to use it again. Hence, the design has to be eye-catching to the audience, along with being easy to use and user friendly.

Habil Emmanuail

Habil Emmanuail

Habil is an IBM certified Design Thinking practitioner and a member of the Interaction Design Foundation. He has been working as a UX consultant and User Centered designer across web and mobile applications for almost four years. His area of expertise include UI/UX Design, UX Research, Visual UI Design, Prototyping, Information Architecture, Agile Scrum, Branding as well as HTML/CSS, UX Writing, Research and Analytics and Strategy and Planning.