10 User Interface Design Fundamentals
Designing websites isn’t just about creating something pretty in Photoshop. A user visits a website with a set of specific objectives in mind. So a lot of thought has to go into the user interface (UI) in order to help them achieve those objectives as easily and painlessly as possible.
We’ve already blogged about the power of “invisible design”, and then I came across a great blog post on the principles of UI design. It really breaks down the thinking that goes into designing and building a website. A summary is below, or you can read the entire article at Carsonified.com.
1. Know your user
If you understand your audience’s behaviours, goals, skills and experience you’ll be better equipped to design an interface that they’ll find easy to navigate and use.
2. Pay attention to patterns
Many users are familiar with certain interfaces, such as those on common computer applications. By mimicking familiar patterns, the user won’t need to learn to perform tasks on your site.
3. Stay consistent
It is important that users feel they have an understanding of how things will work. Therefore consistency needs to be maintained across language, layout and design.
4. Use a visual hierarchy
It is the designer’s job to simplify and arrange content logically. Use placement, size and colour to indicate what is most important.
5. Provide feedback
Visual cues and simple messages are very important. It should always be easy for the user to tell if they are using the website correctly.
6. Be forgiving
If somebody makes a mistake whilst using your website, it should be easy for them to correct it without having to start all over again. Therefore it’s important to design ways for users to undo their actions. Where appropriate, use messages to explain what went wrong so users don’t keep repeating the same mistakes.
7. Empower your user
Provide shortcuts for regular users so they don’t have to go through long processes when they already know what they want to achieve.
8. Speak their language
Keep copywriting conversational, not sensational. Use minimal labels and simple messaging so the users hear themselves instead of you.
9. Keep it simple
Remember it’s often harder to design simple interfaces than complex ones. Don’t try to be fancy, strive for simplicity. Always ask the question, “does the user really need this?”
10. Keep moving forward
Keep your user interface out of the way and when you make mistakes, keep going!
If you’re interested in understanding more about user experience and interaction design, here are some great resources:
• Elavision Insights – the blog of our very own interaction design guru, Joel Flom
• The UX Booth – User Experience Blog
• Functioning Form – Interface Design Blog
• Adaptive Path – the blog from a leading interaction design agency of the same name
Web Design Brisbane: Learn more about effective user interface design – call Bluewire Media on 1300 258 394.