User Interface Design in Information Technology refers to the design of the user interface for software or applications. It’s about programming the look of things, with a view to facilitating usability and the user experience.
In simple terms, a user interface is the features of a device or an application that allow a user to interact with it. Let’s say you are filling a company’s contact form on a website, your user interface, in this case, would consist of a text box, a drop-down list, a radio button and any other component which would allow you to enter your data into the company’s system.
The remote control of a TV can also be thought of as the user interface, as it provides a set of command which allow the user to interact with the TV.
WHY IS A GOOD USER INTERFACE IMPORTANT IN WEB DESIGN?
A good User Interface is important in the sense that it makes it easier for your target audience to clearly see what your products are. It is designed in a way to display the services that you offer without ambiguity, in order to draw your visitors’ attention and keep them on your site.
Simply put, a good User Interface is important because it can turn potential visitors to buyers as it facilitates interactions between the user and your website or web application.
When you scratch beneath the surface you realize that UI is quite an intricate field that involves anticipating the user preferences and then creating an interface that understands and fulfils those preferences. The UI not only focuses on the aesthetics but also maximizes responsiveness, efficiency, and accessibility of a website.
An interface is a point where a user interacts with the software they’re using. A good User Interface Design presents a seamless blend of visual design, interaction design, and information architecture:
- Visual Design
Visual design improves a site’s ornamental value by strategically implementing elements such as fonts, colours, and images among other things. When professionally done, visual design makes a page elegant without compromising on its function or content.
- Interactive design
The interactive design looks at how users interact with technology. It then uses the understanding of such interactions to create an interface with behaviours that are well thought-out. Excellent interactive design not only anticipates how a person interacts with a system but also antedates and fixes problems in good time. It may also invent new ways through which a system interacts and responds to users.
- Information Architecture
Information architecture is designed to help users find the info they need to complete various tasks. It, therefore, involves labelling, structuring, and organizing the web content in a manner that makes it easily accessible and sustainable.
Choosing Elements Of User Interface Design
Users expect an interface to work and behave in a particular way. When designing a UI, it’s recommended that the interface is designed to be predictable, concise and consistent. This improves its efficiency in completing tasks and ultimately reinforces user satisfaction. Multiple elements constitute a functional UI. These may include:
- Input controls such as buttons, toggles, and checkboxes among many others.
- Navigation components e.g. breadcrumb, sliders, search fields, icons etc.
- Information components for example tooltips, notifications, message boxes and progress bars among others.
- Call to Action elements.
- Containers including accordion.
When choosing what element to include in a User Interface Design, it’s always wise to consider your tradeoffs. An element may, for instance, save you some space but end up unnecessarily burdening the user and break the user experience.
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UI Design Best Practices
Designing the perfect user interface comes from knowing the users as well as understanding their tendencies, preferences, skills, and goals.
Remember the following practices of a good User Interface Design.
- Simple Interfaces are best- use a clear language and avoid inessential elements.
- Maintain Consistency by using common UI elements. Use elements that users are familiar with. This ensures things get done fast. It also guarantees user comfort and gratification.
- Use smart, purposeful page layouts. Try to draw attention to the most important aspects of the website.
- Colours and textures should be appropriately used to draw the attention of the user to a particular or given component.
- Use the typeface to increase readability and legibility of the content
- Use defaults to reduce the burden of the user where appropriate.
5 MISTAKES TO AVOID IN UI DESIGN
- Not implementing a user-centred design: This part is easy to ignore whereas it is one of the important aspects of UI Design. When designing, you should keep in mind the needs, preferences,
Problems of the users. Avoiding to do so might have a negative impact on your business and cause it to collapse.
- Not Learning more about the target audience: Again, this point illustrates more what we just talk about. Instead of designing with your own preferences and tastes, rather design as if you were the customer. Just think about what the customer would love, and if possible conduct a survey or interview some potential customers to truly understand what they need.
- Excessive use of dynamic effects: Using too much animations effect is not synonymous of a great design. So avoiding excessive decorative animations can help optimize the user experience.
- Not exploring further: the pressure of meeting the deadlines, and the heavy workload can make the designer avoid to explore other possibilities to get inspired and more creative before they elaborate on their design plan.
- Crafting too much beforehand. Especially in the early stage of design, we just want to have the right picture of the design in the minds and start work. However, this is conception is not always efficient. At times, exploring other sources can reveal us some surprising things.
In this article we briefly explained what a user interface is, we defined the term ‘user interface design’, and we highlighted the importance of a good user interface in the web development context. We also talked about the elements to include in the user interface, and finally listed some best practices to consider while designing a user interface.