Are you a web designer? If yes, then you are also a user interface designer, and in the near future, this role will become even more important for you.
While web pages today have simple user interfaces with no more than navigation and contact forms, the rise of new technologies and standards will create a demand for more dynamic and customized experiences.
User Interface Design is the design of websites, computers, appliances, machines, mobile communication devices, and software applications with the focus on the user’s experience and interaction. The goal of user interface design is to make the user’s interaction as simple and efficient as possible, in terms of accomplishing user goals—what is often called user-centered design. Interface design defines the following way:
Information architecture defines the structure of information.
Interaction design lets people manipulate and contribute to that information.
Visualdesign communicates these possibilities to people.
The user interface is the sum of all these things.
Interface conventions are a significant issue when creating a computer operating system (OS). One of the reasons for the success of the Apple Macintosh is that software developers use standardized interface elements. The OS feels more ‘friendly’-even when using a new program, because the interface is familiar.
Best Practices for Designing an Interface
Everything stems from knowing your users, including understanding their goals, skills, preferences, and tendencies. Once you know about your user, make sure to consider the following when designing your interface:
Keep the interface simple: The best interfaces are almost invisible to the user. They avoid unnecessary elements and are clear in the language they use on labels and in messaging.
Create consistency and use common UI elements: By using common elements in your UI, users feel more comfortable and are able to get things done more quickly. It is also important to create patterns in language, layout and design throughout the site to help facilitate efficiency. Once a user learns how to do something, they should be able to transfer that skill to other parts of the site.
Be purposeful in page layout: Consider the spatial relationships between items on the page and structure the page based on importance. Careful placement of items can help draw attention to the most important pieces of information and can aid scanning and readability.
Strategically use color and texture: You can direct attention toward or redirect attention away from items using color, light, contrast, and texture to your advantage.
Use typography to create hierarchy and clarity: Carefully consider how you use typeface. Different sizes, fonts, and arrangement of the text to help increase scan ability, legibility and readability.
Make sure that the system communicates what’s happening: Always inform your users of location, actions, changes in state, or errors. The use of various UI elements to communicate status and, if necessary, next steps can reduce frustration for your user.
Think about the defaults: By carefully thinking about and anticipating the goals people bring to your site; you can create defaults that reduce the burden on the user. This becomes particularly important when it comes to form design where you might have an opportunity to have some fields pre-chosen or filled out.