A successful website or app must have user interface design at its core. To do this, developers and designers must put themselves into the minds of the people they are designing for. The following are some user design tips every designer should know.
1. Be Familiar with Your Audience
You cannot design something to meet the needs of your audience if you do not understand what those needs are. This means that user research and user interface design go hand-in-hand. Designers should have their users in the forefront of their mind before they design. This will allow them to offer value to people who use their product and put the focus on the benefits of the product for the end-user as opposed to creating flashy features.
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2. Learn to Remove Self Bias
A trap that designers fall into is thinking that just because they enjoy the way their app or website works, their users will have the same feeling. Designers are too close to what they are working on. And their intimate knowledge of how what they are designing functions creates blind spots to potential usability issues.
The key to avoiding false consciousness is for designers to remember that they are not the user. Users will have a unique perspective, background, education, and goal. Usability testing is key in getting an accurate understanding of what users demand from the products they are purchasing.
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Designers must realize that their friends and family are not necessarily users. Friends and family are bias and may provide skewed feedback. Properly user testing a website or app is time consuming, but it is the only way that designers are going to know that they are moving in the right direction.
3. Consistency Is Key to Success
Good UI design tackles the problem of consistency head-on. Consistency includes things like where you put menus and buttons, the colors you use, the fonts you use, and the icons you use.
A good digital solution does not throw a curve ball at users while they are trying out the product. Instead, it presents a unified style and maintains consistency throughout.
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This consistency is seen when users take a particular action. When they click a button, they should receive similar feedback. When they click on a menu, they should receive a consistent confirmation of the action. It could be an animation, a change of color, a progress bar, a pop-up window, etc.
4. Anticipate Mistakes
Users will make mistakes. Good user interface design saves the user from suffering from said mistakes. There are two ways this can be done:
- Prevent mistakes from happening.
- Provide an intuitive fix for mistakes when they happen.
You see these techniques in e-commerce. For example, certain buttons are deactivated until the user fills out all the appropriate fields. You also see forms that auto-detect formatting of email addresses, phone numbers, and addresses. When navigating away from certain pages, like the checkout cart, users are asked if they really want to abandon their shopping.
It’s easier to anticipate mistakes than it is to fix them after they have been committed. However, there are some circumstances where good user interface design means allowing the accident to happen and then providing an error message to help the user fix the mistake.
A good error message has two purposes:
- Outline the problem. E.g. “The ZIP Code entered does not match the state entered.”
- Explain how to fix the problem. E.g. “Please enter the correct ZIP Code.”
The idea is to be intuitive and subtle. When discussing UI design, experts from Adobe XD mention that, “When it’s done well, users don’t even notice it. When it’s done poorly, users can’t get past it to efficiently use a product.“
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5. Give Feedback Quickly
In actual world situations, people get quick feedback from their actions. When we talk, other people respond. When we touch something hot or cold, we get a sensory response.
Poor user interface does not give much back. It can leave users wondering if they need to take an additional action, if they should wait for the website to take action, or if their laptop is broken or needs to be reset.
Simple feedback includes things like a loading animation or a button that responds when it’s tapped. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It just needs to acknowledge that a user needs to take action or that a user needs to wait.
User interface design is constantly developing as user interaction with technology changes. By keeping up-to-date with these changes, a designer can improve the chances that users will enjoy using their product.