User Interface Design - The Fundamental Principles

User Interface Design - The Fundamental Principles

A good user interface design is essential to ensure that you have an application that is easy to use, as well as one that can combine the needs of all your stakeholders. Starting a user interface design from scratch can be daunting for some designers, but there are some principles that even novices can follow.

Navigation in User Interface Design

Navigation can be found either at the top or the side of your UI. This is how your users will get to the rest of your site, so think about what elements they will want to find. A useful test can be card sorting. This is where users group different labels into categories in a way that is logical for them. When you plan your site navigation, think about what format would be right for your users. A toolbar or a search input field can be useful if you have many pages of information on your site. For ecommerce sites, accordion navigation can also be a useful way for users to preview parts of different pages.

User Interface Compatibility

In today's environment, designers have to struggle with adapting their designs to suite a range of devices. If you are creating a sign-up page for a mobile device user, consider that you might only have space for a couple of login fields and a description. Often this will suffice. On the other hand if a user is on a desktop computer, they will be able to cope with flash, sound and video. However remember that in some cases these can be distracting. Simplicity is often a better option, which means starting with mobile user interface designs and then switching to desktop designs can be much easier. That way you are always creating content for your user interface design rather than wasting time taking things out.

Stick to UI Conventions

We often hear this from UX experts, but it's true. Always think about the user's expectations. There will be some cases where you will want to shock and surprise your user, but on the whole the more intuitive you can make your user interface design, the less distracted your user will be. If they can carry out the action they want as smoothly as possible, you will have achieved one of your goals. For inspiration, pick out some websites or software applications that you like and see what elements they have in common. Often the most simple website designs can be the most effective.

Involve your Stakeholders

Getting users involved as early on as possible is a must in user interface design. By carrying out interviews with your users and running usability tests, you will quickly be able to realize what flaws in your design are affecting your users. However, your users are not the only stakeholders that matter. Make sure you are in communication with your marketing, developer and content-writing teams to ensure that you have met the requirements expected of you. At times you will have to make compromises, but back this up with documentation and detailed explanations. By having everyone on board, you will be able to create a successful user interface design with fewer iterations.

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