User Interface Design – starting point
The starting point of choosing User Interface Design elements
User interface is a key component of any mobile or web application. Not only it determines how a user is going to interact with the application but also whether it is functionally effective or not. The User Interface or UI Design philosophy takes into consideration the needs of the users for which an application is being made and sees that whether those requirements are being met or not. The user interface of a program or application should be easy to access and easy to understand. The users should also be able to make use of such basic information and implement them into action. The discipline of UI brings together a number of different concepts such as visual design, interaction design as well as information architecture.
The importance of implementing familiar interface elements
When it comes to the same types of applications, users are more or less familiar with the various interface elements that are used in them and how they operate. Hence it is advisable for you to keep all the interface elements predictable and consistent when you are designing the UI of a particular type of application. By choosing a similar layout, you are actually helping your target users to complete tasks with accuracy and efficiency. It also reduces the time taken to complete associated tasks and brings greater level of satisfaction.
Common interface elements
Here are some of the most common types of interface elements used in different applications. This list is only meant as an example and is certainly not all inclusive.
- Input Controls: checkboxes, buttons, radio buttons, text fields, list boxes, dropdown lists, date field, toggles
- Informational Components: icons, notifications, progress bar, tooltips, modal windows, message boxes
- Navigational Components: slider, breadcrumb, pagination, search field, icons, tags
There can be times when more than a single element can be deemed appropriate for presenting the content. In such cases it is necessary to take the tradeoffs into consideration. For instance, while some elements can help in saving space, they can also make it difficult for the user to understand what they might expect from the element.
Designing an Interface: Best practices
The basis of designing the interface for an application starts from understanding your users, their needs, goals, preferences, skills and tendencies. After you have determined who your target users are going to be, you need to make the following design considerations:
Make sure that the interface design is simple: Always try to keep your interface as simple as possible because it makes it easier for your users to work through your application. Stay away from any kind of unnecessary elements that complicate things and make sure that the language used on messaging and labels is clear and crisp.
Design page layout according to your goals: Think about the spatial relationship between all the items that you intend to place on the page and then decide on the structure of the page depending on their importance. Strategic placement of the items will help you to draw the attention of your users to the most vital pieces of information which will in turn improve scanning and readability.
Use standard UI elements and maintain consistency: Stick to common elements in your application’s UI so that your users can feel comfortable while using them. New or uncommon elements will only serve to confuse users and this will only lead them to avoid your application and rate your UI poorly.
Choose aesthetic elements of your UI carefully: Color, light, texture and contrast of your UI can make or break your application. On the other hand, you can also use them strategically to your advantage.