Good design is increasingly important. There are now so many different digital offerings that really good digital products and services are characterized by smart, user-centric, contemporary design. Here at Computer Rock, we develop new digital products and services for various international clients every day and in this post, we want to explain what matters. Sharing some of our learnings on how to design a good and user-centric user interface.
To design a good user interface, you should first understand what the user interface actually means - and what it doesn't mean.
The basic rules for a successful user interface (UI) design are the foundation of our daily work for our clients. The user is in the foreground. It is about presenting the product or service to the user in the best possible way. As the provider of a website or an app, in an increasingly busy landscape, you are competing for the user's attention.
What is user interface design?
The best-known elements in the user interface are various input fields (e.g. text fields, checkboxes, dropdown lists, etc.), navigation and orientation aids for the user (e.g. icons, search fields, menus), information elements (especially notifications), and content elements (i.e. how certain texts are divided and displayed). All of these elements and many more can be used to design the content on the website or app, and you always have to balance which combination is most appropriate. So, on the one hand, it may be that you could save more space by using different ones - so the page looks more "aesthetic". But at the same time, this design makes the application more complicated to use. Exactly these questions and tasks have to be clarified in the context of user interface and user experience design.
How do I develop a successful user interface design?
As is so often the case, there is of course no simple definitive answer to this question. However, there are some particularly important and fundamental rules that form the basis for a good UI design. Here are the most important rules for a smart user interface design.
1. Know your target audience
As with every aspect of user-centered product development, the first thing to consider is the target audience. Who is the target audience and what are the needs of the corresponding users? You need to tailor your offering to the user's needs, not try to change the user's behavior. Once the basic question of the target group is clarified, the whole user interface is based on the respective usage. How do people use the product or service? On a mobile device or on a laptop? Can or should the user interact directly and e.g. click a button or rather indirectly with the product (e.g. use shortcuts etc.)? These questions frame the particular project and define the scope of the user interface.
2. Explain to the user what happens next / what he should do
A good UI design explains the following steps to the user. It describes and clarifies what the user will do by clicking the button - what the consequences are. But you don't always have to use words and texts to explain something to the user. Various design elements can be used in the user interface to explain things briefly and concisely.
For example, certain words can be highlighted - e.g. via the font or via the color. A green button means something different than a red button - this is now so deeply anchored in human understanding that no further explanation is needed. Moreover, different icons are also linked to a certain action: a trash can means to delete something, a plus sign means to add something. With such tricks, you can explain your actions to the user and make the usage understandable.
3. Be clear & keep it simple
Matching the previous point, it is important that the UI design is simple and clear. One should not make it unnecessarily difficult for the user to be able to use the service or product. Simplicity and clear structure refer to (almost) all aspects of UI design. In particular, the terms, colors, and shapes used should be understandable. A fancy design is desired by many, but in the rarest cases, it is worthwhile. Instead, you should stick to unambiguous wording and colors - this makes it easier for you and your team, but especially for the user.
4. Stick to certain standards
Many clients want a new and unusual design, also and especially in the area of the user interface. However, one should keep in mind how standardized some elements in UI design have become. The best example of this is the well-known Microsoft Word programs and their clones. Google's equivalent, Google Docs, and Apple's writing program, Pages, look very similar. The menu bar looks the same everywhere - in which the many other functions are hidden. Likewise, the option to close a window is firmly fused with the upper left or upper right corner. These standards should not be ignored for a successful UI design.
5. Plan for and prevent operating errors
People make mistakes, that is always the case. Accordingly, it is important to plan for these errors. No UI design in the world is so self-explanatory and understandable that user errors won't happen. Instead, a good user interface plans for such errors forgive a wrong input, and gives the user "a second chance". Furthermore, one can let the user confirm the action - when deleting a file, one is not asked without reason whether one "really wants to delete the file". This allows the user to go back and revise or adjust their selection if necessary.
6. Test, get feedback, incorporate feedback & do it all over again.
Last but not least, no UI designer in the world can develop and design the perfect user interface on their own. Instead, as is often the case, you have to rely on feedback. And these feedback loops are not a one-time affair. In the spirit of an agile way of working, feedback should be obtained constantly and repeatedly and then incorporated. In the beginning, extensive feedback tests are a good way to qualitatively test the design. Later, even after going live, you can use the various data provided by analytics and similar providers to gather many valuable insights to continuously improve and optimize the UI design and ultimately the product or service.
These are the most important basics and rules for a successful user interface design. Of course, there is much more, but that would go beyond the scope here. If you are looking for an agency with award-winning user interface design, feel free to contact us (https://computerrock.com/en/contact-us).
We develop digital products and services at 4 locations in Hamburg, Zurich, Manchester, and Belgrade. Conception, design, and development from one source. Our technical solutions range from large customer experience ecosystems to individual mobile and web applications. We offer local and vertical market expertise through our various locations and develop applications for SME companies and start-ups as well as global corporations. Here (https://computerrock.com/en/our-work) you can see some of our references.