Cameron FrancisJanuary 27,2014

User Interface Design Principles

Category: Web Design

Great designs have a UI that has received a lot of attention. It takes great expertise to comprehend how to give users an excellent experience when visiting a site. We will present you with some of the UI design principles obtained from some of the leaders in the field.

Excellent user interfaces are the defining characteristic of great sites and what separates great sites, from sites that aren’t so good. If the UI is not useful, it can make a web app that is otherwise useful, of no value. This is due to the UI being ill conceived and not tested thoroughly. If a site visitor can’t navigate the site easily, they will quickly go to a competing site that provides a superior user experience.

User Interface Design Principles

Do Not Overcomplicate Features for Accessibility

It is commendable for developers to focus on accessibility when constructing a web app. Nevertheless, at times developers can overdo making forms and sites accessible.

Too much accessibility can detract for our user interfaces at times. At times, when developers begin learning about accessibility, they seek quick methods to improve their sites. This frequently results in the overuse or misuse of HTML features that are designed to increase accessibility. However, when they are used incorrectly they will either have no positive effect, or they can actually make web pages less accessible, and make them less usable.

A lot of the accessibility features that are frequently misused are HTML attributes. They become misused by developers who don’t fully comprehend how these attributes are supposed to assist end users, or web developers who simply want to tell their manager that they added accessibility features to the code without ensuring it is actually helpful.

Always Keep the User In Mind

Always Keep the User in MindDesigners should spend less time agonising over small details and seek to design interfaces that are more useful, keeping the user at the forefront of their thinking.

Designers of UIs make the same fundamental mistakes repeatedly. They forget that a human will be using their code, and focus on the code itself. Humans use interfaces, not computer code validators.

When laboring over various layers of code for long stretches of time, it is difficult at times to take a step back and recall that websites are visited by people, not robots. This does not mean that standards aren’t important. It simply means that complying with standards is not enough to produce a great UI.

When working with layers of code for weeks on end, it’s hard sometimes to step back and remember that our sites are being used by humans, not robots. This isn’t implying that we shouldn’t worry about standards altogether. Standards are great and should be adhered to. We just can’t assume that standards compliance is all that’s needed to create a good UI.

Make Use of Epicentre Design

Epicentre design involves ensuring that the most crucial portions of a design are the first to be designed. Epicentre design means that designers should focus on the most important aspects of a web page and then build the remainder of the page around this focal point. In practical terms, this will mean not beginning with the footer, navigation tabs, sidebar, or colours. It involves beginning the design with the portion of the page that is central to its value. Removing the epicentre would alter the page’s entire purpose. The use of Epicentre Design maintains the focus of a UI, and makes certain that the main point of the page is not missed.

Don’t Ignore Error Pages

Don't Ignore Error PagesError pages are normally the type of item that many web developers like to forget about. It’s a detail that has an effect upon a small proportion of site visitors, correct? Perhaps our view of 404 errors is incorrect. Perhaps we should think of the error page as a tool for teaching site visitors.

A very common problem that occurs is when an error page states that an action is incorrect, without providing the user with a way to rectify the problem. These types of messages leave visitors at a loss. An informative message will help users to rectify their problem and can be used to instruct site visitors as well. Most users will not take the time to learn about features. However, it is likely they’ll spend time to comprehend an error, if you clearly explain it, since they will have a desire to bypass the error.

Examine User Behavior on Your Site

When you spend a lot of time working on the same design, it is sometimes easy to lose sight of the way a user will make use of your site. At times, users will use an application a lot differently than you may have thought.

Designers should understand that when they execute user testing, it will make them a better designer. The designer will be able to visualise precisely how visitors use their designs, and at times they will be surprised by what they see. Some things you perceived as being very obvious are not always obvious to users, and users often engage in actions that you did not consider.

Understanding the way users interact with your site is extremely valuable. If you use this information properly, it will cause you to alter your UIs to suit the needs of your users better. There are some great tools on the market for evaluating user behavior on your site, Crazy Egg is one that comes to mind and it is highly recommended.

Setting Background Colours

Setting Background ColoursOne part of code that is frequently overlooked by web developers is background colour setting. It is incredible the number of designers who neglect to specify a site background colour. They will go to great lengths creating wireframes, writing CSS for various browsers, testing on numerous types of devices, and validating their style sheets and markup. After all of that labour, they will neglect to assign a background colour to a website, and they won’t give it a second thought.

Provide Incentives for Form Completion

It is easy to neglect that site visitors frequently need an incentive to engage in desired actions, like completing forms. In order for your UI to be successful, there must be some benefit to the user for filling out forms like signup or feedback forms.

Your users must have the feeling that the outcome or value of filling out a form is larger than the cost, or time and effort it takes to complete them. Consequently, if you don’t provide your users with something they value in return for filling out your form, the odds are low that the user will fill them out.

Your incentives can be a variety of different things. Some examples include, a product gift certificate, a sweepstakes entry, or a free download of informative content that pertains to your business.

Maintain Consistency in Your UI

Maintain the consistency of design elements. This is a usability principle that is very powerful. When functions behave in the same manner, users do not need to be concerned with what will occur. They are aware of what will occur based on experiences they had earlier.

When the expectations of users prove to be correct, they will tend to feel that they are in control of the system they are using, and they will enjoy it more. If a system repeatedly does not function as users expect, they will feel insecure about using it.

Minimise Jargon

It’s very easy to use several buzzwords or jargon in the copy of your UI. We use it, since we know what it means. Nevertheless, we run the risk of alienating users by making use of terms they aren’t familiar with. For this reason, it is advisable to minimise the use of jargon.

Professional jargon can be used when you are certain that you are communicating to an audience that comprehends it and it provides additional precision and specificity. If you make use of jargon outside of this scenario, it is likely that you aren’t communicating clearly and effectively.

In Place Of a Wireframe, Create a Prototype

In building a UI a lot of developers begin with a wireframe that depicts their site. Nevertheless, as rich internet apps that are driven by Ajax are becoming increasingly common, modelling a dynamic site with a wireframe is not so helpful. Many times, building a prototype is more effective.

Wireframes many not be so beneficial for designing UIs that are very complex. Prototyping permits designers to more clearly recognise design problems earlier in the design process. When we are constructing applications that contain complex, rich functionality, the ability to foresee potential problems at the beginning of the project are reduced. The area of potential problems is just too vast, which is why we began utilising wireframes to begin with. Frequently, the only method to comprehend where problems may potentially arise, and to come up with potential solutions for these problems, is by sketching them.

Wireframes are useful for sketching layout and content. However, when we start constructing interactive interfaces, the efficacy of wireframes is reduced. It becomes necessary to start to sketch the functionality of the site, by coding it into a prototype in order to examine the behaviour of the application.

Author: Cameron Francis Cameron Francis is the Director of eTraffic Group. He has been engaged in all aspects of online marketing for the past 8 years. He is actively involved in SEO, Paid Search, Social Media Optimisation, and Web Design.

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