For the graphic and web designer, the user interface will form the basis of the designer’s most important work. This is because the user interface requires a more defined vision and an ability to combine different elements of design to implement a successful user interface.
So what is a user interface and how does one go about creating one?
The user interface is the mode of interaction for web users between themselves and their machine. It informs the experience the user will have when they interact with web applications and attributes like response time, visual appeal and responsiveness are some of the hallmarks that define the success of web application design.
At the disposal of the web designer, there are many tools with which to complete the job, but the most important thing to know is when to use which tools and for what purposes.
An example is the use of buttons on designs. Not only is it essential to know when and how to use buttons but also to know when the not to use them if they don’t enhance the user experience.
For the sake of professionalism, the web designer must follow a set of guidelines that ensure that the end product will achieve the intended standard to be considered successful.
The most important User Interface Design Guidelines for Web Applications are as follows:
1. Consistency Of The Design
The design that the web designer employs should be seamless and consistent.
This means that different parts of the web application should use the same elements so that when a user is familiar with one part of the user interface, they can easily interact with other parts using the initial understanding.
It is much easier for a user to detect usage patterns this way than to try and memorize how different features are used, so the user won’t need a lot of help navigating around a user interface.
2. Clarity of Layout and Design
Clarity can be achieved by choosing the proper typography, clear images, and a proper layout.
The fonts you decide to use for your web application should be legible, properly laid out and should consistently color-code related items.
Images should be the best quality and properly spaced, with the accompanying text clear and unobstructed. This can easily be achieved by understanding the use of white space. The size of different elements should also enable easy viewership. Size can additionally be used to emphasize the importance of various aspects.
In today’s designs, the particular use of 2D elements that have a 3D feel allows the user to experience elements the same way they would in the real world.
Responsiveness has come to define modern design and user interface design principles are incomplete without it.
The main aim of responsiveness is to make sure that a user has a seamless experience using the user interface across multiple devices. This means that one can access the web application no matter the size of their screen and get a customized feel for the device they are using.
Responsiveness also deals with other factors such as the speed of access for web applications. For the designer, this means minimizing the factors that affect the response speed for the web application without affecting the quality.
It is important to use design elements that most people will be familiar with. This means that even if a user is new to the web application, they can easily recall familiar elements and be able to navigate with ease.
An example of this is the use of navigation arrows. Although navigation arrows can vary in shape depending on the design, they should never differ so much as to confuse the user, and one can anticipate where they will be used in the design.
Familiarity is one of the most important elements because failure in this can lead to a design that limits the interaction of the user with the interface. Therefore when you’re planning a design you should focus on the familiarity of elements you create for the end product.
We can quickly gauge if the user interface design standards have been met by merely looking at the home page of a website or web application.
It is widespread for potential client or users to make up their mind about a business by the look and feel of its website.
To the designer, this means the proper selection of colors, layout and graphic designs that appeal to the user. Creativity in this area separates the best from the average.
Aesthetics also covers the use of minimalism. This means that the designer can use the least amount of material to achieve the job. Providing excess information or use of elements may easily distract users who are keen to interact with specific parts of the application.
Besides, a minimalist approach when designing a web application will also reduce page loading times.
While familiarity allows for users to easily interact with your website, an aesthetically pleasing design will make your users more comfortable spending time on your site, something that can come in handy if your website is selling products or services.
6. Error Recovery and Prevention
The best way to deal with errors is to avoid them from the beginning. It is essential to analyze the web application to understand activities that can introduce potential errors and eliminate them if possible. If you can’t remove them, find a potential flagging mechanism that will allow the designer to detect these errors when they appear.
Most errors are beyond the understanding of most users, and it is essential to incorporate language that the user finds easy to understand for easy communication.
Not all errors are system errors; some mistakes happen on the client side while they are interacting with the web application.
In the planning stage of the user interface design process, it is essential to anticipate what these errors might be and allow room for users to recover from them with little or minimum amount of help.
Potential areas for these kinds of errors include parts of the web application where delete functions are presented to the user, and the design should allow the user to undo these actions and recover quickly.
The design should also allow the user to move forward and backward between pages if they need to make changes to entries made.
7. Ease of Access to Help and Documentation
It is never a good thing to have an application which continually requires the user to request for help because this means that the user interface design has failed.
However, in some cases, this is the only way a client can access help and documenting this case is a priority.
Some web applications choose to avail of a help manual which allows the user the reference needed for the problem at hand. In this case, it is vital to ensure that the user manuals are correctly written and easy to understand.
A more creative method involves developing popup manuals for first-time users of a system that give the user basic instructions on how to use the web application. The user can click through manual and within a few seconds be familiar with a new application.
In other cases, it is crucial to have a search function that allows the user to find solutions to specific problems.
Be sure to check out other fresh articles here on DesignyUp, and find your next gadget, career advice, or find your design inspiration.