The creation of a high-quality user interface implies the principle “the user is above all” and the corresponding methodology for the development of the entire software product. For the software to be good enough, the users must feel that they are managing it, not the other way around. When creating that feeling for the user, the user interface design aspects listed below have to be taken into account.
According to the article by Ditte Mortensen, a natural UI design is one that does not force the users to change their usual ways of solving the issue significantly. It means that the messages and results produced by the application should not require additional explanations. It is also advisable to preserve the notation system and terminology used in this subject area.
The use of familiar to the user concepts and images creates an intuitive interface. It becomes a kind of “bridge” connecting the images of the real world with those actions and objects that a user has to manipulate. Users remember the action associated with a familiar object easily than they would remember the name of the command associated with that action.
Consistent UI allows users to transfer existing knowledge to new tasks, master new aspects faster, and focus on solving the problem, rather than waste time understanding the differences in the use of certain controls, commands, etc. By ensuring the continuity of previously acquired knowledge and skills, consistency makes the interface design recognizable and predictable.
The article ‘Why Consistency Is So Incredibly Important In UI Design’, explains that consistency is vital for all aspects of the interface, including command names, visual presentation of information, and the behavior of interactive elements. To implement the consistency feature in the software UI design, it is necessary to take into account its various aspects.
Users usually learn how to work with a new software product by trial and error. An effective interface should take this into account. At each stage of work, it should only allow the appropriate set of actions and warn users about situations where they can damage the system or data. It is even better if the user has the opportunity to cancel or correct the actions performed: the principle of “forgiveness”.
Even with a well-designed UI, users can make certain mistakes. These errors can be either of a “physical” type (random selection of a command or data) or a logical one (making the wrong decision to choose a command or data). As Ben Shneiderman’s The Eight Golden Rules of Interface Design states, a friendly interface should allow preventing situations that are likely to result in errors. The UI design should also be able to adapt to potential user errors and facilitate the process of eliminating the consequences of such errors.
Clarity is the one of the key features any interface should possess. Ben Shneiderman also believes that for an interface to be effective and user-friendly, it must be recognizable, predictable, and have an obvious purpose.
The users need to understand what they interact with through the interface. There should be no confusion. Clarity is about giving users confidence and willingness to continue interacting with the interface. Many clear screens are better than one messy one.
The primary purpose of an interface is to allow people interacting with the world, to match the system and the real world Through the interface, we get access to services. Interfaces perform specific tasks, and their effectiveness is measurable. However, they may go beyond practical applications. The best interfaces are those that surprise, inspire, awaken feelings, strengthen the experience in interaction with the world.
It is very easy to go overboard and add unnecessary layers to the interface: extra buttons, graphics, options, windows, attachments. The user will have to go through all that to get to the point. To avoid that, UI design should be aimed at direct control and naturalness.
The interface should be so invisible that the user has the feeling of direct control over the object of attention.
Strong Visual Hierarchy
The article by Tubik Studio explains what a strong visual hierarchy is and how it helps the user understand the order in which the visual elements on the screen should be viewed. It allows setting the sequence and smoothly directing the user’s view from one interface element to another. With a weak visual hierarchy, the interface looks overloaded and messy.
Step-by-step Information Flow
The screen has to show only the necessary information. If a person has to make a choice, it has to provide enough information to make a decision and proceed with details on the following screens. There is no need for unnecessary details all at once. They should be delivered gradually.
Contrary to popular belief, one of the keys and common UI design principles is its invisibility. It allows the user focusing on the goals without being distracted by the interface. Although it might be hard for a designer to implement, less is better.
It all comes down to the fact that UI design is successful when people want to use it. Designing user interfaces can be considered not only as creating an interactive environment but also as developing an object of use. The interface itself is not just the graphics — it is the usability element.
By Lena Ivanova