User interface is like a double edged sword.
If you implement it well, you can use it to your best advantage in growing your business. Executing it incorrectly, however, can mean a lot of glitches in your online system. So how do you know if you have a good UI design? Just do a quick observation. If the visitors don’t even take the time to notice it, you’re fairly on the right track. If, on the other hand, they’re sending you feedback, you can bet it’s almost always negative – and you definitely need to do something about it soonest or you’ll end up sabotaging your own company’s potential to interact positively with customers.
Whatever product or service you’re offering, you need an online platform. That means that creating an excellent user interface is not just a nice-to-have option in your site; it’s absolutely critical. And while the overall feel and design of your UI will depend on your specific industry or field, there are still fundamental UI design principles that will hold you in good stead no matter what your line of business is. The principles are based on the classics: from the 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design by Jakob Nielsen, to the Principles of Interaction Design by Bruce Tognazzini, and, of course, The Eight Golden Rules of Interface Design by Ben Shneiderman.
These fundamental design rules generally work in any interactive system. So whether you’re developing something for a traditional GUI (for example: website and mobile app) or non-GUI environment (like a voice-based system), they’re going to be applicable. Below are three of them.
- Put the users in charge of your interface.
If you want to build an effective interface – and of course you do – you have to allow your users to be in control. Doing so will let them easily learn their way around your platform, whatever it is, and they’ll be comfortable in the process.
For instance, it totally makes sense to have actions easily reversible. It’s important to note that the user should be able to backtrack whatever they’re doing. Let’s put it this way: when you’re trying to explore a new product, doesn’t it help to know that you can easily undo whatever you did? The same goes for just about anybody navigating their way around something new. Make it easy to explore unfamiliar options and features. If the user has to tiptoe their way around your platform for fear they’d click a wrong button, that’s a red alert that you’re doing it wrong.
Your interface should also be easy to navigate. Even if you’re in B2B and you’re offering a full range of features, users should never feel intimidated or uncomfortable to press a button. It will certainly help if you give users a context of where they are, what they’ve just accomplished, and what they can expect from there.
- Make it easy for the users to have product interaction.
Make this your motto in UI design: if it doesn’t help, it’s only a distraction – and an unnecessary one at that. Anything irrelevant takes up additional space that can better serve those items that are really needed. So simplify your design and check to make sure your visuals and content do help users perform their tasks better, faster, and easier.
No need to ask twice. If the users have already entered a data once, there’s no need to keep asking them about it. It’s a tedious task that most people hate – and you can be sure users are no exception. Your app should be able to perform the most amount of work with the minimum amount of user information needed. That’s the benchmark you need to aim at.
A good user interface design also avoids jargons and other technical terms. It may sound fancy and sophisticated, but it doesn’t help. Your language should be easily understandable – whether or not the user is familiar with your industry or not. To work around this, use everyday words and concepts that are common.
It’s your duty in designing the UI to make sure the user’s work is protected at all times. This means you need to ensure that they never lose their work for whatever reason – whether the internet got disconnected; they made an error on their part; there was a power outage; or the system had a glitch. There’s nothing more annoying for users than having to start all over again after they’ve already done considerable work on something.
- Avoid letting the users think too much.
The point of putting in the effort to make your UI design efficient is to let the users easily work their way around your product. If they have to think too much just to execute a transaction or try out a feature, you’re defeating your own purpose. For example, in keying in something as simple as phone numbers, it helps to break it into smaller pieces or have spaces between them; it’s very common not to discover errors in a cluster of more than 10 digits.
When doing your UI design, you also need to reduce the number of actions needed in order perform a task. In this regard, it helps to consider the three-click rule: the user must be able to accomplish his goal in just three clicks; anything more than that can already be quite tiresome.
Another thing that’s helpful to remember is this: recognition is better than recall. That’s because it takes less brain work to recognize something than have to try to remember it. On that note, you need to make your UI’s features very visible and easily recognizable.
The bottom line for a good UI design is pretty straight-forward: it should be clear, simple, and easy to navigate. That’s about it. Follow the fundamental design principles to guide you in helping create wonderful experiences for your users.
What UI design principle do you follow? Or what do you think you can implement next in your business? Let us know in the comments.