5 Essential Rules In User Interface Design

October 19, 2015
Radu N

The best user interfaces on mobile & the web are the “invisible” ones. We all know that content is the King on the internet, but the same is true for apps as well. As user interface designers we all aim to help the user find great content and interact with the app we design in a very efficient way. Below are 10 essential rules to help you do that.

1. Know your users

It should go without saying it — we ultimately build everything for the user not for the marketing department, our bosses or not even the client. It is amazing how many designers start their work without even considering the user, their goals and what can they do to make it easy for them to use the product.

2. Don’t reinvent the wheel

We all want to get creative and bring our great ideas into the projects we are part of. However, changing the way people are used to be doing things may lead to some serious unwanted consequences. By now, people are used to menus, menu bars, arrows, hamburger menus, etc. When creating an interface the goal is to build on widely accepted UI patterns not to replace them.

3. Be consistent

When you introduce a UI element on a page, your user will expect to find the same or a related UI element on every page that element needs to be on. That means keep the same placement, same size, same color and same context if you can. The last thing you want is for the user to search for search button or for the “next” arrow on the page.

4. Visual hierarchy

Design the user interface for each page in a way that will let the user understand quickly what is important and less important on a page. User headings, size them properly, user colors and white space to differentiate between elements. We all know the importance of grids in web design but they only cover the horizontal aspect of it. When starting a project take time to come up with a vertical grid as well.

5. Know when to keep it simple

The general advice most designers get is to KISS (keep it simple stupid). That’s a great advice for a lot of cases but there are times when you want to offer complexity. In general, if the user needs to accomplish a task, things should be simple and focused on the task at hand. Think of a checkout experience or a create account process. However, you should have complexity when the user searches for something or tries to find product. Imagine Amazon without the apparent product clutter — while visually it may work better, the user will have to spend way too much time clicking “next” to see more products than actually looking at products.

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