We now understand that a website can be so much more than a group of pages connected by links. It can be part of a company’s or individual’s identity, a place to meet, communicate, and make connections. As a web designer, it is your responsibility to facilitate that action and make the experience as meaningful as possible. UI, or user-interface, design is all about making the user the centre of the action.
Whether you are designing the interface for an application, or you need the best practices for mobile forms, it’s worthwhile to understand the UI design guidelines in depth. Here are eight best UI design tips and tricks to make sure you create a memorable interaction for all the users:
1. Know your users
The best UI design tips and tricks are about putting emphasis on the user, and in order to do that—you need to know who they are. This means making the most of all the demographic data at your disposal and being able to turn it into design solutions in a meaningful way. Try to look at it from the perspective of helping your users identify and achieve their goals.
Always try to dig deeper in order to find out what they need. Allow the insights you glean from analyzing data and speaking with users to inform every decision you make throughout the design process.
2. Understand how people use your interface
When it comes to UI design tips and tricks, many designers don’t take the time to properly define how their creating is going to be used. Especially in a climate increasingly dominated by touch-based devices, these details matter. First of all, distinguish between direct and indirect interactions and figure out which one you want to emphasis.
Examples of direct interactions include, tapping a button, swiping a card, or dragging and dropping an item with a fingertip. Examples of indirect interactions are pointing and clicking with a mouse, using key commands/shortcuts or typing into a form field.
3. Set expectations that your users can understand
Interacting on a site or app can often have consequences, and with the threat of consequences comes anxiety and uncertainty. It is crucial that you make it crystal clear to your users exactly what the outcome of any action they take will be.
Use your design tools and a means of setting expectations by highlighting the button that corresponds to the desired action, using universal symbols, and always choosing relevant colours. Expectations can also be enhanced with copy by providing directional and supportive reinforcement, or by delivering warnings and asking for confirmation.
4. Anticipate mistakes and make them easy to resolve
People make mistakes in all aspects of their lives, and you can bet that using your app or website is going to be no exception. That being said, you can reduce the consequences of these mistakes by making them simple to fix.
Use basic mistake-prevention techniques like keeping buttons inactive until you fill out all fields or having forms that detect if an email address hasn’t been entered properly. Use pop-ups to confirm final decisions and help the user make the most of your design.
5. Choose each element placement and size very carefully
Here are three basic tenants of UI design that can make your job a lot easier: make buttons and other “click targets” (like icons and text links) big enough to easily see and click, make the buttons for the most common actions larger and more prominent, and place navigation (and other common interactive elements, like search bars) on the edges or corners of the screen. This works because it lessens the need for accuracy, thanks to the fact that the user doesn’t need to worry about overshooting their click target.
6. Stick to industry standards most of the time
A particular method has likely become the standard way of doing something for a reason. Although you might be tempted to reinvent the wheel, it is usually not worth the time or effort.
When users encounter a different version of a familiar interaction or interface, they get frustrated because it makes them feel like they are being forced to think twice about a process they’ve already learned. You want to please the user, not frustrate them.
7. Make decision-making simple
The simpler you are able to make your design, the faster and easier it will ultimately be for users to arrive at a decision. For that reason, landing pages and non-newsletter emails should only have one call to action. If the variety of actions becomes overwhelming, chances are they are simply going to abandon the task entirely.
8. Always come back to the data
As a designer, you likely evaluate your own work, and that of others, based on artistic merit. Although this is not unimportant, it is necessary to remember that it is not the most vital criterium when it comes to UI design. In order to optimize your design to continue to meet its objective, you need to pay attention to all the data points you receive as your vision comes to life.