A website is more than a collection of pages stitched together with links. It’s also a User Interface (UI). As such, the UI design focuses on the user’s visual journey as they move through your website. This journey or interaction creates an experience for the visitor. Therefore, the website designer’s job is to make that experience as pleasant as possible. With this in mind, here’s a look under the hood of the website designer’s process to produce the optimal user interface design.
User Interface Design – Get to Know Your Users
To begin, you must know everything you can about your users. To do this, gather all the demographic information possible. Next, sit down with users and see how they interact with your product. Moreover, ask them questions like ‘what do you need?’ and ‘what are the obstacles?’ These insights will inform the UI design throughout the process. Consequently, you’ll know what to highlight and which direction to take them.
To create a favourable user experience, designers must reduce anxiety to a minimum. Therefore, always inform users that there may be consequences if that particular button is clicked. For instance, clicking may mean spending money or deleting content. You can do this with copy or design.
Fast Feedback – Now!
When interacting in real life, we receive constant feedback. We expect it, good or bad. So too should we when browsing. However, how many websites do you sit at waiting for something? Should you reload the page? Reboot the laptop? Or maybe chuck it out of the window? As a species, we’re not very good at waiting. So, design a cool animation that lets users know something is still happening.
Element Size and Placement
Optimal element (buttons etc.) size and placement are fundamental to good user interface design. There are a few ways to achieve this. Firstly, make buttons and other click targets big enough and easy to click. Is there anything more frustrating than clicking the wrong link over and over because they’re too closely spaced? Secondly, make the most important buttons more prominent and more apparent. Lastly, position elements like navigation and search bars around the edges of the screen. This makes it easy for users to hit quickly without worrying about overshooting the target.
User Interface Design – Don’t Always Reinvent the Wheel
Designers are creative beasts and can get carried away with unnecessary innovation. In other words, some standards are best left as they are. Consequently, changing familiar layouts and icons causes too much ‘cognitive load’. Moreover, folks don’t want to relearn what they already know.