What makes a good UI design

9 rules to follow

We created an informative article that addresses marketing specialists who are put in the situation of evaluating a quality UI design or the portfolio of a potential provider of such services. Thus, we try to shed some light on this are of UI design where there are no strict rules, but rather lines that can be followed and adapted to each design and style.

About UI design

A standard definition of UI design is related strictly to the visual appearance of an app, be it web or mobile (spaces, fonts, colors, layout, etc.), but the user interface is much more than that. UI design is more than creating elements or making the product look good visually. It represents the interaction between the user and the application itself.

We could rather say that UI design is about anticipating the user’s needs, creating elements that are easy to access, understand, and use. Usually, the interface is the first element that the user will access in the brand experience, the element through which the user makes the first contact with the brand. So it is extremely important for it to support the brand values, to create an emotional connection with the user and, especially, to support the user experience with strong elements.

Nowadays, websites and apps are interactive and dynamic. A good interface helps increase the conversion rate and maintain the competitivity on the market. But what makes a UI design good?

Here are 9 rules to follow to create a successful UI design:

1. Know the user

You cannot understand good design if you do not understand people; design is made for people” – Dieter Rams, Hands on UX design for developers

One of the most important rules of design is that when you make an interface you have to keep in mind, first of all, the people, the users. A good UI design goes beyond what users want and anticipates their needs.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, said that you should always ”start with the customer and work backward”. It is indicated to take your time and try to know the user, see what he likes, how he interacts with other apps, what is his behavior and, especially, what are his expectations and how can you meet them. And, more importantly, speak his language. A good UI design uses terms that the user is used to.

2. Clarity and simplicity

Good design is actually a lot harder to notice than poor design, in part because good designs fit our needs so well that the design is invisible” – Don Norman, The design of everyday things

Clarity is another aspect on which you should focus when making a good UI design. If the elements aren’t intuitive, clear, simple, the user will feel frustrated by the inability of navigating in the interface and won’t interact with it. 

It is said that a good design is invisible, it doesn’t have elements that are not necessary or stand out. A good UI design is well connected, simple, concise. Each time you want to integrate an element in the design, ask yourself: “Does the user need it?”

3. Consistency

The more users’ expectations prove right, the more they will feel in control of the system and the more they will like it” – Jakob Nielson, The Fundamentals of Interactive Design

It is very important to maintain a general design, layout, language that communicates the values of the brand, with which the user can become familiar. An interface based on consistency allows the user to better understand the way it works, improving thus its efficiency. 

If the criterion of consistency is reached, you can go further towards coherence – such an approach allows much freedom, but it is riskier. Not knowing the audience good enough can lead to disappointing the users, to confusion, to adverse reactions. This step can bring great benefits, but it is very important that it is made in a professional manner.  

4. Familiarity

UI design doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel. An intuitive design is a simple design that attracts the user. People have already created an overview of an app in their minds, so when you are evaluating a UI design you need to search for common elements, familiar icons, easily recognizable terms, how the design tries to minimize the time the user spends completing tasks in the interface.

5. Visual hierarchy

The visual hierarchy of elements leads to design efficiency. The elements on the page must “flow”, have a clear hierarchy both for clarity and functionality. The visual hierarchy helps the user to navigate the page organically, presenting him more than some services, telling him a story. The design must flow from left to right and from top to bottom to create a positive experience. Thus, the visual hierarchy, obtained by using titles, colors, blocks in various sizes, is directly connected with the organization of the design on the page.

6. Aesthetics

Although we said that good design is invisible to the user, it doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be aesthetically attractive. Nowadays, the market is being invaded by more and more products. For the user, it is important that the product is good, but also attractive. A good UI design connects a suite of elements for a successful result both aesthetically and functionally.

7. The user is in control

As the user navigates in the interface, it is essential for him to believe that he is in control, that he is the one that makes things move, that he has fully understood how the interface works, and doesn’t need help anymore. Experienced users nurture the feeling that the interface answers to their actions. They don’t react well to change or the need to enter data repeatedly and even less to the difficulty of obtaining information (for example, too many clicks needed to reach a piece of information).

8. Prevents errors

People are subject to mistakes, that is why it is very important for the user to be able to fix any mistakes he makes when navigating an interface. It is necessary that the interface gives him the possibility to go back, to fix the error without starting all over again, by giving him clear instructions.

9. Gives fast feedback

Normally, in everyday life we constantly receive feedback. The feedback is usually associated with an action. The user expects that every action he takes in an app to have a clear and especially fast reaction. A system that gives clear and fast feedback helps the user to reach faster his goal when navigating in an interface. Simple elements like changing the color of a button on hover or displaying a short message as a result of an action make navigating an interface simple and intuitive.

These rules should be adapted to each project and used with the sole purpose of creating a good UI design that helps the user find the information and product that he needs. Each time when you evaluate a UI design, remember that it is being created for people and always keep in mind the end-user and his needs.

Sources:

  1. usability.gov
  2. medium.com
  3. xd.adobe.com
  4. uxdesign.cc
  5. usabilitypost.com
  6. elegantthemes.com
  7. cs.umd.edu
  8. nngroup.com
  9. Donald A. Norman, Design of everyday things
  10. Dieter Rams, Hands-on UX design for developers
  11. Jakob Nielson, The fundamentals of interactive design