6 Pro Tips to Improve Your User Interface Design
In the modern world, competition between digital properties is high and consumer expectations are even higher. With any new set of user interface designs that you undertake you want to make sure you take into consideration these key factors that can help improve the effectiveness of your designs.
These six pro design tips are often overlooked but can make a big difference on how well your designs will perform.
#1. Don’t over-design your interface
Often, designers feel the need to show off their all their design skill and tools on every project they work on. Utilizing all the digital tools at their disposal, they go overboard and create designs that while they may look aesthetically pleasing are in reality poor user interfaces that will potentially reduce conversions or increase abandonment rates.
Over-designing a user interface can get in the way of a simple and intuitive user experience. Instead, avoid filling your designs with clutter. Have a purpose for each additional item you add to your design. With each addition, focus on creating utility for the user rather than just adding features or design elements. Remember that you don’t have to use all the tools in your tool box on each interface you design.
While great user interfaces are simple and easy to understand, don’t just stick a few items here and there and assume your design will be effective either, under-designing your interface can be equally as ineffective. Instead try to work towards a carefully chosen set of functions and placement that is easy for users to understand and interact with. Users shouldn’t need instructions to be able to navigate through your app or website. Your goal is to guide them to where they need to go through effective user interface design.
#2. Keep the user and context in mind
Remember that you are not the user of the mobile app or the web site that you are designing. All too often, designers will approach a project from the angle of what they want. Unfortunately this is not the right approach.
Instead, consider the actual audience of the web site or mobile app you are designing. Think about their customer journey. How will they interact with the mobile app or web site? What are the distractions they will face? What thoughts might they be having? What are their limitations?
To create an effective design, you need to have a clear understanding of the needs that will bring people to your website or mobile app and then create a design that will allow them to accomplish their intended task. If a visitor lands on your web site or downloads your mobile app, how can you draw them in further? How can you meet their needs in an intuitive fashion?
Once you have developed an understanding of your audience and how they will utilize your web site or mobile app and have designed a user interface based on this information, make sure you test how your target audience responds to your design. Utilize their feedback to refine and improve your design. Feedback from your target audience is incredibly valuable; make sure you leverage it to create a more favorable user experience.
#3. Maintain brand consistency
A business’ brand has potentially been created by years of messaging that has been in the public view through a wide variety of different mediums. From TV to print to radio and the web, a business’ messaging creates an image in consumers’ eyes. It is important that the user interface you design is consistent with what consumers have come to expect from that brand. Variances here can reduce trust that has been built over years.
It is also important that their consumers are presented with a seamless brand experience across any touch point with which they may interact with that brand. Make sure that the voice and style of your user interface design is brand consistent with their product and business evolution.
#4. Communicate clearly
All too often, designers will use terminology throughout their design that is meant to impress rather than to communicate clearly; often using terminology that contains jargon or lingo that users are not familiar with. Avoid this type of communication when possible and try instead to speak in simple human terms. Make it easy to understand to improve the user experience.
Additionally, poor communication can come in the form of spelling errors, grammar mistakes or even just poor explanations. Simple errors can look bad for a brand when published, make sure you double check your work or even get someone else to review it.
#5. Anticipate mistakes users will make
While users are engaged with your design they will sometimes make mistakes. When it comes to this, savvy designers will approach a project with the intent to prevent those mistakes before they happen and in cases where that is not possible, they will provide an easy way out.
Some common examples of mistake prevention techniques are regularly seen in form design. For example, send buttons may remain inactive until after a visitor has filled out all required fields on a form or the common practice of detecting if an email address has been entered appropriately before a user can hit send. By anticipating these types of issues it makes usage less frustrating for users than putting them in the position where they are trying to fix the issue after the fact.
Sometimes accidents will happen and when they do use detailed error messages that not only explain the issue but give the user information to fix the situation to reduce frustration and improve the user experience.
#6. Decisions should be easy for users to make
Any designer with much experience has no doubt been placed in a situation where their client has asked them to fill in as much of the available space as possible. They often see white space as wasted space. Nothing could be further from the truth. White space allows users to focus on key information, while clutter tends to make it hard for a user to focus on anything. A user interface should be easy to use and information should be easy to find.
In your effort to strive for clarity and creating an easy-to-use user interface, remember that the more options you give a user, the more difficult it is for them to make a decision. This is known as Hick’s Law and it has been proven in experiments. Help users make decisions by cutting down on the number of options you are presenting them with.
This includes simplifying layouts, reducing the number of options on navigation menus, cleaning up content to allow users to focus on important information and simplifying other parts of your user interface design. The bottom line is that the simpler you make your design; the easier it will be for users to make decisions.