UX specialists will often make a big deal of pointing out that UX is not the same as UI, and usability people will do the same. Well, they all have a point – UI is just one (very large) part of these sciences, not the whole of them. However, this mis-classification has resulted in an increase in people overlooking how important a good UI design actually is – to the success and workability of a page, construction etc….
User interface design principles are too often overlooked during the creation of websites. This is also true when creating SaaS and software. As someone with experience in UX, usability, programming and visual design all around, I can speak for a lot of software and web service.
Many powerful, capable and useful companies end up because their interfaces were either bad or just not easy to come to grips with.
So, let’s take a look at a few of the more important principles that apply across the board.
#1 – It’s Ok … Use Boxed Components.
It’s common for designers to create custom controls and components with a unique, stylized look. While it’s ok to do this somewhat for web services, it’s not a good idea for mobile apps or local software systems. While customization doesn’t always slow things down if they’re designed really well and efficiently, it’s very likely they could cause problems.
Overly-artistic custom controls may slow down the user’s mind. (Even if the slowdown isn’t real, elaborate designs may cause people to feel like it’s there). Don’t underestimate your users; people who are used to a particular device or operating system are instantly capable of understanding an array of wisely-placed and configured native components. This means increased eye tracking and intuition with your software -if you use boxed controls.
#2 – More Forms vs. More Components
Another mistake that can make a design overwhelming is to have too much going on, on an individual page or form – even if it’s well-placed. Your software may have complex processes, functions and tasks to be performed, but the desire to place all of the buttons and apps in immediate visibility will end up being even more complex and overwhelming.
Look at software, like 3D modeling tools. While this modeling software isn’t actually that hard to use when you know what to do, all the junk on the screens makes it sure seem like that. The aversion of using clean forms or pages in higher count to avoid crowding is a natural instinct, but it’s an instinct to overcome.
#3 – Mind Eye Tracking
Eye tracking is critical; when you lay out your forms or pages, you need to design them with this in mind. In a given page or form, the main components of a task need to present themselves in a logical order. Designers need to pay attention to how the eye notices color, shapes, flow and scale. For instance, a user will expect a work or display area to be above control buttons or submission forms, and so on.
The tips outlined above are important user interface design principles. If you’re interested in the design of websites, services or applications, I would start with these concepts and build on from here.