When a user visits a new website or app it doesn’t take them very long to instinctively know if it’s good or not. Quality user interfaces are something that we recognize right off the bat because they work on multiple levels.
Not all user interfaces are created equally, though, and here we’re going to look into some of the reasons why.
How User Interfaces Work
A user interface (UI) is the meeting point between humans and machines.
For example, when you turn your computer on, your operating system is your graphic UI. It’s the medium by which you interact with your computer processes.
User interfaces are deeply important because it’s how a person consumes your media, product, business, concept, and much more!
One of the key principles to good UI design is that it often mimics our physical reality.
As human beings, we’ve grown to understand how the world works. Specifically, we know how to interact with physical objects and how those objects will act in space and time.
Some examples include:
- Gravity causes objects to fall when dropped from a height
- Objects don’t move on their own unless influenced by outside force
- Smaller objects can be stored inside larger objects–but not the other way around
There’s a lot more than that, but if you’ve ever interacted with a digital device, you can start to see how UIs mimic our physical world.
If a UI deters too much from our reality, it becomes confusing and easy to disregard a website or app and, therefore, your business.
In fact, Google’s Material Design uses guidelines that follow these basic principles.
Let’s take a look at some bad examples of UI design so we can understand the good.
Frontloading Too Much Information
Have you ever visited a web page only to find an entire wall of continuous text?
Sure, maybe the information was important, but chances are you went searching for another source. Regardless of how much information you need to convey to your audience, formatting it in a way that is digestible is crucial.
Good user interfaces split information up into chunks of topics and areas that are clearly separated and delineated.
How one navigates your website or app should be a top priority.
Most applications and websites have links either taking the user deeper into your website or somewhere else entirely.
When links are attached to images or random words with no explanation, a user may feel lost, confused, and frustrated. This is a one-way ticket back to a Google search for your competitors!
Navigation through links and menus should be crystal clear and explicit.
Style Over Usability
Whether you’re talking about font, animations, or trendy mobile app choices, one should never choose style over usability.
That being said, style is important. Many professionals agree that a user’s emotions are important to design choices. Having fonts, logos, icons, animations, etc. that are clean and visually appealing shouldn’t be disregarded.
On that same note, no one should sacrifice usability.
If you’re using interesting font choices for headers and logos but changing them up from one page to the next (or even on the same page), it ends up looking like a jumbled mess.
Animations, while helpful for visual cues (such as a browser window becoming smaller when it’s minimized), can be a nuisance when they are used too often or inconsistently.
Animations can be used well, but they should always serve a purpose.
Do you remember the recent backlash Snapchat received when they switched their UI?
Users demanded the original UI to be brought back as users found the original design easier and more intuitive for social interactions within the app.
Digital Objects Should Mimic Reality
If you utilize objects in an app or your website, how they function shouldn’t completely abandon the physical reality we know and understand.
For example, objects can move when outside force is used (touching a touch screen, clicking with a mouse, etc.), but they shouldn’t disappear and reappear entirely.
Objects also interact with each other in a way that makes sense, such as using force when being dragged across a screen or moving other objects out of the way when they come in contact with each other.
Using Common Sense to Make Good User Interfaces
Often, it’s the concepts we already know and understand that inform the quality design of user interfaces.
What looks appealing or not may be subjective, but how it all functions is based on our physical reality.
Think about some of your favorite apps or apps you use on a daily basis.
Do they have good UIs? What features of their UI do you like? What improvements could they make to their UI?
If you’d like to learn more about good UIs or see how BrainyApps can make your app ideas a reality, feel free to contact us today!