Designing Web UI in the Modern Digital World
October 7, 2016
As web design reaches new technological heights and user attention hits all-time lows, website designers are tasked with striking a tricky balance. Designers must captivate their target audiences without overwhelming them. Advances in technology enable web designers to execute never-before-seen interface ideas, but the core of a website must remain a seamless, intuitive experience. Today’s user interface (UI) is more open for innovation than ever before, but web designers must prioritize ease of use above all else.
Master User Engagement
The lifeblood of web design is figuring out how to capture an audience’s attention. Websites nowadays must not only grab awareness, but also encourage user engagement. Users who can’t engage and interact with a website will lose interest in the first few seconds of visiting a page. Today’s web designers have a world of potential at their fingertips with burgeoning new technologies and methods of engaging with users.
Content, for example, is still not a tired subject. There are new ways of creating content, including interactive graphic interfaces with custom-made illustrations. Web designers are discovering new ways to incorporate video content onto a webpage that best capture audience attention or use original photography to make a bold and beautiful statement. UI of the future optimizes user engagement in every way possible, including stimulation of senses – sight, sound, and touch. The more content speaks to a user, the more likely he or she will remain on the webpage.
Adopt a Mobile-First Mentality
Modern consumers don’t simply appreciate a webpage that’s optimized for mobile – they’ve come to expect it. Brands that are still trying to trim their large websites down to fit on smaller screens need to recognize the importance of switching to a mobile-first mentality. Mobile-first enables web designers to optimize their sites for mobile devices first, and then expand the interface to work on desktops. This shift toward mobile-first has been on the horizon for the last few years, but now it’s here. There is no longer any question of mobile’s power on e-commerce sites and beyond.
Mobile-first web design considers all the variables that change when a user switches from a desktop to a smartphone or tablet. The user now engages with a website via touch, making it important for designers to put icons easily within reach of a user’s finger. The screen is much smaller, as is text that’s not optimized for mobile. Make navigation easy with larger text, dropdown menus, and long scrolling. Typography needs to be readable for users of all age groups. Transitions should flow from one page to another fluidly, creating a seamless user experience.
The rules of web design change significantly when optimizing for mobile first. It’s important for web designers to embrace these differences and create the best user experience possible for mobile users. Instead of just including mobility as an afterthought, web designers need to make it their first priority. This mentality is the only way designers can stay ahead of the technological curve and create websites for the user of the future.
Spend Time on Visual Interface Design
Web designers must spend enough time focusing on the physical representation of their interfaces as users see it on their devices. Creating appropriate and intriguing visuals is a web designer’s only hope for user engagement and foot traffic. The core elements of visual interface design have not changed, but technological advances shed new light on what is possible and what users prefer.
The layout and positioning of a site’s interface should work in a way that effectively communicates with users. Pay strict attention to the spacing between elements on an interface. Two elements poised close together should indicate a relationship between the two – such as icons and their labels. Position elements carefully to improve readability. Enable users to skim or scroll down a page and collect vital information easily. Make icon shapes and silhouettes unique and appropriate for their purpose. The most important elements should be larger. These design choices should be seamless, speaking to a user without him or her even realizing it.
It’s no secret that color matters greatly on a webpage. Color can express significant meaning – such as red for stop and green for go. Users subconsciously react a certain way based on color. These reactions are more or less predictable and known in the modern world. Web designers need to communicate through color, taking into consideration color associations different cultures may have and the colorblind user. Use indicators besides color, such as shape and texture, to ensure every user enjoys a pleasant experience. After spending enough time on the visual interface design, transition to ease and clarity of use.
Make Ease of Use Your Top Priority
Today’s consumers are tech-savvy. So tech-savvy, in fact, that their expectations for how a website should function have hit sky-high limits. Consumers expect web designers to understand modern demands for a website, such as mobile optimization and a clear grid design. They assume a website will anticipate their demands and react accordingly. If a website fails to deliver, consumers don’t stick around to see if things improve. To keep users on your site, make usability a top priority.
Creating an effective UI requires use of the newest industry tools and techniques. This includes using white space to your advantage. Build relationships between interface elements with expertly integrated white space between text, buttons, and headings. Group related items together by tightening white space, and increase white space to build a hierarchy of elements on the page. Rounded corners are all the rage these days, both visually and for practical reasons. Round off the corners of your elements to increase attraction and add visual polish to your UI, as well as to show the boundaries of different containers.
Build Relationships with Your Users
The new UI is all about making connections with your audience. These connections will serve as your link to the consumer, even when they exit your webpage. With so many web design trends floating around, it can be easy to fall into the habit of simply adopting every new UI technique. However, if this is as far as you take your UI design, you’ll merely end up shadowing every other website that’s taken a page from the same book. Make your website stand out by going beyond simple, popular UI designs and into the realm of building real relationships.
Tracking user’s behaviors is the best way to learn how to communicate effectively through your UI. You can’t learn from a project and improve your process if you don’t track your UI’s effectiveness with your real audience. Instead of completing a website and considering its performance afterward, make tracking behaviors and altering UI part of the full process. In other words, complete phases of your website and track behaviors at each phase. Make changes accordingly, and then track users’ reaction to your changes. This flexible, user-centric way of web design is the core of progressive design for modern users.
Web design is always changing and is intrinsically tied to advances in technology. It’s vital for web designers to understand how to keep users engaged with the websites they visit, and building a slick, intuitive interface, plays a major role in this task. Mastering user engagement, adopting a mobile-first mentality, prioritizing ease of use and clarity, and tracking user behaviors are the most effective ways to consistently optimize your UI for your user base. Meet the modern user in the middle with these progressive design best practices.