How to Best Utilize User Interface
January 7, 2017
A site is a lot more than a few pages connected by links. It’s space and an interface where different people meet, communicate, and affect each other. As a web developer, it’s your job to ensure that the User Experience is pleasant.
While setting up a blog or a website, the key to an excellent user-interface is to think always about your users first and foremost. These few guidelines will help you focus on your visitors when designing apps or websites.
Interface design is a subset of user experience design, which focuses on the layout of the functionality of interfaces and the whole user-experience, not just the interface.
Get to know your users
Paste Image “analyze customers”
First of all, you need to know who your users are from inside and out. It means you should be aware of all the demographic data that your analytics app can pull. It’ll help you understand what they need and what you need to do the assist them in achieving their goals.
You may require more than the analysis of stats to know that level of empathy. You can try talking to them in person, watching them use your product, and asking them for the valuable feedback.
Dig as much as possible to find out what your customer needs because desires are just the outgrowths of our needs and will help to address their requirements.
The perspicacity you’ll uncover from analyzing data and from interacting with users will notify every decision you make, from what types of content you’ll highlight within that interface to how people will use your interface.
Define how people use your interface
You need to define how people will use the design before creating the interface. With the growing pervasiveness of smartphones, it’s a significant concern to know the techniques or methods by which people are going to use your designed-interface. For instance, Tinder: It’s extremely easy and is defined by the impulsivity of an easy swipe.
There are two usual ways of using an app:
- Directly: Directly is when interaction happens with an element of the product such as tapping a button, swiping a card or dragging and dropping an item with a fingertip.
- Indirectly: Indirectly is when an interaction happens with an element external of the product like Pointing and clicking with a mouse, using key shortcuts or typing into a form field.
What devices your users use should inform your decision here profoundly. For instance, designing for writers or coders who have maximum interactions through the keyboard, you’d want to optimize all the keyboard shortcuts to diminish the mouse usage, or if you’re designing for someone with limited manual dexterity, you will take care of the swiping.
Whatever interactions happen on a website has a meaning ,like clicking on a tab can mean liking a post, spending money, erasing a site or much more. So, always let your users know what is going to happen if they’ll click on a particular button. Do it via either design or copy.
With the following implementations of design, you can set expectations for your users:
- Highlighting the button resembling to the desired action
- Using universally known symbols such as a wastepaper basket for a delete button, a plus sign to add something or a magnifying glass to search. For actions with inevitable results, like deleting something permanently, it is mandated to ask people if they’re sure.
- Choosing a color with a relevant meaning like red for stop, orange for more information and green for going ahead.
With the following exercises in copy, you can set expectations for your users:
- Writing clear button copy to make it easier to understand.
- Providing directional or encouraging copy in blank states
- Showing warnings and asking for confirmation
Forecast the errors
In Japanese, there is a term called ‘poka-yoke’ widely used in anticipating the error. It means ‘mistake-proofing’.
Nowadays, you must be observing a lot of techniques to avoid mistakes in e-commerce and form designs. For instance, while filling out the forms, you see a red button if some info is wrong like email or phone number because forms detect that an email address or some other info is not valid or wrong. Also, buttons remain inactive until you completely fill out all the fields. Everything happens in the case of the errors is because of their programming in such ways, and how do developers know to design them in such ways? Anticipation!
It’s why anticipating mistakes often create less of a headache than attempting to repair them later. Every human makes mistakes, and you have to be shrewd enough not just to prevent mistakes before they happen but also provide your users with the ways to fix them if they do happen. Sometimes just let accidents happen because that’s when detailed error messages come into their own.
Paste Image “feedback”
In the non-digital world, we get feedbacks from various instances like when you pat a dog, it looks at you gently and when we speak, another response. Sadly, that is not the case with digital interfaces. When our laptop shows an error, we wonder whether to restart it or to take it to the repair store.
As per a study conducted by Usability.gov, for about half the America’s population, three seconds is enough to cause a bounce. If page loads within five seconds, don’t exhibit a progress bar instead, use a visualization that doesn’t imply progress.
So, it’s always imperative to inform users about the snap back or error before they bounce to some other website. Give loading animations or make the button pop and snap back when users tap it(not too much). But most important of all, make sure it all happens in a fraction of seconds.
How to size and place the elements
How many of us feel that the closer or more visible something is, the faster we can put our cursor or finger (in the case of smartphones) on it? It clearly has all kinds of suggestions for interaction and UI design and the important ones are:
Don’t give small spacing between menus and other link lists. People could end up clicking on wrong links. Design buttons large enough to easily see and quickly click.
Create attractive buttons for the most common or popular actions. You can always:
- Place navigation on the edges of the screen. It lessens the need for accuracy as a user doesn’t need to bother about overdoing their click target.
- Always, keep in mind the interaction model while thinking about the placing and sizing of the element in your web projects.
Never ignore standards
Designers love reinventing things but use your innovations only if it improves the design!
Mostly, people use the methods they are already aware of because they are well-versed with it. You might take an example of Google Docs’ menu. Why does it list almost the same features as the Microsoft Words? It’s because people have self-trained their mind to use the Microsoft version and it leads to the ‘cognitive loads’.
Make decision-making simple
You must have heard about the Hick’s Law. The more options you offer to your users, the time required in making a decision to choose one also increases. It implies to everything we design like layouts, Navigation menus, Pricing pages, Blog indexes and Content feeds.
It’s a never-ending list, but the point is the simpler you try to create options, the faster and easier it gets for users to make decisions.
There is a conflict to this point!
Sometimes you do want your users to slow down and look at the options. The more options they have, the better chances of considering at least one out of multiple options. It’s why the tiled designs of Dribbble and Pinterest work quite well.
Design with keeping in mind that the interface helps your users achieve what they are looking. Every technique doesn’t work in every situation. It’s why you should implement those interface elements and tricks that make sense in your specific niche.