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Principles of User Interface Design

The defining quality of great interface design is the fact that it goes unnoticed by the users. UI design exists for one reason and one reason only – to facilitate user interaction through beautiful, easy to use interfaces. Most UI designers follow a few basic rules of the discipline to create interfaces that allow ease of repeated use. Users always come back to a product interface that seems to get the job done with the minimum effort in the shortest period of time. Even though the layman may not be fully aware of what UX/UI design is, they favor those applications that prioritize both aesthetic appeal and functional design.  If you’re working on interface design as a dedicated UI designer, you should keep the following principles of UI design in mind:

Let the user decide how they wish to use your product

Think about it this way- the most successful brick and mortar stores are the ones with wide aisles, plenty of line of sight product placement, easy navigation to go back to something you missed and simple, strategic checkout and exit route. 

The same ideology must be applied to product development online. Help users find their way back to where they began and help them start where they left off. They should be able to navigate the site effortlessly without too much repetition of action. 

The user interface must also provide visual cues through contrasting colors and fonts that help the user predict what they are likely to see next. They should not feel confused by what pops up on their screen or feel alienated by design.

Reduce Heavy Lifting or Cognitive Load

In the current day and age, the attention span of the average user is depleting with every passing day. Most people scan a website with one or two clear objectives in mind. If the interface does not seem to match this need criterion, users are quick to bounce off the site. A typical eCommerce website experiences a bounce rate of approximately 45%; a higher bounce rate means lesser conversion.

Hence, in order to build a user-friendly interface, designers have to reduce the cognitive load on the user. Your design should quite figuratively act as an invisible assistant to users that guide them through the site or app. People should not be made to think questions like where is this? what is this? How can I perform an action? Your design should be able to aid through and guide them effortlessly. The language must be simple and easy to understand, free of jargon-heavy terms. Moreover, the interface must provide sufficient prompts to help users make decisions.

Principle of Familiarity

Interfaces design should follow the principle of least surprise. In fact, the user interface design must leverage what consumers already know through their current experiences of existing universal web and apps behavior. 

For example, the universal graphic for search is the magnifying glass; when you add a search bar within the interface, use the same icon to trigger an immediate recall. Use similar terminology also wherever possible.

Principle of Consistency

Within the application or web, apply consistency. The structure, style guidelines, and elements must be consistent across devices and platforms. The colors, font, language and visual topography must remain throughout and in any communication with the user. 

For example, if you have a cross-platform app – say a mobile and Web App; it is imperative that you start designing with the mobile-first approach because the screen space is limited and follows the same consistent design on web-app. 

Interaction friendly interfaces

Features on the interface must be user-friendly. UI designers must strive to cancel all the noise in the operation of the app and provide a clear pathway for the users to fulfill their goals. The text size in the headers must be legible so that a user can glance through the contents of the site without having to zoom in. The same applies to the size of call-to-action boxes, camera icons and so on. The interface must also engage audiences when the app directory fails to furnish information that the user is looking for. Error handling must be done in a reassuring, pleasing manner to prevent the user from abandoning the application altogether.

Conclusion

The fastest depleting resource in the world today is attention span. The biggest organizations in the world are investing smartly in strategies that can increase eyeballs on their website or application. In order to grab the user’s attention and keep them interested for longer, we must apply these principles of UI design in the overall design strategy of the product and build interfaces that are simple to use, easy to understand and beautiful to look at. The principles of UI design are sacrosanct in the product development process and should be adhered to in all respects.

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