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What is UI Design or User Interface Design?

29/02/2024

What is UI Design?

 

UI Design or User Interface design refers to the process of designing the interface of software, applications, and websites. It focuses on the visual aesthetics and the usability of a digital product. The main vision of UI design is to improve the style and usability of websites and app pages making them simple and more user-friendly. It is at the core of designing any consumer-centric digital product which makes UI design an extremely vital stage in the cycle of product development in today’s digital age.

 

User Interface design is the first step toward wireframing and building the pages and tabs in software, application or website. With a wide range of UI design apps available today, such as Figma, Adobe XD, Sketch, Framer, and Invision Studio, to name a few, it is crucial for businesses of all sizes and in every domain to explore this process. Besides, there is a growing community of UI designers on platforms such as Dribble, and Behance, among others that help businesses target quality design professionals for all kinds of UI design requirements. Moreover, with such rising awareness among designers and businesses alike, many UI and UX design tools such as Webflow, Treejack, UI Sources, UnDraw, Typewolf, and Zeplin, among others, provide a plethora of resources to make UI design more seamless and productive. 

 

Now that we understand the importance of User Interface design, let’s explore the concept and the possibilities that it has to offer for businesses as well as for designers.

 

Understanding User Interface Design

 

The word interface signifies the point of access where the user interacts with software, a website or a mobile application. UI design entails exploring and analysing all possibilities of interaction between the user and the digital product. In this respect, the UI designer must have a comprehensive idea of the behaviour of the user towards a product to create an interface that caters to all of the user’s requirements. It also includes understanding the user pain points while navigating through the various pages of the product and charting the most profitable yet simple route for the business.

 

UI Design is concerned with the aesthetic sensibilities of the users as well as the overall functionality of the product. It is also about the choices that the designer makes to stylise a product aligning it to the business needs as well as the consumer’s browsing patterns. The various elements that a UI designer usually works with include buttons, images, illustrations, fonts, menu bars or tabs, headers and footers, spacing, alignments, etc.

 

The key is to position each of these elements in a way to make the app browsing process intuitive and easy for the users. Besides, understanding the business goals, and vision to align the UI design, the designer must also keep in mind that the end-users are humans who have aesthetic preferences, comfort needs, and limitations. All of which need to be addressed by the UI designer when designing a product for any business.

 

Types of User Interfaces

 

There are primarily three types of user interfaces which work as the vantage point of accessibility between the user and the design of the product. The following paragraphs discuss these in crisp detail.

 

Graphic User Interface

 

Graphic User Interfaces or GUIs allow users to interact with visual representations of functional elements on a digital panel such as a mobile screen or a computer. It is the most common type of user interface in today’s world. It is integral for businesses to develop software products and websites that have a well-defined GUI that not only helps users identify with their brand but also assists them in purchasing goods or services offered by the organisation. 

 

Voice Controlled Interface

 

Interfaces that allow users to access the product with their voice are known as voice-controlled interfaces. It is one of the newly emerging user interfaces that have become popular due to the advent of smart assistant products like Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa and Google Voice Assistant. Moreover, many businesses also develop their own APIs for voice-based navigation or integrate one of the three mentioned above.

 

Gesture-Based Interface

 

Gesture-based interfaces facilitate users to interact with the product through bodily gestures and motions in 3D design spaces. While hand gestures for screenshots and zooming have been in the tech domain for quite some time now, these are becoming more adaptive to meet the needs of today’s times. Gesture-based interfaces are becoming more popular with the emergence of virtual reality devices and VR games.

 

 

A Few Tips for User Interface Design

 

Here are a few in-trend tips for designing high-quality user interfaces for a business and its customers:  

 

Status Visibility

 

One of the most significant aspects of UI design is to make sure that it offers visible feedback within a given time frame. For example, when a user clicks on a button it may instantly change its colour to indicate the status of the process, whether or not, the click was successful or if the action of the button is currently loading. 

 

Using Real-World Elements

 

It is essential to make the products relatable for the users so they can intuitively use them. This can be done by matching design elements with relevant real-world objects like symbolising the search function with a magnifying glass or by displaying a handbag icon for the cart page.

 

Consistency

 

One key aspect of great UI design is maintaining consistency across all the pages and tabs of the app or website being designed. This can be easily achieved by standardizing design elements such as by using a defined colour palette or by using only one set of icon packs. This ensures that the user interactions become more seamless and smooth throughout all the app pages.  

 

Predictability

 

Designers should create design elements such as buttons and menu bars to function predictably. One of the best examples is the pinch to zoom in function which allows users to use the product easily making the app or website more intuitive and user-friendly.

 

Discoverability

 

Users don’t have all day to figure out how to navigate through the app pages. This is why designers should make the icons and buttons easily discoverable. For instance, using shadows and highlights alternatively to define the functionality of a button can make it easier for the users to navigate. Creating a seamlessly scrollable home page with the primary desired action at the top can also be another way to improve discoverability. 

 

Respect for User’s Attention

 

It is very easy for the users to lose their attention if the user interface is poorly designed. For this reason, focusing on readability and hierarchy makes it easier for the users to interpret the flow of the app pages. This can be done with proper alignment, colours, fonts, spacing and by decreasing the number of clicks required to perform important on-page actions.

 

Simplicity

 

Simplicity is one of the key features of good UI design. Designers often try to eliminate redundancies by keeping only the essential elements that serve the user’s purpose. This can also be done by minimizing the number of actions required to perform a certain task. Creating guide bubbles for the user can also assist in making the progressive disclosure of the pages more user-friendly and simple. 

 

Control and Freedom

 

It is essential to provide the users with sufficient access to the product by striking a balance between control and freedom. This can be done by including functions that let users undo or redo actions, creating accessible guides and allowing them to easily navigate back to the previous pages. 

 

Flexibility

 

Designers should customize the system interface in a way that suits the user’s needs. Frequently performed actions could be made easier through shortcuts and gestures so that it doesn’t become tedious for the users. This improves the flexibility of in-app operations which also results in greater returns for the business. 

 

Aestheticism and Minimalism

 

 

The best design practice is to keep the product visually appealing as well as simple to use. This can be achieved through understanding the aesthetic sensibilities of the target audience while allowing them to function with ease. It is important to not let the users get distracted by unnecessary elements along with making the design visually appealing. Minimalism is one of the popular trends that help achieve this goal in the field of UI design.

 

 

UI Design vs UX Design

 

UI design and UX design are two distinct yet interconnected concepts in the process of product development. UX design or user experience design is the process of creating products that deliver a relatable and valuable experience to users. User experience is a holistic term which refers to the complete end-to-end experience of the user with the product and the company. UX designers integrate various elements like branding, engineering, design, marketing, and functionality to deliver the best possible user experience.

 

While UI design transforms wireframes into intuitive and interactive interfaces, UX design entails the entire process of understanding the experience of the users while designing the product. It is the task of the UX designer to understand the complete customer experience. It comprises analysing the target audience, defining the user flow and behaviour, and conducting user tests to develop the product. On the other hand, UI design consists of creating the functional, visual and other interactive elements of the product such as the typography set, alignments, icon packs, and illustrations to create an easily usable and fully functional user interface. However, in today’s world, the roles of a UI designer and UX designer are becoming increasingly blurred.

 

Conclusion

 

While more businesses foray into the digital space, development teams must create UI designs that echo their target audience. A few top-end technology providers such as Focaloid Technologies have in-house UI and UX design experts that tailor-make the entire user experience while on the app or website being developed. This includes adequate ideation, alignment with the business goals and focusing on the users while defining the functionalities of the software product. A good UI design makes the software stand out among the millions of available options, helping businesses reach a wider target audience and garner a greater return on their investments. 

Published:29/02/2024

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