8 Rules of Good UI Design
⏱ Reading Time: 9 minutes
UI design is constantly changing and evolving. Some trends are here to stay and will prevail over the years. Some design principles, on the other hand, are reaching the end of their lifespan, ready to be replaced with new user-centric tactics. Needless to say, modern UI design is all about the user and matching their expectations. But, it’s also about guiding the user towards a specific outcome, or a set of outcomes. After all, the modern user wants flexibility and freedom, but also professional guidance and support from their brands.
This means that your approach to UI design for your website or app needs to be flexible yet thought-out. In fact, it needs to be organized to the last button and letter on every page. Especially if you want to maximize user engagement and satisfaction. Fortunately, there are numerous ways you can achieve this. That’s why today we are taking a look at the most important rules of good UI design. These rules will enhance your development process and help you achieve your business goals.
How to Provide Good UI Design
Accessibility Should Be a Priority
Probably the first thing you think about when strategizing about your new app or website is how it’s going to look. What colors and font you’re going to use, and other aesthetic features might come to mind. This is a normal process, as we tend to gravitate towards aesthetic design features first. But, what you actually need to prioritize in the initial stages is accessibility. Accessibility as a UI concept is something that business leaders tend to think about when the app or the website is already rolled out into the market. They tend to take it into consideration only after the first problems have occurred.
However, any experienced designer should know that making everything the user might want and need readily accessible throughout the site or app should be a priority from the very start. The last thing you want is:
- For the customer to not know how to reach your help center,
- Where to find certain pages and information,
- Or how to contact you quickly and seamlessly.
Make sure that all accessibility buttons are easy to find, and you will have no problem ensuring a better experience.
Picture 1. What is accessibility?
Ensure Consistency Across the Design
It should go without saying and yet we need to stress this next part. Consistency is one of the key pillars of successful UI design for modern applications and websites. This includes the visual design elements and the copy on every page. It includes how your brand is presented across the site or your app, as well. You have to make sure that the design boasts a consistent look through and through. Why? Because the slightest inconsistencies may negatively affect UX. Inconsistency may also alienate people, and make customer onboarding that much more difficult in the long run.
If nothing else, a sloppy design portrays a sloppy brand image to the world. And as you may know, nobody wants to work with a company that looks unprofessional. Whether you’re selling services or products, consistency in UI will inspire trust in your users. It will also incentivize them to make a positive decision.
- Make sure that all fonts are the same or from the same branch.
- Use consistent visual elements and design schemes for all photos and icons.
- Make sure that the design is consistent across iOS, Android, and desktop and mobile platforms.
Picture 2. Responsive and adaptive design
Pay Special Attention to Content Trends
One of the most important elements of amazing UI design is not the visual appeal but the content. Devising a winning content strategy that complements UI is paramount to success. You have to know exactly what type of content to focus on and where to put it. You need to know how to implement it, and how to organize it on every page. Most importantly, you need to know how to make it as appealing to the user as possible. To achieve all of this, you have to stay on top of the latest content trends.
If you are to analyze the findings on this detailed content marketing timeline and focus on future trends, you will notice that the future prioritizes chatbots and AI. What’s more, the future prioritizes visual content and search, as well as in-depth written content. Using these trends to your advantage, you can implement AI-driven features into the design. This will help deliver more personalized content to your users. You’ll also be able to emphasize visual content that’s easy to digest. Lastly, you’ll be able to place your long-form content on a separate page with powerful CTAs. This will lead to your content from other parts of your site or app.
Be Clear, Concise, and Guide Your Users
If there is anything that never fails to drive people away, it’s cluttered design. While you don’t need to go full minimalist on your UI strategy, you should still retain a semi-minimalist approach. This will bring clarity and consistency to your design. Most importantly, this will allow you to guide your users to the desired outcome. Whether that is to inspire them to buy something, recommend you to others, check out your learning center, or anything in between.
Using design thinking can help you achieve the level of clarity in your design that you’re after. You need to get into the minds of your users to identify their emotional and rational needs. The modern user needs the design to spark an emotional connection, So, making your values and core messages stand out is vital.
Picture 3. Design thinking
Secondly, your users invariably want to be free to explore your site or app. However, they don’t want to be left alone in this process. Your job is to guide them along their journey, and you can do this with:
- Pop-up tutorials,
- Explainer videos,
- Dedicated written content,
- Universally recognized icons and pictograms, and the like.
Provide Real-Time Feedback to Your Customer
Speaking of users that want and need your guidance, you should never let them feel like nothing is happening. Your website or app needs to be dynamic and responsive at every turn. Something needs to be happening at all times to keep the user engaged. After all, we get bored very quickly when everything is standing still.
Now, that doesn’t mean that you need to create a never-ending slideshow on every page. It does mean, however, that you should provide continuous, real-time feedback for everything the user does.
For example, the design elements should react to the movements of their mouse cursor. The icons should react when pressed on a smartphone. You can achieve this easily within your design suite with subtle yet powerful pre-built animations. Always remember that the design needs to respond to the user and not make them feel like nothing is happening.
Use Recognizable Icons to Minimize Recall
We mentioned universally recognized design elements, and now we are going to expand on the point and emphasize their importance. In UI design, there is a concept of recognition vs recall. This basically means that some UI elements are easily recognized and have a function that’s clear to every user. Some elements and design choices are more complex, however. These require the user to stop and think for a bit what they might represent.
As you might have guessed, your goal should be to minimize the latter and maximize the former. Your users should always recognize all design elements like buttons and interactive objects without giving them a second thought. This brings clarity and familiarity to the entire design. On the other hand, if you make your own icons and other elements that deviate from the standard (like using a different icon for search instead of a magnifying glass), you risk completely confusing the user. And confusion, as you know, leads to churn.
Pick and Stick to the Essential Movement Patterns
If the entire world is used to scrolling, why would you ever make an app that forces the user to click to get to the next page? If the majority of users prefer quick-scrolling with the mouse wheel, would you ever disable that function on your site? Of course you wouldn’t, and that is a very important design rule to remember throughout the production process.
Users are used to moving about a webpage or an app in a certain way, and they don’t like to be forced to do it in any other way. So, your design needs to complement the patterns of their muscle memory. Make sure to think carefully about:
- Menu interactions
and other elements to create a movement pattern that minimizes user effort and is intuitive to boot.
Build a Winning Elemental Hierarchy
The last rule you need to keep in mind that will ensure your UI is on point is to keep everything neatly organized within an overarching elemental hierarchy. This is a hierarchy of all UI elements on the web page or in your app. A hierarchy that creates order, facilitates intuitive movement and browsing, eliminates clutter, and boosts user experience. This is how you ensure a customer-centric approach.
Make sure that the most important elements appear at the top of every page. Emphasize the value proposition for the user and capture their attention with:
- Catchy headlines,
- Beautiful visuals,
- A streamlined design.
Use colors and contrasts to achieve the effect of content prioritization. Include visual elements that reduce in size as people continue to scroll in order to give a sense of order.
Nowadays, the design of your app or website should be geared towards the needs of the user. Otherwise, it fails to keep up with the best-performing designs on the market – there is no in-between. Using these UI design tips to your advantage will allow you to craft a digital product that resonates with the users. What’s more, it may even surpass anything your competitors might roll out in the future.
Lauren is a regular Bizzmark Blog author that has many articles published with the main focus on clients who want their brands to grow in the fast-changing and demanding market. Her personal favorites are successes of small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs. She goes through life with one strong moto – Kindness, always.
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