User experience (UX) is now considered paramount to good modern design. And this means that a user interface (UI) has to be designed to be easily accessible, clean, and functional. But that isn’t always as easy as it sounds. When dealing with user experience, you need to understand both the psychology and the needs of the user. It isn’t always obvious what a user will find difficult or what tasks they will prioritize. Here are a few UX/UI best practices that you can start implementing today.
Consistency is Key
When users say that an interface is “intuitive,” what they really mean is that it’s easy to predict the behavior of the interface from their prior interactions. In other words, the interface is consistent. The more consistent an interface is, the easier users will find it to complete complex tasks that they haven’t completed before. That means there needs to be a hierarchy of commands, that sections need to be well-organized, and that all of the formatting of the UI should follow the same internal templates.
Keep It Simple
Simplicity is often what separates casual designers from the best of designers. Simplicity is difficult to achieve because it means that more needs to go under the hood. Consider Siri, Cortana, and Google Voice: all of these functions are the “new wave” of UX/UI, which makes it far easier for users to communicate directly with an interface. Behind all of these voice-activated personal assistants is an extremely complex, AI-driven backend, that has to be able to contextualize and interpret a user’s needs. Essentially, the user experience needs to be simple… but this doesn’t mean that the programming behind it is.
Understand the User
Users are generally trying to accomplish their tasks as quickly as possible. They want an interface that will facilitate, not hinder, them. Websites and applications need to be designed to be quickly scanned, without complex or difficult to understand elements. Ideally, the amount of clicks a user needs to take to complete an action should always be reduced to an absolute minimum. The longer it takes for a user to complete an action, the more likely they are to simply abandon an application altogether.
Of course, UX/UI isn’t all about function. It’s also about form. There are certain applications that are simply eye-catching, “clean” and beautiful. This usually comes into play more with websites than applications. A single quirky or unique attribute to a website keeps it fresh and unique. Multiple eye-catching or “different” characteristics are going to become muddled and confusing. It’s worth it to spend some time considering the elements of design that most convey the application’s purpose and brand, and to pare down to one or two interesting aspects.
With the advent of UX/UI as a discipline of its own, many companies have begun hiring specialists rather than general designers. If you’re currently in the design field, it can be to your benefit to learn more about UX/UI, to grow into your industry. Software Specialists has a wide range of open positions within the tech field, including everything from developers to designers. Take a look at these job listings now if you’re interested in broadening your scope as a designer.