10 tips for UI designers

The digital world is a very exciting field to be in right now. It's constantly evolving and it seems like each week there is a new and emerging framework or language being adopted making it easier to create robust applications and products. As UI designers, it's our responsibility to create a seamless and intuitive interface for users to interact with. Below are 10 principles to keep in mind.

The Fold

'The fold' or 'above the fold' was a term that was used to refer to the top half of a newspaper. It was were here that the most important or eye catching stories would be to get someone to buy the newspaper.

The same principle applies to the web, except the 'fold' is what is visible before any scrolling has happened. This is where you should be putting your high call to action items.

White Space

White space, or negative space, is the space around certain elements in design. The use of white space helps users from becoming overwhelmed. It can help to establish hierarchy, importance and action. In the digital world, users attention span is very, very low. Allow some breathing room to help facilitate a user to accomplish their goals.

Halo Effect

The definition from Wikipedia:

Halo effect is a cognitive bias in which an observer's overall impression of a person, company, brand, or product influences the observer's feelings and thoughts about that entity's character or properties

Making sure there are no hiccups in your site or application can help to establish trust for you and your future users. If a user has difficulty learning how to use something, registering, checking out, etc. they will most likely abandoned. Create a flawless journey.

Nielsen Norman Group has an excellent article that explains the impact this has on the web.

Interaction Costs

Interaction Cost is the effort and interaction a user must make to reach a certain goal. Our goal as a designer is to minimize the effort and cost.

Keeping interaction costs low can create a positive user experience and greater the chances of success. Make the journey to task simple and straight forward.

Contrast

Visual contrast in design can be applied to color, size or position. Using contrast effectively can help you achieve balance and hierarchy.

A recent tread, but seems to be dying off, is using a light font color (typically gray) on a white background. Although it may look nice and sophisticated in a photoshop file, its not very accessible on the web. Without contrast users with visual impairments will struggle reading or deciphering content on the page. Use contrast in your design to be accessible to all users - not just other designers.

Minimal(ism)

Minimal design, or minimalism, is generally referred to as a design that encompasses its most fundamental features. There is no bloat, confusion or filler. This helps users focus on the important principles. Using this approach can create a simple and intuitive experience. As Albert Einstein once said:

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

Content

Content is a powerful aspect for design. Creating engaging content is one way to keep users around. Video, images and body copy can all help to engage and create interaction with your site or product.

Content is also king when it comes to SEO. Well written content can increase your search rankings and traffic.

Color

Color is a very powerful principal and element on the web. Used correctly it can establish emotion and direction for your brand or product. In certain context it can help guide users as well, such as an invalid form submission alerted with red.

KISSmetrics has some interesting data that really shows just how powerful color can be.

Purpose

As stated before, a users' attention span is very low. According to this recent study, the average human attention span is 8.25 seconds. With the amount of information people are bombarded with on a daily basis you need to ensure that everything being presented to a user has purpose. It should be as clear and concise as possible. Every element and decision you present to a user should have a purpose.

Mobile

Last - but certainly not least - is mobile. Each and every year mobile statistics are increasing. New devices are coming out from small phones to giant TVs. Ensuring your design adapts well across a myriad of dimensions and resolutions will help keep you ahead of the game.

Try to incorporate the above mentioned. If you understand the user and their intentions you will have a better insight as to what you need to do. Be accessible. Be simple. Be creative.