Have you ever visited a website that made you want to throw your phone out the window? Was it because of the unappealing look, or was it challenging to navigate? Well, that was due to poor User Experience. UX/UI design is one of the main pillars for successful experiences on web and mobile apps. According to Forrester's study, a good UI can increase conversions by up to 200%, whereas a good UX can improve it by up to 400%. UX/UI design's goal is to create easy-to-use and appealing products. As always, the main focus is meeting users' needs.
There are many questions when you start to explore this field. And it's normal to feel overwhelmed! This post will walk you through UX/UI design basics. Here are also some essential topics that beginners often need clarification on. You also have the main principles you must master to create successful products.
Introduction To UX/UI Design
UX/UI is a standardized way of referring to User Experience and User Interface. It refers to the layout of digital products and how users interact with them. A good UX/UI design focuses on providing users with a seamless and intuitive experience. It ensures they can easily navigate and achieve their goals while using the product. Think of it like the design and layout of a store or the arrangement of products on a shelf. It's all about making it easy and enjoyable for people. UX/UI designers strive to create practical, desirable, and accessible products.
What is User Interface?
User Interface (UI) is the perceptible part of a product, the part with which the user interacts. UI includes menus, images, buttons, and other interactive components. It focuses on creating a logical and aesthetic layout.
User Interface (UI) Design Fundamentals
User interfaces are interaction points between users and digital products. Let’s take a look at the different types of user interfaces.
1. Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs). GUIs let users interact with systems via the manipulation of data by using visuals.
2. Command Line Interfaces (CLIs). Command Line Interface is a text-based interface that allows system manipulation through commands. GUIs and CLIs are among the most common formats of user interfaces. However, the following two are becoming increasingly popular:
3. Voice-Controlled Interfaces (VCIs). Voice UI processes a human's natural language and responds to requests and commands. Some examples include the well-known Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant. Yet, there’s also Microsoft Cortana and Samsung Bixby.
4. Gesture-Based Interfaces. Users use motion and touch-based gestures to interact with products.
User Interface (UI) Design Principles
Some of the essential UI Design principles widely accepted by experts include:
1. Simplicity. A simple and intuitive interface ensures quick and efficient task completion. That increases user satisfaction and engagement.
2. Consistency. Consistent is when the interface has the same look and feel across screens and features. This way, visual elements, interactions, and behaviors harmonize. Users gain a sense of predictability and familiarity from consistency. Therefore, learning and using the interface is easier for them. On top of that, consistency is critical to building brand awareness.
3. Contrast. It draws attention to essential elements on the page by using colors and font sizes. Contrast can also state relationships between different pieces of information. Using color gradients helps to create a sense of depth within the UI.
4. Hierarchy. Hierarchy helps to understand the order to follow when doing tasks within the app. It provides users with a sense of structure, making navigation easier.
5. Prevention. UI designers must always consider the possibility of user error and limit its impact. One of the most important aspects of UI design is ensuring usability. Users need to be able to get the information they want or complete the desired task quickly.
6. Feedback. Feedback involves providing clues about the interaction between the user and the system. It applies from visual cues like color changes to haptic feedback.
User Interface (UI) Designer Tasks
UI designers' role is to create appealing and intuitive UIs. They look to integrate UX design principles with UI design best practices. UI designers must understand all aspects of a product's design. Here are some of their duties:
1. Creating wireframes to map out the user interface and layout of the design.
2. Building interactive prototypes to test and improve the user interface design.
3. Conducting User Research to understand the needs and preferences of the target audience.
4. Creating visual design elements such as icons, typography, color schemes, and graphics.
5. Collaborating with developers and product managers to ensure seamless experiences.
6. Creating design systems and style guides to ensure consistency.
7. Understanding accessibility requirements.
Based on the above-mentioned UI Designers’ tasks, there are some needed skills to start your journey as a UI Designer. While there are prominent soft skills, like Critical and Design Thinking, and Communication and Teamwork skills, hard skills for designers include Interaction Design knowledge, proficiency with Photoshop, Illustrator, or Sketch tools, and prototyping wireframing skills with tools like Figma and InVision.
What is User Experience?
User Experience describes users' feelings toward a product. Consider a restaurant's atmosphere, menu, and service: they all provide a unique experience! A product's design, functionality, and ease of use create an exceptional experience. It can be positive or negative. However, everything entails meeting the user's needs and expectations. A good user experience will be easy to navigate, visually appealing, and intuitive. Otherwise, a product with poor UX can be confusing, frustrating, or difficult to use.
User Experience (UX) Design Principles
1. User-Centered Design. Meeting users' needs and expectations must be the primary focus.
2. User-control. Users must be able to perform any action to accomplish their goals.
3. Context. UX designers must understand the essence of users and the product.
4. Speed. It's one of the UX most-affecting factors. Fast loading speed is fundamental.
5. Responsiveness. Elements must be visible across different devices.
6. Usability Testing. It’s vital to ensure products can achieve users' goals before launching.
User Experience (UX) Designer Tasks
In essence, the role of UX designers is to ensure that products meet users' needs. In this manner, products should also achieve business goals. Here are some of the tasks they do daily to accomplish that.
1. Creating personas for different user types.
2. Identifying the problems that need solving.
3. Test prototypes with users in A/B environments.
4. Refine UI designs based on feedback.
5. Usability Testing to assess the effectiveness and identify improvement.
6. Creating a balance between business objectives and users’ needs.
7. Collaborating closely with developers.
Creating enjoyable and intuitive UX also requires a unique combination of skills. While it shares the same soft skills as UI designers, the role also needs to know about Storytelling, Data Analysis, Critical ThinkingProblem-solving capabilities.
Conclusion & Key Takeaways
UX and UI design are two disciplines that have an essential role in software development. UX design leans toward the ability to create aesthetic visuals and graphics. On the other hand, UI design focuses on solving users' problems through software. Together, these two can do wonders for digital projects and products! Keep both at the same priority level to stand out.