Have you ever gone to a website and thought that it was confusing or difficult to navigate? Or maybe you go to an application that amazes you because it’s so simple to browse, beautiful, or intuitive. When we interact with a website or application, we don’t even realize all the thought and effort that goes into all of the elements with which we interact.
To understand all the intricacies of creating an engaging website or application, let’s start with the basics: the user interface definition.
What is a User Interface?
How can you define user interface? Accessing a website or tapping on an application, you, the user, are interacting with the interface. The user interface is the interaction between the user and a digital system or product and there are various mediums through which they interact:
When you are using this hardware, you are making contact with the user interface, which as you already know, can be wildly diverse and varied. There are an infinite amount of designs that a user interface can have, but is a user interface design made up of?
What is User Interface Design?
A lot of elements make up the software that constitute the user interface design. Some of these components include:
Design elements: everything that goes into making the website aesthetically-pleasing falls under this core element of the user interface: typography, fonts, color palette, icons, images, and other visual elements.
Input controls:when you input data or trigger actions, you are interacting with the input controls, like buttons, dropdown menus, toggles, text fields, and checkboxes.
Navigational components: to move around the website or application or even to go to another source outside of it, the user has to make contact with a navigational component: search bars, tabs, links, and breadcrumbs.
Feedback notifications: sometimes a user interface attempts to notify you of an action you have taken and when they are informing you of this feedback, they rely on elements such as messages, tooltips, progress bars, audio or visual cues, loading spinners, and other notifications.
Interactive elements: fostering engagement and interactivity is important for a user interface and that is the goal of components like hover effects, animations, and transitions.
Both UX and UI designers coordinate their efforts to create an enjoyable, intuitive experience. Although they are responsible for different elements, they need to come to an agreement on much of not only what the interface will represent and display, but also how it will connect with the user.
UX designers’ responsibilities
UX design is one half of the user interface formula and it focuses less on the visual design elements and more on the structure and flow of the design. Not only do they create and design the user flow and layout, but also gather feedback from users to see how they can further improve their designs. Their role is essential to ensure that the final product is simple, intuitive, and engaging.
UI designers’ responsibilities
On the other end, UI or user interface designers are artists that focus on aesthetic of the website or application. They want the user to interact with a pleasant experience on the page without feeling overwhelmed or confused.
UX and UI designers must collaborate on their projects so that they can fully realize the final product and ensure that they have created the most well-rounded website or application. Since their shared goal is to make the experience dynamic and engaging for the user, let’s check out some tips for UX/UI designers in their process to design a more engaging user interface.
10 Tips for Create Engaging User Interfaces
Understand your users
It is extremely important for the UX/UI design team to collect as much feedback and data as possible throughout the entire design process and to create user personas; this way, the whole team will have the most relevant data to make the right decisions.
Humans are emotional beings and when a user goes to a website or application, they are inadvertently emotionally interacting with a page. It may start off as just simply like or dislike; however, the experience can become even more emotionally charged depending on the product too. The UX/UI design team has the responsibility of creating this emotional bond through the medium of their interface through certain images or colors.
Keep it simple, clean, and consistent
Have you ever visited a website that seems loud and overly complicated? Some of us are perfectionists and that can cause us to want to do the most for the user interface and give it extra functionality.
However, it’s important to remember that customers are there to engage with the product, buy it, and continue their day. Because of that, simplicity and consistency are key points. You want to guide your customer from the homepage to the product as simply as possible.
Tell a story
In addition to emotions being something very human, a powerful story is a significant part of the human experience that has accompanied humanity since our beginning; a strong story is hard to resist, just like any book or movie. Consider some of the following questions:
Why does the application boast a color palette of red, white, and black?
How does that image relate to the mission statement on the previous page?
Why is the typography in the title different from that of the description below?
These questions are also linked to the branding and using the brand identity as guidance can help that story take shape.
Define clear user flows
You have to have a clear progression of events and possibilities that the user will experience on their path; creating straightforward user flows will help them connect with the page.
Relating back to designing a simple and clean design, clear user flows focus the user on their goals since there are no distractions that may deter them from their objective of purchasing the product. Planning the flow beforehand is essential to provide that structure to not only the design team, but also the client and users.
Employ interactive elements
There are five types of elements that appear in UX/UI design as parts of the user interface and the one that most relates to user engagement are the interactive elements. Sprinkling some of these into your user interface design can add some interactivity and spice up the user experience. Remember that these interactive elements, while engaging for the user, can also overstimulate them if abused.
Use trending designs
Sometimes the best way to enhance your own work is to look to the world for inspiration. A novel and exciting trend can be just what the doctor ordered and finding this inspiration can be as easy as looking at peers’ websites or downloading some of the most popular applications. Some trending designs in 2023 include:
Buttonless user interfaces
Big and bold typography
Augmented and virtual reality
Maximize device and cross-platform functionality
Some interface user designs don’t maximize the functionality when appearing on some devices. Ensure that the webpage or application can be used in both horizontal and vertical orientations on a cell phone or tablet.
It can be frustrating for users to turn their cell phone to the side and the layout to go bonkers and in other instances of not maximizing the device functionality, the user may feel that same frustration. Make sure that you are thinking of all the ways that users interact with these devices and across several platforms when creating these designs.
Use space smartly
Whitespace is a part of all websites and applications that may not be an element that we think of much since it is the opposite of content; however, having a balance of content to blank space is crucial to the user interface design. If there is not enough whitespace on a website or application, it can feel busy and if there is too much, then the design can feel boring.
Another important part of having this balance is to highlight and make the essential information stick out boldly. The next design you make, remember to think about not only the content, but also the whitespace.
Create intuitive navigation
Clunky websites or applications that don’t flow or need to be figured out by the user can be a drag. People want to visit the page and have a carefree, easy experience to buy the product or access the information they want and move onto their next task. Navigation between pages needs to feel natural instead of frustrating or overly complex.
For all of these tips, a great way to ensure that you’re on the right track and hitting all of these points is to ask questions on user surveys:
Does the navigation feel intuitive?
What’s the story that this website tells you?
How would you rate the simplicity of the website?
These and other questions will help confirm if the user can see how you’ve reflected these elements in the user interface.
UX and UI designers create user interface designs every day and want to maximize the experience for the user through the art and stories that they curate. If combining these two along with technical skills sounds like it’ll fill your cup, take a look at our courses page and sign up to become not just a UX/UI designer, but also an artist and storyteller.