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The 4 Most Crucial Elements of UI Design

Think about the things you interact with daily, your phone, your computer, even your fridge. All of these devices have something in common they all have a User Interface. Nowadays, you’re more likely to see new forms of UI design than you are to encounter new species of flowers.

UI Design in our everyday life
UI design is everywhere

But why does this matter? UI design is how we create the medium in which users interact with our websites, emails, and platforms. Think of the buttons and fonts on the web page, as well as the text color and presentation of your sign-up screen.

If these aspects of your User Interface fall short, users won’t want to continue using it. A good UI design can help your website retain users. It can help you achieve higher conversion rates and pass more traffic through your pages.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s backpedal a bit and go back to the basics.

What is a User Interface (UI)?

The user interface is the visual representation and access point that your users interact with. When you visit the Amazon website, you will see the product categories, item previews, and the checkout button. All of these form part of the UI design.

Examples of UI Design
Ui design in different formats

The elements described above are the surface-level features that your users will constantly utilize. Every time they look at your website to buy something, they’re using your UI. Every time they look at your about us page? UI. Every time they bounce from article to article? UI. Every time they use your service, they are using your UI.

User interface design is the process of crafting these buttons, graphics, and transitions. Understanding what your target audience is and crafting a suitable interface for them. If your target audience is an older demographic, you wouldn’t want to fill your interface with loud and abrasive colors. You would keep things calm and straightforward. Make sure only to highlight the important links and buttons.

The Crucial Elements of UI Design

When learning anything, it’s much easier to understand when you break it down. The same is true when we talk about learning UI design.

So without further ado, let’s go over the 4 crucial elements of UI design!

1. Readability and Usability

As important as catching a user’s attention is, you must also make sure they enjoy using your interface. Or at the very least, they don’t mind using it. The visual aspects of your UI are meant to capture the attention of the user. But this cannot be your sole focus.

Usability is the most important step in designing a User Interface. A simpler easy to use system will always draw more users.

This can easily be seen in iPhone vs. Android. Androids offer much more customization and freedom to personalize your phone. This is contrasted by the iPhone’s simpler and easy-to-use interface. Their UI is designed to be understood at a glance.

A map of iPhone usage vs Android usage
iPhone vs. Android usage by state

Despite Androids giving users more options, they still lose out in sales across the US to Apple. At the end of the day, it’s because iPhone has better readability and usability.

2. Form follows Function

Like in many practices involving design, UI design also adheres to the rule of “form follows function.” Your UI’s form or layout should be based on the purpose it is serving. Users gravitate toward simple and easy-to-understand UI.

So before designing any User Interface, ask yourself the following:

  • What is the purpose of this UI?
  • What is the target audience?
  • Is it easy to navigate?
  • Does it achieve your goal?
Unclear UI design vs Clear UI design
Unclear UI design vs. Clear UI design

The last thing you want is for a user to get frustrated while using your UI. Your UI should make it simple and easy for a user to achieve their intended goal.

Using these questions, we can create a more effective User Interface. Understanding your target audience and the goal of your UI design is the most important first step in creating a UI that users love.

3. Accessibility

If you take one thing away from this article, let it be Accessibility.

Accessibility is the core of UI design. Pretty buttons, targeted articles, and eye-catching newsletters are all great, but if they aren’t easily accessible, what good are they?

Gif of Stripe homepage
Stripe’s accessible webpage menu

A good UI design is easy to use across the board. Transitioning from one page to another shouldn’t feel like switching from a car to a horse. Keep the look and feel of your UI consistent across all platforms and pages.

Consistency is key to making sure users don’t get confused. If you keep your web pages simple and clean, users will have no problem getting what they need and returning for more.

4. Size and Color

Two huge aspects of UI design are the size and color of the UI.

When a user opens a webpage or an article, their eyes are immediately drawn to two things. Contrasting colors and large shapes. Because of this, it’s important to emphasize the parts of your website you want users to interact with using size and shape.

A red flower in a field of white flowers.
Using color to draw your attention

If the main color of the web page is blue, you can give the checkout button an accent color like yellow, as long as it stays within the parameters of the brand identity. If you want to promote popular articles, then make them bigger! It’s all about drawing the attention of the user.

With these aspects, you can create a page that easily navigates a user’s gaze. Highlighting the website's most important features and driving traffic toward those key areas.

How UI Design fits in UX Design

At the end of the day, UI design is just one aspect of a bigger picture. It is only one element of UX design that contributes to the user’s overall experience when they interact with your website.

Venn diagram of aspects that make up UX design
UI design is part of a larger whole

Join us as we break down and explain UX design and why it is a crucial aspect of the success of any business.

Let’s talk.

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By
Rodrigo Amarillas
On
May 24, 2021
6
min read