What You Need to Know about UI Design
Many people are confused by the role of a UI designer. They often equate UI design with UX design. These blurred lines make it difficult to understand where one starts and the other one ends.
It is true that both user interface design and user experience design are linked together. However, user interface design is its own field that has its own rules and purpose. The skill set required for user interface design is completely different than user experience design.
A Basic Understanding of User Interface Design
Let’s start at the beginning. What is user interface design? It is a subset of user experience design. Its goal is to give the user a positive experience when using a product or service. User interface design is what users use when they are interacting with a product.
Visual design is at the heart of user interface design. Visual interactions determine how a seeing user will interact with an app, website, or video game. This involves creating visual touch points that make it easier for the user to travel from point A to point B visually. It’s the aspect of a design that lets a user intuitively know where to touch if they want a website to perform a particular action.
A UI designer will design the screens that a user will navigate through, they will control how those screens move, and they will create the visual elements on the screen. UI designers are responsible for the interactive properties of a website or app, and they are responsible for determining what will make the interaction the easiest.
The Link between Human Behavior and User Interface Design
User interface design can only be effective if it is created with human behavior in mind. This is important because good user interface means that the user barely has to put forth any effort.
Just think about an app that you enjoy using. It is visually appealing and simple to use. When you first installed the app, you didn’t need to go through a long tutorial on how to use it. Getting from point A to point to B was just obvious.
This was no accident. This happened because the designer understood the way that the human mind works. They used things like spacing, patterns, and color to guide you as the user.
The word “intuitive” is at the heart of UI design success. The designer needs to understand the intuitive behaviors of their target users. This means that they need to empathize with their users. They need to know what their users are expecting to see at each stage of the process. This allows them to create interactive elements that respond to the user’s movements in a way that feels natural from the standpoint of the user. Experts at Adobe mention that “navigation should always be clear and self-evident. Users should be able to enjoy exploring the interface of any software product.”
An Example of User Interface Design
A simple example of user interface design can be seen when you visit a website for pet adoption. You scroll through photographs of potential pets to adopt. One catches your eye, so you click to view the gallery. A full-size image of the puppy you want to adopt takes over the screen. On the bottom, you see a caption one to five. You know there are more pictures, so you swipe through the gallery. There no instructions on how to do this, but you intuitively know that it can be done. This is the work of a UI designer.
User experience design lays out the bare-bones of how a user should feel when they use a product or service. User interface design adds muscle, flesh, and skin with the visual and interactive features that guide the user through their journey in a way that is intuitive and easy to follow.