The purpose of this article is to discuss the basics of developing an effective user interface (UI) for a website. The goal of a user interface is to make the interaction between the user and system (whether a website, software, phone application) as easy and friendly as possible. In order to achieve this, there are some standards that every designer/developer should follow; of course, we will discuss those standards in this post.
Know Your Users
The first and foremost thing of any UI design principle is to holistically understand who the end user is. Having basic knowledge of the target audience, as well as the competition, will greatly help narrow down many decisions like color theme, fonts, and layout. The more aptly a developer/designer understands the users, the more optimal the UI becomes.
Sometimes, what a designer thinks a user needs is completely different from what the client or the business stakeholder suggests. In sensitive situations like these, it is imperative that the designer or the researcher present their findings and analysis of the users to the client to educate them on the best UI experience of the users.
One of the most crucial things to be aware of while creating or updating a website is to keep objects consistent within a website. There are many things to consider when evaluating the consistency of a website such as:
- Font type
- Font size
- Colour theme
- Alignment of the font in different pages
- Use of same quality of images throughout the website
- Same layout across pages
Another component of consistency is the standardization of buttons and pop-ups. An example of this would be using the same name for a button with similar functions through the pages (e.g. Save vs Update).
It is important to keep these consistencies in mind while designing a page, especially when a website is being updated or a new page gets added to an already existing website.
No matter what type of website you are creating, the organisation of the content within a website is equally as important as the creative aspect of it. This is especially true if there are many pages within a website. Even if the website contains relevant information, having a disorganized website will eventually frustrate the user and make them go to a different website to access the same information.
Therefore, the pages within a website should be organised in the most logical format, usually in some sort of hierarchy, to make it easy for the users to reach the desired information as quickly as possible.
The way the content is organised in explicitly leads to how intuitively a user can navigate within the website, so it should be considered very carefully.
Last but not least, the aesthetics or the look-and-feel of a website plays a significant role in giving authority and credibility to the website. However, this is one of the most versatile and wide-ranging topics to consider, so it is difficult to provide a basic standard since they are mostly driven by trend and fad.
Since the past couple of years, most websites have gone towards a more minimalistic design style which feels less cluttered and has more open space and bigger background pictures than previous generation websites.
Another trend is for websites to have parallax scrolling rather than have multiple pages. As mentioned before, these are more trends than they are principles and will change with time. The best way to get the most optimal design is to research users, the target market, and the competition.