The 7 Commandments of Effective UI/UX Design- Learn to Upskill
Design is the most important element of any product, even more so for websites specifically. If you’re keen on exploring the basics of UI/UX design and steer clear of the misconceptions related to it, you’ve come to the right place. With this article, we aim to answer basic questions about UI/UX design and how you can improve your skills as a UI/UX designer. Let’s start with the difference between the two:
1. UI vs UX design- the meaning & difference
The people in the creative world are big on using complex & technical words. Sometimes it gets you curious, and sometimes it is off-putting. UI simply refers to User Interface. Before you get overwhelmed, let me tell you that it is literally what it says- the user interface refers to the elements that you see on the website. The purpose of UI is to represent the UX. The subscribe buttons or the images or even the logos are put in certain places to make the user’s experience better.
This brings us to the next question (probably much easier to answer)- ‘what is UX design?’. To put it simply again, UX design refers to User Experience design. Again, it means exactly what it says. It is about designing the experience or the journey of a user through the website or the app. Basically, UX is a human-first way of designing a website or an app.
A skilled designer is one who understands & maps out a user’s journey before the UI designing kicks off. UI is after a part of user experience.
This brings us to the next point.
2. Buyer Persona- user's habits vary with devices
The point of any effective design is to be ‘human-first’. Human-first here refers to user-first. It should come as no surprise that the user’s comfort & ease of accessibility lies at the heart of good & successful UI/UX design. This means user research should be a priority. Building a buyer persona helps understand the preferences & priorities of users. It helps focus on benefits to the users rather than features.
Building a buyer persona is in fact an integral part of producing any form of content, as it builds perspective/empathy.
3. Being Responsive & Adaptive
Modern-day users are spread across devices, locations, cultures and are much diverse.
Most product owners & UI/UX designers focus on adding features to make the lives of users easier. But stuffing too many features only makes usage complicated for users.
“You've got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.”
The point of knowing users is to give them what they want. Much of what Steve Jobs said (above) refers to design. Observing user behaviour and being prepared to be responsive & adaptive is a good way to go about it. Most designers go with what we like to call a ‘split test’.
Sometimes if a designer is divided between two or more UI/UX designs, they test them all on their audience and see the results before making a final decision- i.e. being willing to adapt. This is also an integral part of knowing the audience and upskilling as a UI/UX designer.
Here, I’ll leave you with this little nugget:
“User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”
– Don Norman, Cognitive Scientist & User Experience Architect
P.S. The average human attention span is about 8 seconds. So every design must be clear, lucid and have minimal functions on every screen.
4. The Adaptive Process
Every discipline has a set of functions or defined processes, but in design, nothing is set in stone. This is in fact the reason that UX design exists as a profession- mapping user behaviour to provide a convenient experience. The general process of UI/UX design begins with identifying a problem- this is where the product/website/app definition starts.
5. The Prototype
One of the most dangerous mistakes that organisations/companies/designers can make especially while making a digital product is skipping to the actual product without making a prototype. It is an integral part of knowing the user or user research. As a designer or the product owner it is easy to ignore some critical user-end perspective but testing the prototype can be a good reality-check. If you’re out of time, rapid prototyping might be a good idea to speed things up.
6. Simple Interface
The most distinctive feature of a well-designed website or app (any digital product) is the simplicity in its design. The lack of need to read instructions to know how to use it. It’s a designer’s job to make sure that the design guides the user through the product and makes it an effortless experience. This brings us back to understanding the user or knowing the buyer persona.
Improving the user experience from a UI/UX designer’s perspective is a relentless pursuit as your understanding of the users evolves along with the users themselves. It is also about maintaining consistency across screens and pages in design to keep the user engaged.
7. Building Recall
Human memory may be limited in some aspects and that’s what makes building a brand or design recall a difficult endeavour. This is the reason why brands like UPS, John Deere & T-Mobile have trademarked colours. The general idea is that whenever the person comes across a particular colour, they will think of the brand.
Another aspect of building a recall is minimising the cognitive load by making information and interface functions visible and easily accessible.
Upon first look these commandments may seem fairly obvious, but it is easy to slip deep into the product itself (it’s even possible to get obsessed) and ignore the goal, that is the user. So bookmark this one and come back to it every time you’re looking to solve a UI/UX design problem.