Building a better UI starts with an understanding of the user experience. A user interface is more than simply the design, the color scheme, and the overall style of your application, although these are all very important components.
When you think of UI, you probably think of visual design elements, such as radio buttons, text input boxes, and splash screens. These are important facets of a user interface, but they do not always represent what makes UI great.
Making great user interfaces requires an intuitive understanding of the placement and presentation of your design elements. Simply copying visual design elements from other successful applications may not result in a suitable user interface for your application.
Use negative space effectively
This is because the user interface is as much about the negative space of your application. When we’re creating user interfaces, we often get lost in the visual details of design, transitions, and animations.
What’s more subtle, however, and more important, is the spacing between the visual elements. How far are the buttons from one another? Is this comfortable for the user? Instead of looking at these visual design elements separately, we have to look at them as a whole.
So while a great deal of these elements may look visually appealing, you must make sure that they make sense together. This is going to be hard to notice. It’s easy to get lost in the minutia and miss the big picture.
Wireframing is essential to UI
This is why the wireframing process is so important. When you begin sketching what your application looks like, screen by screen, you’ll be able to get a feel for its overall design. Even though the initial stages of creating your application may seem dull, these first stages are integral to creating a cohesive software product.
During these first stages, you will want to keep it as simple as you can. Wait to add any embellishments until the end of the process. These changes should be saved for the revision process. This will help give your app a more cohesive look as well.
Because you won’t be worried about creating the exact specifications of all the design elements from the very beginning, you’ll be able to concentrate on important functions of UI, such as negative space, ease-of-use, and the overall user experience.
Keep a critical eye
After you are done the wireframing for your project, revised your designs after consulting with the UX designer, and added your own embellishments, it’s time to take a break. This may seem counterintuitive, but this is an important step if you wish to build better user interfaces. In whatever way you can, you need to distance yourself from the designs you’ve created.
Because you were so close to all these designs during the entire process, the result will be difficult to analyze. You can’t see the forest for the trees.
Return to your project after a few breaks
This means you need to cleanse your palate. You won’t be able to accurately assess your designs until you take a few steps back. You may want to move onto another project, help out the UX designer with his or her tasks, or bring on an outside UI designer to help you zoom out.
After you’ve taken a break from your design process, it’s time to look at your designs with a discerning eye. The revision process is arduous and requires you to be as objective and shrewd without being overly or unnecessarily critical.
Collaborate with designers and users
Collaborating with other designers will help you reach the proper balance needed for truly constructive criticism. Great designs are never made in a vacuum — reach out to the design community, bring on a few of your co-workers or designer friends, and start brainstorming how you can make your designs better.
Finally, it’s time to turn your designs over to prospective users. After the designs are finished and your app is released to beta users, it’s time for your team to collect all the information you can.
Ask important UX design questions:
- What do users think of your designs?
- What improvements do they suggest?
- How easy did they find the application to understand and to navigate?
Take all of the input you can and use the most useful and relevant feedback to go back and improve your designs once more.
Building better user interfaces is a methodical process that requires a great deal of practice, dedication, and research. It’s possible to build better user interfaces simply by stepping back, zooming out, and looking for an overall design.
It’s important to also note that the spacing between elements, ease-of-use, and the user experience are important components that should be accounted for. When in doubt, ask your friends, colleagues, and beta testers how you can make your designs better. You’ll get meaningful feedback that will help you improve your designs.