A website is much more than a group of pages connected by links. It’s an interface, a space where different things — in this case, a person and a company’s or individual’s web presence — meet, communicate, and affect each other. That interaction creates an experience for the visitor, and as a web designer, it’s your job to ensure that experience is as good as it can possibly be.
And the key to that is to think about your user first, foremost, and always.
A quality user interface is made up of necessary elements that are logical and concise. While you are working on the design of your interface, ask yourself “Does the user really need this to compete their task?” before adding features and content. Limit your interface to the items that are essential for the user. Don’t add items just to feed your ego, but rather, focus on the quality of the user experience.
Clarity is one of the most important attributes of any user interface. Keep in mind that your user interface exists for the sole purpose of facilitating users interacting with your system. To do this it must clearly communicate with users. If users can’t figure out how to use your interface easily they will become frustrated and abandon the experience.
With your user interface, you will want to maintain consistency throughout the entire experience. Consistent interfaces will allow your users to rely on and develop usage patterns that will improve the experience. People crave consistency and you should give your users the opportunity to be proven correct when they rely on it.
Maintain language, layout and design throughout your interface. By doing so you make it easier on your users to understand how things will work, increase their efficiency and improve the user experience.
Your interface will feel familiar if users don’t have to think how to use it because they already understand it. When users are familiar with something, they know what to expect and don’t have to think about what to do. Because of this, work to identify areas of your design where you can leverage familiarity to make interacting with your system easier for your users.
One attribute that is often overlooked but is important is a quality UI is designing your interface so that it allows users to focus on what is important. If you try to make everything look important you just create information overload and reduce the quality of the user experience. The contrast between the different sizes, colours and placements of elements should work together to give a clear understanding of your interface and what a user should do. A well designed visual hierarchy reduces the appearance of complexity and helps users accomplish their tasks.
Your user interface is how a user will get to where they want to go and do what they want to do. A quality user interface allows users to perform tasks with speed and ease, in other words, it operates with efficiency. One of the best ways to improve the efficiency of your interface is through task analysis.
When it comes to the responsiveness of an interface, you want your interface, and the system behind it, to work fast. Users easily become frustrated having to wait for a web site to load for instance.
Additionally, when you think about responsiveness you should also think about your interface responding to users. Your user interface should provide feedback to the users. Let your users know what is happening and that their effort to engage with the interface has been understood.
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