Basic Principles of User Interface Design
Well-designed icons serve to inform users of the purpose of an app, and encourage them to download or open that app. Great icon design is important because icons frequently create the entire first impression and can affect a user’s decision to download an app or not. A badly-designed icon suggests a badly-designed app, although this may not actually be the case. On the flip side, a beautiful icon cannot save a poorly-designed app. Icon and UI (user interface) design go hand in hand when creating a great user experience. We have put together some tips for excellent app UI design.
- It is essential that the both the icon and the UI of an app are functional and accessible. An attractive icon may grab a user’s attention at first, but they are unlikely to stick with an app which is difficult or confusing to use just because the UI design is beautiful. The aesthetics of your UI should not interfere with its functionality. An unfortunate example is Apple’s new iOS 8 software, which has been designed for a larger screen and therefore makes navigating and typing various apps on the older models’ smaller screens difficult. Whether this is a rookie error or a ploy to encourage customers to upgrade to the newer model, screen size is a vital consideration in UI design, particularly when working on cross-platform apps. Apple offers its own set of basic guidelines that UI designers should be aware of when creating apps for iOS.
- As with icon design, if you are creating an app for an existing company or service, you can draw on their media design in your UI to generate brand association. This will ease the transition from physical or web-based use of the service to the app, and reinforce brand identity for the company. If you are working alongside an icon designer, discuss ideas with them to produce a coherent overall app design.
- Have the user in mind. This may seem obvious, but the needs of the user should lead your design. In the instant gratification world of the modern internet consumer, any failure to fulfill the user’s needs may lead to them giving up on your app and choosing another which is quicker and easier to use. Design the UI around the user; don’t expect them to navigate a complicated design.
- Apps for a specific group of users may choose to rely on an assumed knowledge base involving jargon and symbols representing certain functions. Exercise this technique with caution: if there’s any chance a new customer may want to use the app, slang and confusing icons will be an instant turn-off.
- Keep it simple. In order to attract the largest possible range of users, the best technique is to implement clear, simple design with easily-recognisable icons. Make it easy for experienced users to quickly achieve what they need and offer guidance for new users.