User Interface

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Definition

The term user interface encompasses all the ways in which an individual user and a computer system are able to interact.

User interface is also commonly referred to as UI. It refers to the means by which a user is able to control a web page, an app, or a technological hardware device. This includes different types of software, different integrations within a product, as well as input devices (such as a keyboard).

Most user interfaces involve the usage of both input devices and software. A great example of the combination of these tools is the navigation of an app, where users are required to use a touchscreen or a phone text keypad to navigate the software element of the site’s user interface.

Typically, different programs, browser types and operating systems all feature a number of common user interface elements. For example, the majority of browsers all feature a similar menu bar. This means that users do not need to relearn the rules of each interface every time they visit a new website.

A standard graphical user interface software program will include the key features of a menu bar, buttons, controls, and a toolbar.

What is user interface design?

User interface design is the creative process of building interfaces for new pieces of software, applications or technological devices. As they build the interfaces, designers will need to remain mindful of the end user’s perspective, in order to create a successful interface which is easy to use.

The aim is to create a user-friendly interface, which the visitor can operate in a way that largely comes naturally to them.

This type of software design requires designers to place a focus on predicting the needs of the future user, so that an experience can be created which is intuitive, immersive, personalized to fit this unique user requirement, and enjoyable to use.

Often, UI designers will create a customer journey map to help them achieve a better understanding of how the mind of customers works, and so create an interface that fits well with this typical usage pattern.

Common types of UI include: graphical (GUI), voice-controlled (VUI), and gesture-based (such as virtual reality UI).

How can you improve your user interface?

The most successful user interfaces are considerate of the following elements, as it is these traits which determine how happy the end user is with their experience of an interface:

  • The usability of the software - how easy is it to use, and how easy is it for a visitor to complete the task that they need this device or website page in order to achieve.
  • How intuitive the interface is - the design should provide a great, seamless experience. When using the interface, it should make the specific intended use of the device or website page quick and easy to achieve.
  • How enjoyable the interface is for users to use. This should also include a process of mobile optimization.
  • Any potential areas where the user could be frustrated or irritated will need to be rectified.
  • The usage of entertaining additions - for example, through gamification - could be considered.
  • How successfully the brand’s values have been communicated.
  • A design that connects with the customers on an emotional level. Often, customers are drawn to brands that communicate feelings, emotions and an experience to them.

These traits can be considered and applied to a UI in a number of different ways. For example, any buttons that are included should be predictable in their actions and easy to identify. The interface design should be simple and it should feel almost ‘invisible’ when visitors are using it. Ideally, this would be the point where the interface feels so instinctive that users are almost unaware that they are being guided by the interface to perform certain actions.

User Interface Example

Looking at the Seobility TF*IDF tool web page, you can see how the UI has been designed to clearly communicate the tool’s purpose, and the keyword search function is easy to locate.

You should also consider the use of clear and sharp layouts, alignments, colours and contrasting within the interfaces. Furthermore, one page should hold one predominant function, in order to minimise any confusion. These methods of drawing the viewer’s attention to specific features and functions will help the usage of the interface to feel natural and instinctive.

How do UX and UI relate to each other?

These two terms are designed to be highly related, as both elements are a key consideration within the design process of any new piece of software or application.

The work surrounding user interface design is, overall, more focused on the cosmetic side of a specific asset (such as a website or app). User interface pertains to the design and surface elements of the product.

Whereas measurements of UX will focus on all elements of the user’s experience of a company’s app or website. This encompasses a wide variety of factors (including customer assistance services and page speed), in order to gain a sense of how likely the customer is to enjoy using this product.

It is imperative that these two creative processes are done in collaboration, as a successful website requires the visual and the functional elements of the site to work together harmoniously. An example of an element that uses both UI and UX would be a customer offer, as it needs to be bold and enticing, while being easy for the customer to apply to at the checkout.

Importance for Online Marketing

With websites, the job of a UI designer is to create a web page which not only looks attractive, but where all of the content is well aligned and clearly relates to everything else on the page. This includes all of the site page’s visual elements like icons, links, buttons and any other interactive features. In order to build successful, well-designed user interfaces, the layout of the pages need to be stylish, intuitive and clearly laid out.

By creating an intuitive user interface, marketers can ensure that visitors gain a positive impression of the company. In addition, by making it easier to use the website, far more customers will be able to complete the intended user journey and make a purchase.

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