What is UI?
A User Interface (UI) is the medium through which a user connects with the hardware or the software.
When a user interacts with a hardware or a software to complete a desired action, they need to input a certain data. This data input can happen in numerous ways; sometimes the said product can require the user to write a specific line of code but in most cases, the data input happens through a graphical UI.
User Interfaces are usually designed as simple as possible, clicking and drag&drop are the main actions behind most interfaces.
The first computers hardly had any interface, and rather than making them more understandable, users needed to understand how computers worked, and write multiple lines of code for the computer to function.
The UI as we know it today has first been mentioned in 1968 by Douglas Engelbart with NLS with the introduction of mouse, tabs, hypertexts, etc.
Graphical UIs made their way into our lives in 1984 with Apple’s Macintosh. Today, from machines in factories to cloud-apps, every product comes with a distinct UI that can help us distinguish them from each other.
Why does UI matter?
A User Interface is what a user experiences regarding a product. No matter how many lines of code are included, a user will only know the menu and the buttons.
Since the UI is the only thing users see, how it appears and functions is extremely important. First off, if it looks good, users will be more interested to use it more.
Second, if it functions just how it’s supposed to function, users will easily achieve the value they are promised.
If a product has a bad UI, number of unwanted incidents may occur.
For starters, it will not be appealing to the eye. When comparing a product to its alternatives, the beauty and professionalism in the UI is instinctively a differentiator. This can affect a product’s conversion rates.
Also, if the UI is not user-friendly, users will have a hard time navigating around the product and achieving success. This can end up in churn en-masse.
How can you design a good UI?
To design the best UI possible, one needs to establish what type of product they’re preparing the interface for, who the users are, and what tools are available to them.
First off, what does the product do? The product one is designing the UI for could be a wood-cutting machine, or a social media management app. It can extremely vary. The type of the product determines what kind of style and processes you can include in it.
The identity of users is also important when designing a UI. Every great designer has the end-user in mind when designing a product, so if the empathy is lacking design will not reach its potential. The key point here is communication; are the elements you have designed aligning with the motivations of the users, also with their values and demographics? One would not design a black and white UI for a youth app, for example.
The tools at your disposal usually depend on you, if there aren’t much limitations to what you can use at the project. Selecting tools that one can collaborate with the client and the team is a must.