The benefits of good UI design are almost innumerable. So important is UI design to the success of a website that we might argue it is the single most important element of any web project. Forget your typography choices, your image options or your colourways. UI design is where it’s at?
But what is UI design? Put simply, it is the construction of the user interface – the UI – by which a visitor to your site navigates and interacts with your content. All elements of that interaction – from navigation bars to responsive elements, but also including how images and typography facilitate ease of use – should be included in the UI design considerations.
Of course, UI design is present in a very wide range of applications, from operating systems to aeroplane cockpits. But to focus on web UI design is to drill down quite specifically into how users engage with online material – and the ways in which designers can maximise ease of use whilst also inspiring greater adoption and return visits.
The best UI design is sleek, intuitive – and invisible. As a rule, you want your user interface to be as non-intrusive as possible: the less aware a user is of the interface, the better it is. Your focus should be on ensuring rapid access to core content – in other words to facilitating your users’ access to the information they most need. The UI shouldn’t get in the way of that; it should be the pathway, not the gate.
Let’s assume you get the UI design just right. That was a lot of work; what exactly have you got out of it all that effort? What, in fact, are the benefits of good UI design?
Again, UI design is about making it easy for your users to reach the content they need. A good UI will feature search functionality prominently – and ensure that results are relevant. Think about how you’ll tag your content to ensure that searching is free-flowing, not frustrating.
We don’t always quite know exactly what we want – and search is, after all, only as good as our key phrases. That’s where effective navigation and way-finding comes in: the better your UI, the easier it will be simply to browse your website … and find the content we need intuitively.
These days, good UI design has to be responsive. In other words, you should ensure that your site is as usable on a smartphone screen as it is on a 40” desktop monitor. Don’t neglect the impact of less horizontal space on your design!
In short, good UI design will help your website feel seamless and intuitive – and simply provide greater convenience to your users. That, in turn, will mean they spend more time on your site – and return to it more often. And that, in the end, is the greatest benefit of good UI design.
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