The 7 Essential Rules of User Interface Design

User Interface Design (UI) is an emerging field that is getting more important every single day. With rapidly advancing technology, there will be a need for more customized experiences that users can relate to.

Here are the 7 rules of UI design:

1. Feedback

If users feel like the interface is communicating with them, they are more likely to use it. Feedback makes users feel confident and in control. There are three categories of visual feedback:

  1. Responsiveness: This shows the user that clickable items, such as buttons and links are indeed clickable. The feedback, such as a hover or color change should be immediate.
  2. Engagement: The visual effect engages the attention and  gives life to the static elements on the screen. If done well, the visual effect will make the user want to interact with the interface.
  3. Activity: Visual changes show that the underlying system is changing. For example, tasteful animations can help explain how the system works.

User Interface - Clarity

2. Clarity

Users will avoid interface elements that do not have clear meanings. This means have a simple design, but not too simple. For example, the updated Twitter app on Android has oversimplified its icons. This resulted in confusion and frustration to the user.

3. Proximity

User Interface - Proximity

Users expect interface elements to be directly connected to the things they control. For example, on Facebook, to change your profile picture, you click on the picture itself and immediately get the option to change it. This makes more sense than having to go into some generic settings menu to change your profile picture.

4. Defaults

Defaults often go unrecognized, but they are essential to an interface. Defaults are everywhere. Desktop backgrounds, ringtones, television settings, etc. Many people never change their defaults.

5. Guided Action

Users are more likely to complete an action, if the interface tells them to. If you want users to do something, ask them without hesitation. This includes call to actions.  The Facebook status update input says “What’s on your mind”. This choice of words prompts users to share a status with their friends.

6. Performance Load

The longer it takes for something to be completed, the less likely a user is to complete it. In this day and age, people have incredible short attention spans. They don’t have time to fill out 10 input boxes only to be transferred to another page with 5 more input boxes.

7. Constraint

Limiting user actions on a system will decrease performance load and confusion. Essentially this will result in user satisfaction and increased completion. If a website is too cluttered, people don’t know where to look or what to click. When designing an interface, it is important to present users with information, rather than making them look all over for it.