What is User Interface Design?
Broadly speaking, the user interface is the medium through which humans and machines communicate. The user sends a command to the machine, and the machine starts a process, replies with information, and gives feedback. Users can make decisions about the next action based on user feedback.
Human-computer interaction (HCI, Human Computer Interaciton) is mainly concerned with digital interfaces, that is, punching machines in the past, command lines, and graphical interfaces (GUI, Graphic Design) today.
User interface design for digital products mainly focuses on the layout, information structure, and display of interface elements on display screens and various terminal platforms. Video games and TV interfaces are also included.
△ Xerox 8010 information system in 1981 (Image credit
User interface designers create designs b2b data that meet user needs based on design principles, rather than simply providing technical solutions. In this process, it is often necessary to balance user functional requirements and display effects (determined by brand positioning and visual design).
△ B2B dashboard user interface design
Good user interface design utilizes a clear, unified visual hierarchy and content structure to guide users through tasks and reduce unnecessary content and elements.
Great user interfaces convey information through real-world symbolic metaphors, such as buttons, volume sliders, calendars, floppy-style save icons, and more.
The elements of the user interface mainly include:
Input: Allows users to make selections or enter information, including interactive components such as checkboxes, radio buttons, drop-down boxes, and text fields.
Navigation: Components for selecting destinations and filtering information, including drop-down menus, scroll bars, toasts, tabs, and pagination.
Information: Interactive elements that provide feedback to the user, including icons, text, media, progress bars, and prompts.
△ Image source
Effective designers refer to good design examples, design conventions, standards, and usability principles to ensure interface solutions meet user needs. Among the most important design principles include:
Unified interface elements allow users to quickly familiarize themselves with and master the usage method;
Clear element hierarchy and page structure allow users to see the most important content at a glance;
Use styles such as colors and fonts to indicate to the user the priority and role of elements;
Provide feedback when sending system status changes, errors, and user actions, so that users can understand the process and make next-step decisions;
Understand user preferences and demand priorities to make the operation process smoother and more natural;
Use white space and reasonable layout to make the interface clearer and easier to understand.
△ Plant watering app, image source:
The difference between user interface design and experience design
It is easy to confuse user interface design and user experience design. Although the two overlap, they each have completely different skill requirements.
User experience design focuses on the overall structure and function of the product, as well as the user experience. Compared to interface designers, experience designers focus on organizing content through information architecture and making solution decisions through user research, task testing, and business analysis. Taking the account creation and ordering process of e-commerce as an example, experience designers use user flow, experience maps, low-fidelity wireframes, and interactive prototypes to verify and optimize design concepts through user testing.
△ Apple Watch prototype animation, image source:
Third, the comparison of user interface design and experience design
The interface isn't really the solution to the product. Interface design often plays a big part in the work of an experience designer, but it's not the whole story. You can understand it this way: if the user experience is a consumable, then the user interface is a tool (a tool that uses the consumable).
User experience design is a multi-step design strategy process whose goal is to create products that are attractive, easy to use, and easy to understand. Through the process of UX design, we can get the right user interface solution.