Fundamental Principles of UI Design

User interface design or user interface engineering is the design of computers, appliances, machines, mobile communication devices, software applications, and websites with the focus on the user’s experience and interaction.

Where traditional graphic design seeks to make the object or application physically attractive, the goal of user interface design is to make the user’s interaction as simple and efficient as possible, in terms of accomplishing user goals.

  1. The Principle of User Profiling:
    You need to “Know who you users are.” Before we can answer the question “How do we make our user-interfaces better”, we must first answer the question: Better for whom? A design that is better for a technically skilled user might not be better for a non-technical businessman or an artist.
  2. The Principle of Metaphor:
    Borrow behaviors from systems familiar to your users.
  3. The Principle of Feature Exposure:
    Let the user see clearly what functions are available
  4. The Principle of Coherence:
    The behavior of the program should be internally and externally consistent
  5. The Principle of State Visualization:
    Changes in behavior should be reflected in the appearance of the program
  6. The Principles of Shortcuts:
    Provide both concrete and abstract ways of getting a task done
  7. ThePrinciple of Focus:
    Some aspects of the UI attract attention more than others do.
  8. The Principle Grammar:
    A user interface is a kind of language, know what the rules are
  9. The Principle of Help:
    Understand the different kinds of help a user needs
  10. The Principle of Context: Limit user activity to one well-defined context unless there’s a good reason not to.
  11. The Principle of Aesthetics:
    Create a program of beauty
  12. The Principle of User Testing:
    Recruit help in spotting the inevitable defects in your design
  13. The Principle of Humility:
    Listen to what ordinary people have to say

Above are the underlying principles of user design and have been around for a while now (it’s nothing new). For me its important to stick to the basic concepts and plan out your interface well in advance.

The good news is nowadays UI designers are well sought out for as many companies have realized that the data stores for any given application or website should remain consistent. The fact that your presentation layer keeps changing with different functionality for different clients thrusts UI designers into a whole new level of importance.

Whats funny here is that while I was writing this post I was called by a colleague for prospective UI Design work. Talk about ironic.

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