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2014: 5 Commandments of Superior User Interface Design

17th August 2014

For the common user of technology the first experience with a user interface (UI) is likely to have been on a Windows based machine, or more recently an Apple or Android mobile device. Every one of these environments has its pluses and minuses as it relates to UI design, and it is no surprise that many customers tend to prefer a machine based primarily on UI, once the effects of the companies’ slick marketing campaigns wear off. Considering the importance of UI design to a software package’s overall success, here we will take a look at the 5 commandments of UI design.

  1. You Shall Not Bore the End User. All too often UIs are functional, but just plain boring. Perhaps the graphics are old and outdated, or the color scheme is wrong. Maybe the buttons could use some sprucing up. If Steve Jobs taught us anything, it’s that design matters. Use colors, customized graphics, interesting sounds, and rich textures to create a true user atmosphere, as opposed to just creating an interface. And, as an added bonus, this study proves that the end user is actually more likely to link the UI’s aesthetic qualities with its overall functionality. In other words, beauty is functional.
  2. You Shall Not Make a Mess. The next commandment of designing a successful user interface is to ensure that you do not make a mess of things. Customers expect a program’s UI to be well organized and intuitive. Buttons should be placed and arranged in a manner which will allow the customer to more or less feel his or her way through the program. A good way to ensure this is to have non-tech savvy friends and family members (or other testers) test the UI’s overall layout in terms of organization and intuitive flow and provide feedback. When it comes to mobile app design simplicity and the intuitive factor rule the day.
  3. You Shall Not Forget the Interface’s Core Purpose. What is the purpose of the user interface of the mobile app you are developing? That is a question you should not only have answered a million times before, at every step of the development of your app, but it is also a question which should continue to guide the design of your app’s UI. Questions such as whether or not you desire the user to intuitively find certain parts of the app’s architecture easier than others and just how much time you desire the user to spend using the app will help determine the UI’s overall layout.
  4. You Shall Not Wing It. One of the most tempting, and completely wrongheaded, decisions unqualified software developers – and companies ordering software such as mobile apps – can do is to believe that they can create a rich user interface environment without the help of professionals. Underestimating the complexity of the job, and the expertise, time, and commitment needed to create a world-class user interface, is one way to bog down the app’s development and put the entire job in jeopardy.
  5. You Shall Not Overlook the User’s Core Motivations. Human beings are not all the same. Some of us interact with the world in a more hedonistic fashion, while others prefer a more utilitarian method of interaction. This distinction even trickles down into how we interact with technology. When developing your app’s user interface there are a couple of ways your company can incorporate this realization. Either an interface can be developed which attempts to satisfy both constituencies, or you can develop a UI which is tailored to the group which is most likely to download and use that particular app.

Squareball Studios (SBS), is a creative, design, and development agency of mobile applications and software systems. SBS has helped develop solutions for Fortune 500 companies and partnering with startups on initial ideas and seeing them succeed.

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