Top 10 Website User Interface Best Practices
Simplicity is at the core of great user-friendly interfaces. However, do not confuse simplicity with primitive, plain, or ordinary. Simple means that it is clear, intuitive, and solves the customer’s pain points in the most efficient way possible. A simple design saves time and effort, and it leaves the user with a positive feeling of having met their needs, as many user interface design companies have proved.
Here are ten ways in which you can make sure your design does all this with elegant simplicity:
People want to peruse before buying or using. Even when you are at a bookstore, you will check the back of the book, open it up, and skim through the pages, noticing the font size, paper quality, weight, and other qualities that will make you decide on the book. When users log into a website, the first thing they will do is scan the page too. Check what buttons, windows, sections it has—just making themselves comfortable.
Scalability and user behaviors are essential in the UI design area where specialized groups focus on researching users’ behaviors and providing data and meaningful insights to designers. One of these research groups is the Nielsen Norman Group. For years they have analyzed how user’s use and read websites. Understanding how people skim through pages, whether in a Z-format or an F-format, will guide you towards the best design and information layout for your site and users. This thought-out visual hierarchy will save your users time and energy when accessing your page.
Thanks to research, we understand how users scan websites, so we know that the header section will be one of the page’s most essential and high visibility parts. Knowing that users’ attention will be focused on this area, it is imperative to gauge which links and sections should be highlighted. Since the header will be the first thing that users notice, it becomes a strategic area, and it will guide and provide initial information to the user about what to read and look for. However, it should be attractive and concise so the reader can know everything it needs to know in just a few seconds.
Some ideas to consider for the header section:
- Basics of brand identity: logo, slogan, company statement, etc.
- Headline setting the theme of the website.
- Essential category of contents (links).
- Social media accounts (links).
- Basic contact information.
- Search field.
- Buttons to interact (subscription, buy here, download here, etc.).
- Basic settings (change language, dark mode, etc.).
Of course, these are suggestions to be considered and then adapted to your website and your needs. If you add them all, you might overload the page, making it counterproductive. Always think strategically and have your target audience and business goal at the heart of your decisions.
Branding is much more than just a logo; it is the whole set of visual elements that define the brand and give it a recognizable and notable image and feel. Branding has a powerful impact on users because our visual perception is fast and straightforward: without reading anything, the user will already know with which brand he is interacting. Of course, if branding is done correctly.
Branding saves time and effort for the user, letting them know who they are dealing with. The more trust they have with the brand, the more business opportunities will arise, the sooner they recognize the branding.
The Nielsen Norman Group did interesting research that concluded users’ eyes would often stop at numbers rather than words when scanning websites. It was fascinating that they would still fixate in numbers, even when embedded in places or within a mass of words that users typically ignore.
Numbers attract users’ attention because humans associate numbers with facts, stats, sizes, and other vital data that is potentially useful. Additionally, one single number can express a lot more information than sometimes a text can. They also provide an excellent way to be consistent, occupy less space on a screen, and provide a variation on a bulk of the text. It also saves time when a user is skimming for information.
CTAs are the core factor of conversion, high usability, and navigability on your website. They are represented by interactive controls such as buttons, tabs, links, etc. If they are not well presented, they might confuse the users. Sometimes, they might get all the information from your page in the worst-case scenario and then decide to continue on a competitor’s website simply because their CTAs are more straightforward.
This highlights the importance of design on CTAs to make them effective and achieve a great conversion rate. CTAs buttons should be easy to spot, clear on their intent, and simple to use.
Icons are pictograms or ideograms that have a massive impact on the usability and navigation of the page. Just as people pay more attention to numbers than words, people pay more attention to images than words and even numbers. The icons’ types and performance need to be carefully tested and designed to achieve the desired results of great UX.
Although a website shouldn’t be saturated, and even less with repetitive information, using images and themes to reinforce a message is advisable. Images attract a lot of attention from the user. They are also more informative and emotionally appealing for the user. Not only will they transmit information and support the main message, but they also add to the page’s stylistic concept, draw users’ attention, and help set a theme and mood for the site. It is also better to use high-quality photos and original visual content.
The style, tone, structure, and vocabulary you use to communicate with the user should be your target audience. If you are looking to attract middle-aged business people, you should not use too informal or childish terminology. In the same way that if you want to target teenagers, you shouldn’t use a formal style. Being inconsistent between your layout, images, and copy content can be confusing and irritating. To avoid this, when performing user research, focus not only on how they behave, what habits they have, or what their pain points are, but also on how they communicate. This will allow you to strengthen your design simply by using the power of words.
User Design is a science, more than people think. That is why designers routinely use cognitive psychology concepts to increase their designs’ conversion rate, intuitiveness, and appeal.
Gestalt is a German origin word that in psychology refers to the study of how the human mind perceives information on a grand scheme, not on individual data but across a whole page or sets of information given. It functions because humans want to find order through a system to the data they come across in the world, which they see as chaotic.
Designers can achieve higher conversion rates and successful interactions by using its different laws (Law of proximity, similarity, closure, symmetry, common fate, continuity, and experience).
As we’ve mentioned before, using images, icons, and other visual content is mandatory to make a website that is attractive, clear, and intuitive for the user to use. Yet, if this content is not correctly optimized, the page’s loading speed will be affected, erasing all the visual content’s benefits. Because we all know users don’t have time to waste, a loading screen is one of the worst things for them and a sign of disrespect.
Being user-centered goes beyond understanding their pain points and needs. It means caring for the user’s time and energy. To achieve a reliable, intuitive, engaging, and attractive interface, designers need to pay great attention to the tips given above and use them as a helpful checklist to improve their design.