Your company website is more than a collection of related pages. It’s a dynamic place where two online entities meet and interact: the business behind the site and the visitor who lands there in search of information, services to use, or products to buy. What happens in that meeting place is a product of both UX (User Experience) and UI (User Interface)–two different, but overlapping, fields of website design and development. A good user interface leads to a quality user experience. Insights from a site’s user experience can inform interface design, which leads to a quality experience that engages visitors and keeps them coming back.
It’s possible for a company’s product, service, or profile to be so compelling that it overcomes bad design–including multiple inconveniences to visitors. But leading developers point out that good UI design makes it easy for users to engage not just with the website itself, but also with the brand behind it.
Not sure how to test your advanced designs to see how well they function? Join UXPin Merge so you can generate lifelike prototypes with real data and interactions.
What makes good UX/UI design?
The key to good UI and UX design lies in their names: the needs and experiences of site users guide the design of all the components of a website. Interface design aims to create an outstanding experience. Visitors’ actual experience as they engage with those design elements reveals whether the interface is as user-friendly as developers think.
Designing user interfaces for ease of use and enjoyment starts with a keen understanding of a website’s visitors and what they need. Successful UI design begins with a deep understanding of the site’s target audience and its behaviors.
That includes considering how people use the site and what they expect to find there. Good UI design includes the physical aspects of using the site—motions such as swiping and tapping with fingers on mobile devices, or clicking and dragging with a mouse on a desktop or laptop. It’s also essential to give users clear guidelines on how to use the site and make the content as interesting and accessible as possible.
Each website has its own goals. Its content targets the wants and needs of a specific audience. But good UI and UX design principles apply to websites of all kinds. Here’s a rundown of five essential UI/UX design principles aimed at making a visitor’s experience the best it can be.
Be creative—but predictable
You want your site to be eye-catching, engaging, and full of entertaining and informative content. That means taking risks and trying new things. But it’s also important to give visitors familiar structures to help them navigate the site without confusion or distraction.
Essential navigation tools should follow standard formats. Buttons, menus, and other tools should look and behave in the same way they do on millions of other websites. Visitors need to perform basic functions without thinking about where those tools are, or what they look like. Essential information should also be front and center on the homepage, without requiring visitors to dig for it through layers of pages and links.
A site that’s heavily loaded with interactive features such as slideshows and carousels can interfere with a user’s goals for visiting the site. Research on visitor behavior reveals that as they watch each slide in a carousel, users are likely to forget the previous slides they viewed.
Use a code-based tool that creates a common language between designers and developers
Designers typically have to rely on developers to turn their creative visions into functional products. Unfortunately, designers can’t always determine the amount of work that goes into adding certain interactions. You might have an amazing idea, but the development team could send it back to you, slightly shocked that you even asked.
A code-based design tool like UXPin powered by Merge technology creates a common language that breaks down barriers between designers and developers. When you create a design with UXPin Merge, the tool uses the same code components that are stored in your devs’ library (Git or Storybook), all keeping full interactivity while prototyping. That’s why you can take your designs to another level. The code provides you with more interaction opportunities than any design tool can.
It’s time for design teams to switch from image-based to code-based tools. Code-based design streamlines the prototyping and development phases to get your product to market sooner. It also gives developers more power to tweak your designs to meet the needs of specific operating systems and devices.
If you doubt the power of code-based design, request access to UXPin Merge to see how much easier cross-team collaboration becomes.
Aim for maximum accessibility
Good UX/UI design targets the needs of a clearly defined audience, but that audience can still be pretty diverse. To be as broadly accessible as possible, a user-centered design must aim for maximum readability and ease of use for everyone. For example, navigation tools and other actionable elements need sufficient space between icons, links, and buttons to avoid tapping or clicking the wrong one.
Accessibility also includes giving users clear instructions on what to do on the site and telling them what will happen if they do or don’t take specific actions. As an example, buttons should be clearly labeled for the desired outcomes, such as signing up for a newsletter, buying now, or deleting information. Additional text can also warn users about unintended outcomes, such as leaving the main site or permanently removing data.
Inclusivity is an essential aspect of accessibility. Even if you’ve established the site’s target demographic, other users may be stopping by as well–and good UX design will anticipate their specific needs. Inclusive interfaces should accommodate people with disabilities by providing alternative options such as large fonts and high contrast text, and including audio content and navigation tools that are easy to find and manipulate on both mobile and desktop devices.
Keeping up with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines will help you add inclusive components to your design system.
UXPin and Piotr Źrołka, CEO and accessibility expert at Kinaole, recently hosted a webinar that shows how much easier inclusive design becomes when you follow a few simple guidelines within UXPin Merge.
Build a design system for creativity and control
If you rely on a style guide to ensure consistency across your digital products, your teams are probably wasting a lot of time. Take the effort to convert your static style guides into dynamic design systems that contain all of your brand’s authorized design components, including features, color schemes, and language.
Design systems keep lead designers in control while giving others flexibility to create innovative products and features. Your design system might include all the components that designers and developers can use, but it also provides nearly unlimited opportunities for them to mix and match features to build new products.
As a result, you get advanced designs that still conform to your brand identity.
Join UXPin Merge and watch users become more engaged
It takes less than three seconds for a visitor to abandon a website–and many never return. User-centred design anticipates obstacles and works to eliminate them, with simple, clean interfaces that lead visitors to the information they need and points them toward the decisions you want them to make.
The principles of good UX and UI design work together to make the meeting place that is your website as welcoming as possible for any visitor who stops by. See how UXPin’s Merge blends design and engineering for better and faster site development.