GUI and UI design can be tricky business. Both must perform any number of complex functions, all while maintaining an attractive aesthetic that complements a product or application’s overall design. Successful designers understand the importance of striking the fine balance between form and function in GUI design.
The Importance of Branding User Experience
Brand consistency is a crucial component of user experience, whether online or offline. It’s so vital, in fact, that the branding stage should be one of the first steps in creating any UI. Developing an accurate understanding of a company’s end users, business goals and overall vision should largely shape UI design, ensuring that any time a user interacts with a UI, the design clearly reflects the company’s brand, ultimately contributing to increased user loyalty and satisfaction.
The Art of Balancing User Perception and Behavior
Whether designing an interface for physical devices or virtual products, all designers share a primary goal: to bring the user’s intent into balance with the outcome. While people give utmost concern to the functionality a GUI or UI delivers, their perception is shaped by the behavior and appearance of the interface as well.
It’s important to balance perception and behavior by creating design rules based on user input and user context, instead of relying solely on the visual properties of a UI. Placing emphasis on understanding user intent allows designers to “predict” what customers want, providing an intuitive experience that matches their initial perception.
Optimizing Elements and Individual Screens to Increase Functionality
Optimizing UI elements and individual screens helps to simultaneously enhance application aesthetics, improve user experience and increase functionality. Creating an appealing and functional interface is not limited to using eye-catching images and beautiful graphics; it is a result of optimizing and arranging elements individually and strategically, so they appeal to users’ emotions in a positive way.
Functionality can be improved by testing a variety of different sizes and placements of UI elements to allow users quicker and easier access. Designs with otherwise high functionality will likely be considered useless if people are unable to navigate and find what they are looking for. Consider the learning curve required to use the application and devise a way for each screen to provide a simple experience for beginners and ‘power users’ alike.. Successful designers focus on functionality before form, and later bring both into balance.
Take a Measured Approach to Aesthetics
Take care not to overdesign. Stunning aesthetics can actually detract from the user experience of a device or application; thereby distracting users and impeding their ability to use its functions. Find beauty in simplicity, as overly complex designs can also slow loading times, increase the potential for errors, lengthen start-up times, and affect other factors that will greatly influence users’ perceptions of performance. Dazzling interfaces that aren’t responsive and fast ultimately lead to poor reviews and problems in the marketplace.
Displaying ‘Good Form’ ala Bonhomie
Responding quickly and amicably to customer and stakeholder feedback is an element of proper form that shouldn’t be ignored, as delayed feedback response can cause further disconnects and communication hurdles. A timely response lets users know that their concerns have been heard, and that a solution is forthcoming. Gratitude — not annoyance — should be the primary sentiment expressed to users willing to take the time to raise their voices. When a user informs you of a bug in the software that needs to be addressed, they’re doing you a favor, enabling you to make changes that will eventually benefit all users.