22 Main Principles of User Interface (UI) Design

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User interface design (UI design) is a long and thoughtful process which needs a lot of attention to details and special vision of the problems. You must think as user. Sometimes the decision of the problem is on the top but UI designers do not pay attention to the obvious things.

After reading some literature about user interface design and having some practice we can generalize all the information about main principles of user interface design.

There are a lot of rules which I think are important to remember to make a good user interface design. Here are the most important of the principles of user interface design:

  1. Interface must be short and simple. Everything on the screen must be clear.
  2. Don’t make users think. Keep them away from thinking what button to tap or how to find the things they need in the mess.
  3. Don’t put on the screen evident buttons, text, pictures whatever make a mess. Just useful and necessary things.
  4. Make more important elements more noticeable. This principle of user interface design is obvious.
  5. Do not use all the trends of web design just because they are current trends. If your users got used to your user interface design style then continue it or make something in the same style but a little bit different. Usually people are conservative.They do not like sharp changes. Think twice before making changes in your user interface design.
  6.  In every user interface design there are custom elements which user accustomed to. Use them.
  7. Users do not read! Remember this rule forever. Cut off all the unnecessary information to make their life easier. There are so much information in the internet and on the mobile devices that most people only look through and go farther.
  8. Do not hesitate to steal some ideas for your user interface design. There are so many resources for watching and stealing – Behance, Dribbble, freelancer sites where you can evaluate the projects of your competitors and colleagues. You may also read some interesting books on this topic. I recommend – “Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon and “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.
  9. Do not put more than 7 elements into one information block. Man’s brain cannot organize more than 7 elements.
  10. Group the objects into logical blocks. In this case user will be convenient to perceive and understand information.
  11. Understanding is better than memorization. Make a user understand your user interface design.
  12. All important elements must be noticeable. Do not make user search them.
  13. The principle of 3 clicks/taps. Every page or screen must be available by tapping just 3 times. All the sections must be close to each other and noticeable. The same rule works also for necessary information.
  14. Uniformity. In every part of the site or application there are common elements which must be the same everywhere. The same is about the style of your user interface design.
  15. Designers must offer the ways to solve the problems of user with the help of interface and it must be obvious.
  16. Correct copywriting is very important. If you have a lot of text for your newsletter written by your content manager but this text is not readable you must inform content manager about this and make improvements together. Titles are also very important. Correct titles are the way to make a user read the whole block of text under it.
  17. All the settings and elements of controls must be in one place of your user interface design.
  18. Protect users from random actions. Lead their sights to the important elements of your interface.
  19. Use grids in order to have a well planned and thoughtful user interface design, it will help you very much.
  20. Pay attention to typography. Lettering and symbols have also some styles and creates the general feeling of your user interface design.
  21. Use colors. With the help of color or its absence you may dispose color and semantic accents.
  22. Follow trends but follow them wisely. If your current user interface design have some style or obligatory elements which are not in trend then you have to forget about fashion and do what is more comfortable for users to see on your user interface design.

So there are the most important principles of user interface (UI) design I think. For more information I recommend you to read “Universal Principles of Design, Revised and Updated: 125 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions and Teach Throught Design” by William Lidwell, Jill Butler and Kritina Holden. Hope these principles of user interface design will help you to create your masterpieces.

Written by Julia Bondarenko.

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