Often there is a perception that, if an application business requirements are given to a developer, then the developer can design and develop the application which satisfies all the business requirements and give the best possible user interface and experience. This is a myth!
In the majority of the cases, I’ve seen that developers come up with a horrible user interface (UI) and give poor user experience (UX). There is a valid physiological reason behind it for this to happen and we should be mindful of it. Most of the developers use their analytical brain (left brain) to solve a problem, design application, create an algorithm and write the code. Whereas, UI/UX needs to use the creative side of the brain (right brain) which is rarely needed for a development job. Though we are to simultaneously use our left and right brain to maximize our potential, most of us are stronger in one over the other and can tend to be stronger in either development over UI/UX. This puts in a dilemma, does UI/UX matter at all? Is it worth investing in this? If it matters, how do we balance both business requirements and UI/UX?
It truly matters to have UI/UX that matches and should rather exceed user’s expectation. The fundamental reason is that UI/UX is the only thing that an end user interacts with. The user is possibly using 3 of his senses – seeing, hearing and touching to judge our application. If one of it goes wrong, it can leave a lasting impression on the user. In today’s fast-paced world, if the first interaction with our application goes wrong, most probably the user abandons it and goes for other alternatives. If end-user is an external user, then the company will lose competitive advantage over its competitor and will possibly lead to revenue loss.
Below are some examples of poorly designed User Experience
One way to address the dilemma of addressing UI/UX and the business requirement is to think about UI/UX as a key priority of the application. That means a clean user interface and seamless user experience need to be a key requirement of the application should align well with the business requirement. Most of the developers are highly biased about how they think and use an application, so it’s best to separate UI and UX design to a different team preferably to a qualified UX designer. Once the sample UI screens are ready for each of the business requirements, this can be incorporated into the application specification document. Along with UI screens, user experience also needs to be taken into consideration, like how screen layout, easy accessibility, intuitiveness, minimum click to achieve a task and information hierarchy. Always keep the end-user in mind, when doing this activity. Remember that, there is no absolute standard for developing a UI and UX, but we can always follow certain basic guidelines which are appropriate for the business requirement, the scope of usage, type of users, demographics, age and other human elements.
Here are some simple principles to follow:
Clarity and Consistency
Avoid using a variety of vocabulary to communicate an idea in consecutive screens. The vocabulary should be in the user’s language. The text should be visible properly.
We can follow the principle of Progressive Disclosure. Only enough information needs to be presented at a time. We can hide the complexity until it is needed to be disclosed to the user. “Learn more” design element is a simple way to hide information until it’s requested by the user to go into the details of it.
The user should be able to navigate by intuition. Active elements should indicate by word or avatar what will happen when clicked. Use real-world metaphors whenever possible. Use of appropriate controls ensures higher productivity, low error rates, user satisfaction.
Good GUI design must provide useful information to the user. For Eg:- For time-consuming jobs, we should provide a progress bar and other job parameters.
User expectations in an interface should not be violated without a very good reason. Homogeneous grouping of controls will enhance UI
Everything the user does in a UI should result in feedback.
Speed at which the controls respond to the user and smooth display of result is important.
There are commonly five basic types of help needed.
- Goal-oriented: “What kinds of things can I do with this program?
- Descriptive: “What is this? What does this do?”
- Procedural: “How do I do this?”
- Interpretive: “Why did this happen?”
- Navigational: “Where am I?”
UI & UX are the two fundamental pillars on how a user perceives a product and they are the critical element for the success of the product. Every click matters, every touch matters and every look matters, be mindful as we get into product design of any scale.