As a business owner, you don’t need us to tell you that customers are at the centre of your success. And, just like with any product or service, when creating a website or an app it is crucial you engage your users with a pleasing user interface.
This is because your user interface design is basically a service, a bonus to your app. And if you follow the user interface design best practices, this bonus can get you a lot of extra points with your users.
However, a good UI can be quite subjective and users’ opinions often change depending on digital trends. This is why it is usually recommended you reach out to a professional UX/UI designer to analyize your UI, find potential flows and help you improve it.
But for now, let’s look at the user interface design best practices in 2022 and see how many do you check out.
10 user interface design best practices in 2022
1. Make it reversible
We all had multiple mini heart attacks after deleting something we did not mean to or clicking by mistake on a button or field we weren’t supposed to. Luckily, most of the time we either have an Undo or back button, or the ever-saving combination Cmd/Ctrl+Z – the eraser of digital hiccups.
But, imagine that undoing a mistake even as small as misspelling our name on a form would not be possible. How frustrating would that be, not to mention how stressful would it be for users to complete the simplest of tasks?
Thankfully, this is not the case, and many applications have a form of undoing an action or a back button of some sort to save us when we misclick.
A simple feature like that allows your users to undo an action, or go back and double-check will create trust and loyalty with your brand, which is why it is so important to have it in your user interface design.
Providing your users with a safety net that helps them relax and be more confortable with your app, regardless of the task they are trying to complete, can be the difference between a conversion or a bounce. But it also sends a message that you actually care about your users.
2. Keep it simple (but not oversimplified)
Very often we encounter interfaces for apps or websites that are so complex that is more confusing than useful, leaving users feeling lost and frustrated. And the problem here is that, while a good experience stays in your users’memory for a while, users tend to remember a bad experience for a long time.
So, simple interface design is a good interface design – especially for new users or those less tech-savvy.
But be careful! There is a thin line between minimalistic design and oversimplified. Keep in mind that your users come with different levels of techical understanding, different kinds of devices, etc. So what for some users might be a simple and nice layout, for others the same structure can seem broken or unfinished.
To avoid this situation, involve your users in the design process – gather focus groups, conduct interviews, do surveys. There are plenty of options and most of them do not cost a thing. But make sure you test your UI on a variety of devices of all sizes and all operating systems.
3. Consider everyone’s needs (make it accessible)
When you build a mobile or web app, keep in mind that different users have different abilities or disabilities. People with poor vision, blind people, those with hearing impairments, or people with other disabilities should also be able to use your platform.
But keep in mind that accessible design affects everyone’s user flow, not just users with a permanent or a temporary disability. Whether your users are in a situation where they need accessible design or simply use it for productivity, accessible features always come in handy.
For example, adding images to describe a feature, a button or even entire sections of your website helps users who don’t speak the same language or users who can’t read. But they also come in handy when you are in a rush and trying to find information quickly as images stand out and help you identify information faster than text.
Similarly, if you add captions to your tutorial videos, it will benefit users who have hearing impairments. But it also comes really in handy for a user who is commuting and forgot their headset at home.
4. Don’t change things midway (keep it consistent)
Consistency is very important for your user experience and brand image. So, when building your mobile or web app, make sure key elements never change. This includes the font families you use throughout your designs, button styles, colours, etc.
Try to limit your font families choice to two at most, and use one for headings and titles and the other for regular text – this creates emphasis but keeps up consistency. Similarly, make sure your colour palette is limited to 4-5 colours that you use throughout the design.
But also, make sure you are consistent with your graphic assets – using a cartoonish image to describe one section or element and a hyper-realistic animation to showcase another will create a break in your user perception.
5. Be empathic
You might ask – I already considered accessible design, what does “being empathic mean”? Think about it this way – accessible design is trying to foresee what your users need before you present your designs, while empathic design is the follow-up.
Basically, empathic design is all about getting to know your users and understanding what they need. But it is not as easy as it sounds. You can start with analytic tools that help identify your users and their behaviour. Then you have to get all the way down to a personal level.
Create a close relationship with your users by allowing them to leave feedback, or ask questions. Something as simple as a popup asking their opinion can give them the feeling of being heard, which is a really great way to make your users feel comfortable with your app.
6. Keep up to expectations
Users have expectations from previous experiences with similar platforms. And fulfilling these expectations is really valuable since it will boost your user’s confidence in using your app or web.
Think about how most chat applications seem to work the same way – they have a text box, and when you press enter, the text is sent out. Similarly, when users see big, bright buttons, they expect to be redirected to an important page like the shop or the cart.
If your UI doesn’t meet their expectation or goes outside of “the norm”, your users won’t think you are just different, they will assume that specific feature is simply broken.
7. Go with familiar
This is tightly connected to the previous point. While users have expectations from a feature or element – i.e. what should happen when pressing a button or link – they also have expectation on how buttons should look.
Simply put, users need to recognize elements they are familiar with. So, when creating your interface think about what your users might expect – is there a specific “norm” for this design that you should consider following? The best example of this is the similarities between the Google Office suite vs. Microsoft’s equivalent.
Someone who used MS Word has no problem using Google Docs, or Excel and Google sheets. They are incredibly similar. But in general, every text editor follows the same “rules” because users have a specific expectation for the Print button or the Alignment buttons. Go outside of the “norm” and your users will not be able to find that button even if it’s in plain sight.
8. Give feedback
For every action, there is a reaction. And this is not a philosophical ponder – think about it, without a reaction to their actions, how can users know that their action was successful?
User interface design best practices dictate any action – from the click of a button to something as serious as a payment – needs to have a confirmation. Think how confusing it would be if your user presses the “Confirm payment” button and nothing happens. They will be confused, frustrated and worried – Did they pay? Do they press it again? What should they do?
Action confirmation messages, errors, even a button changing it looks once pressed, all confirm the user that their action was indeed successful and they can relax and wait for the next step. And if the process takes a bit longer, make sure you let them know with a progress bar, a loading screen or a simple text saying “this might take a few minutes”.
All of these small and seemingly insignificant details add to your transparency and improve your overall user experience, user trust and in the long run your retention rates.
9. Solve problems the right way
Speaking of errors, they are an inseparable part of life. And, this applies to the digital world as well. We’ve all been there, trying really hard to remember our password, only to see an error message showing over and over again but there is no solution to the problem.
Or, what happens if your user doesn’t feel comfortable creating a user with your system and sharing their data with you?
With no clear solution, your users will get annoyed or frustrated and just leave the app. So give your users options. Something as simple as a reset password option, a social login option or a skip button can save you a lot of hassle.
10. Don’t ask for information you don’t need
This goes a bit beyond just your user interface, but neither GDPR nor your users like it when you ask for too much information. So make sure you only ask for what you absolutely need – don’t get greedy with data.
For example, if your system doesn’t need more than an email and a password to create a user, don’t ask your users to input their age, gender, etc. Similarly, when you create a newsletter subscription form, limit your information to what you need – an email, and maybe a first name.
The more personal data you ask for, the more sceptical your users will get and the more chance you have they leave your site before a conversion was made.
User interface design best practices in a nutshell
We hope this article opened a new avenue for you into what your users expect from your designs and how important it is for them that you listen. Following the user interface design best practices mentioned in this article is only half of the journey – listen to your users and their grievances. It’s not about you, it’s about their needs.
Avoid frustration by using a clear design, conforming to the norms and always making sure you have action confirmations and more than one way of completing a task. And finally – keep in mind that users are sceptical about their and their data safety. Allow them to skip unnecessary steps, only ask for needed data and always be transparent about why you need that data.
And if you need more assistance with your user interface design, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Book a free consultation with our UX/UI designers, and build the user experience your users deserve.