Designing a beautiful user interface is only half the battle. For a user interface (UI) to be complete, there are other factors to consider, such as: optimization, security, and simplicity. These are all considerations that should be weighted as strongly, or even more-so, then just the overall aesthetic appeal.
After creating a new site, I generally do a user interface audit to ensure that the UI fits the criteria I set forth above. This entails checking for:
When optimizing a user interface, I always ask myself the following question: “Does the UI give the user the easiest path to purchase?”
Optimizing a site is all about ensuring that the user isn’t making unnecessary clicks or clicks that will lead them somewhere other than the desired result. For example, do you really want your readers spending time browsing .99 cent accessories when they could be shopping for higher ticket items? Of course not. To prevent this, you’d display the higher ticket items prominently and make the .99 cent items harder to find, or maybe you’d even hide them completely and display them only at checkout as “add-on” items.
Using compliant code will often leave you with a website that is relatively safe from huge security vulnerabilities. That said, many developers use recycled code from popular repositories such as Git Hub. While this is generally safe, it’s not uncommon to hear of a developer accidentally using infected code.
When I do a security check, I always ensure that the title tag and meta tag are still correct, the address or phone number hasn’t been changed, the SSL is still operating normally. Finally, to check for security issues from a user perspective, I ensure that my anti-virus software, Trend Micro Security, is open so that I can browse the site as the user would. If something is amiss, the software generally tells me that the site isn’t safe, or that it’s attempting to stuff additional cookies or collect additional information… all things we don’t want a “legit” site to be doing. Ensure that your anti-virus software is up to date before attempting this test!
“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery
This is a quote that beautifully sums up the idea of simplicity. As a designer, it’s our job to enhance the aesthetic value of white space, beautiful type and exquisite typesetting. We use images in moderation, and focus on what each element brings to the table. It’s easy to get caught up in the “what else can I add?” mindset, but the truly great UI designers know that perfection is attained in simplicity.
A beautiful UI is something that takes a great deal of practice. Most designers have a great deal of ability when it comes to adding aesthetic value, but when it comes to making something simple and practical, it becomes difficult to dial it back to fit the needs of the project. UI design, much like anything else, is a learned skill. Not all great designers are even average at user interface design. With education, and practice, you’ll be well on your way to designing beautifully functional user interfaces in no time.