UI design

UI Design: Definition and tips for designing your site

UI is an abbreviation for User Interface. This notion refers to the graphic design of a website, an application or a software. The goal: to offer visitors the ideal user experience, and to do this you need worked user interfaces!

When we talk about UI design or user interfaces, we are talking about the link between users and the interface. Several elements will influence the moment that users will spend on your interface, such as color, typography, visuals, your charter, the prioritization of your content, etc ... With an interface with a neat design and a thoughtful user journey, you will be able to offer an optimal user experience. This is where we see how UX design and UI design are complementary. We explain everything in this article!

Morvan CarrierMorvan Carrier

Morvan Carrier

Co-founder
Published on 30 September 2021 (Updated on 14 February 2022)

Summary

What is UI design?

Setting the UI (User Interface)

Before you explain how to design an interface with impeccable UI design, you must first understand this notion. The User Interface (UI) corresponds to graphical interfaces designed to offer a worked user experience to visitors. This is the meeting point between them and a product/service.

UI design includes all the elements that the visitor can see and interact with. This can range from the simple text command line to more complex graphics and animations. It encompasses the entire graphical environment of a web or mobile interface: typography, colors, content prioritization, CTA shapes, etc.

The goal is to build a visual identity in order to highlight the message and emotion you want to convey. Especially since a worked visual will allow you to stand out from the competition. And the more pleasant your interface, the more likely you are to convert or your visitors will return.

Everything must be thought out so that message and design harmonize and are transmitted to visitors in the best way. This is one of the pillars of the UI.

What is the interest of UI design?

There are many reasons why it is important to develop your UI design. That's why this discipline must be integrated from the beginning of your interface design. This will make it easier for you to solve problems that your visitors may encounter.

UI design must be linked to a solid graphic charter and qualitative content. The visual will serve the image of your company and the content will convey an adapted atmosphere.

The goal is that your visitors feel that you share the same values, that you can give them the help they need and that they can count on your expertise. That's why every color used, every typography chosen, every location selected, is important. You will be able to:

  • Work on your brand image: by giving confidence to your users, you improve your conversion rate.
  • Improve user interactions: by working on the design of your interface, you would reduce your bounce rate.

How to succeed in your User Interface?

To obtain a pleasant and ergonomic interface, consistency is required throughout your project! It would be a bit strange to go from a minimalist and sober page to a colorful and animated page, wouldn't it? We also don't want typography that changes with each paragraph (it's exaggerated but you get it).

So, think simplicity, choose harmonious colors and limit yourself to a small number. Beautiful, simple and effective are the three words of your mantra.

This is why it is imperative to work on your graphic charter to list all the rules related to your image, as well as an editorial charter to ensure consistency in your messages. This will also allow all stakeholders to be on the same page and have a concrete objective of the project.

To help you visualize a successful UI, let's take two examples. The Aibnb website has a visual in line with the message it wishes to convey. The information is quickly accessible and we immediately understand the purpose of the company.

ui_design_airbnb

The WeTransfer interface is also interesting: simple and efficient, you can easily send your files, all beautifully decorated with works by artists.

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What is a UI designer?

The design of the user interface of your project can go through a UI designer. It is up to him to create the link between users and your offer.

Of course, you can decide to do without it. But he will have the necessary knowledge on the latest trends in digital design to guide you as best as possible and make proposals adapted to your project and your needs.

Its purpose is to help you develop an attractive and functional interface for your users. They must be able to have a pleasant time browsing it and find the information they are looking for easily.

And since UI and UX are complementary, the UI designer does not hesitate to take into consideration UX analyses to obtain a final result that meets your expectations. If you are a project manager, you must assimilate the two notions.

How to design a good UI design?

ux_design_ui_design

Know your users

UI design has for domain the visual aspect and ergonomics of an interface. The goal is to bring emotion to visitors. That's why before you go headlong into the design of your interface, you need to analyze your visitors.

To help you, you will have to create personas, which will allow you to collect demographic, social, psychological and behavioral information about your target. You will have enough elements to design an interface that will meet his needs and inspire confidence.

Have a coherent project

As we have been able to say before, to have a coherent project and that it can last throughout the process, you must have two documents: the graphic charter and the editorial charter.

They will help you not to get lost during the development of your interface. Remember that, while your interface obviously needs to be pretty, it also needs to be ergonomic and the user needs to be able to navigate easily and find content that interests them and can help them.

Think about your design

Use zonings

Zoning corresponds to a raw schema of your future interface. Blocks are then used to define the locations of the different contents and features. But to do this, you must first have a good idea of what your tree will be.

You will then be able to indicate the key elements of your project, the sizes you want and the positioning. This will help you build a harmonious whole.

Make wireframes

Wireframes are mockups that define the location of your content, with titles, visuals, etc... No code is required to create a wireframe.

Its purpose is to help you prioritize information and think about the one structure of your user interface. This general vision is essential to avoid making mistakes in the layout of your graphic elements.

Build a mockup

A mockup is the representation of an interface switched to a functional and navigable HTML version. We can then put links and even clickable CTAs to perform simulations and thus detect possible errors. This type of simulation will be very useful for you to project more.

💡 You can make mockups via the Balsamiq Mockups tool.

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Work on your design

Once the structure is validated, you can start working on the graphics. You will be able to integrate colors, animations, choose your typography and visuals.

Typography

Finding a typography that matches your company's image is not easy. It should represent your brand and facilitate the transmission of your message. Size is also important and must be able to adapt to any media.

Colors

We are all more sensitive to certain colors than to others (depending on our age, our past, our environment, etc.). This is why it is essential to study your target to define the colors that will be able to speak to them. Use a color circle.

Animations

Animations should help you convey your messages, help visitors in their navigation and amaze them! By being concise, efficient and creative, you will be able to capture the attention of your. Be careful not to abuse it!

Images

Finally, images must be carefully chosen: selecting the right image takes time. You don't have to settle for a clichéd visual showing people shaking hands. You have to know how to attract the eye while remaining simple.

Prototype your project

A prototype makes it possible to validate a web or mobile interface by making interactions functional in order to test them and detect errors. Users are not there to buy the offer, but to help you optimize your interface.

Unlike zonings or wireframes, with which you cannot interact, a prototype is interactive. It will allow you to show how your project works and what it looks like in front of your users or in front of potential investors for example.

Our tips to realize your user interface

5 Design Styles for Your Ui

Atomic design

The objective of this technique is to create modules that adapt to any medium. By reducing a website or mobile app to its basic elements, you can then put them together to form an interface.

Material design

Launched by Google, material design is a guide to building a graphical interface. The approach is reminiscent of flat design, with the difference that the graphic elements have relief and allow micro-interaction between the interface and the user.

Neuomorphic design

The goal of neuromorphic design is to design a realistic interface. Indeed, he uses techniques to give a real relief effect, bringing out the elements more. Shadow effects are therefore very important to achieve a convincing result.

Flat design

Flat design is characterized by its minimalist appearance. It is usually found on touch screens, such as mobile applications. The content and features are highlighted thanks to its simplicity, colors and modern side.

Line design

The principle of line design is one line at a time. There are then clean lines, greasy lines, which contrast with the background, and without any shadow. These minimalist designs make it possible to convey messages simply.

5 Tools to Design a User Interface

Sketch

Sketch is a well-known tool for designers. This software has been designed for the creation of interfaces and to offer UX and UI designers the tools necessary for the realization of their project: many plugins, the export of assets and the possibility of connecting to other software, such as Slack. On the other hand, it is only available on Mac.

Adobe XD

Photoshop overshadowed by Sketch software, Adobe was able to react with Adobe XD. The software is supplemented by new features almost every month and the free version is interesting enough to be interested in it (sharing prototypes, design and font selection). You can also connect to other software.

Gravit Designer

Gravit Designer may not be as well known as Sketch or Adobe XD, but it is interesting for its free and the fact that it can be downloaded for different platforms, such as Chrome, Mac or Windows. It has many features such as the realization of vector illustrations, interfaces and retouching.

Figma

You can use Figma via your web browser with any operating system, unlike Sketch, which can only be used on Mac. Your entire team can therefore have access to software and projects simply and in real time. No need to manage and send a multitude of files, just share your different elements.

Invision

Finally, you can also use InVision. You can import your creations there, even if you designed them from Photoshop or sketch. In terms of added value, InVision allows you to bring all project stakeholders together in one place and thus facilitates the progress of the project thanks to its collaborative capabilities.

UX and UI design: Two complementary areas

What is UX design?

UX design corresponds to the user experience, i.e. the journey that a visitor will make on your interface. Its goal is to draw a defined route that will help the user find what he is looking for.

For this, it is necessary to work on navigation, accessibility, ergonomics, interactions, visuals, etc ... Anything that can create a pleasant moment for your visitors and give them positive emotions so that they can come back to it.

As you will have understood, if the UI takes care of the visual and graphic part, the UX takes care of the analysis and optimization aspect of the user journey by seeking to make it as simple and efficient as possible.

The UX designer will then analyze statistics and anticipate the user journey to propose an interface in accordance with visitors' expectations.

Complementary concepts

UX and UI design are two different and complementary concepts that must meet the needs of your target. To have an optimal interface, we must focus on working on these two aspects: either the visual of the interface and the user journey.

It is thanks to the mixture of the two that you will be able to offer a powerful interface.

By focusing only on the UI, you will probably have difficulties regarding your navigation for example, because you will have excluded the UX aspect of your process. Conversely, focusing on UX ensures a good user experience, but without a minimum of aesthetics you will have a hard time capturing the attention of your visitors.

The UI will therefore allow you to create a visually pleasing interface, while the UX will help the user to meet his needs, all while making him have a good time.

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FAQ: What to remember about UI design

The User Interface (UI) refers to the graphical aspect of a software, application or website. The goal is to build an impactful visual identity and offer a pleasant user experience to visitors. It includes visible elements (example: typography, colors, CTA, etc.) with which a visitor can interact.

There are several tools to design its user interface: Sketch, which has many features, Adobe XD, which also exists in free version, Gravit Designer, downloadable on different platforms, Figma, to use via your web browser. And finally, InVision, easily accessible to all project stakeholders.

The UX design will allow a smooth and easy navigation on your interface. It helps the visitor to find what he needs without obstacle. But the experience wouldn't be complete without a visual that's pleasing to look at and optimized to simplify user search. The two notions go hand in hand, you can't focus on one or the other.