I know most of you want to jump straight to the designing without wasting a moment but I would recommend you brush up on the theory before diving into the practice because being aware of the design principles is crucial.
What exactly is the design principles?
They are loose guidelines, commonly known as heuristics, that designers must follow in order to improvise the essence of UI/UX design and accelerate delivery time.
Here, in this blog, we are going to iterate through building requirements, implementing designs and finally testing your user interface.
The UI/UX Design Principles
Making use of UI/UX design principles smartly can actually make the UI/UX designer’s job easier and improve the efficiency of the interface. It helps in eradicating a lot of guesswork and establishing a more predictable user interface. However, it is crucial to identify the main focus of your application, so that you don’t end up wasting the time of your targetted users.
Some of the most common user interface design principles are:
- Meaningful Structure
Designing should focus on developing a meaningful and purposeful user interface based on clear and consistent models that come handy to users and provide an interactive interface. The structured principle is concerned with organizing overall user interface architecture by distinguishing dissimilar things and placing similar things together.
The design should enable users to perform tasks in a simple and easy manner. It should be able to provide clear communication in user-friendly language and meaningful shortcuts related to long procedures which will result in saving a lot of time and energy.
All the required options and materials for an ongoing task should be made visible without distracting the user with redundant pieces of information. An ideal design avoids confusing users with alternative or unnecessary information.
Make sure the design is flexible and tolerant enough, it should be capable of reducing the cost of mistakes and misuse by undoing and redoing. It is also expected out of a design to prevent errors wherever possible by tolerating varied inputs and interpreting all reasonable actions.
Keeping your users informed about their actions and relevant errors or exceptions in a clear, concise and unambiguous way is important. It gives the user a sense of mutual trust.
The design should be able to reuse internal as well as external behaviours while maintaining consistency with the purpose and thus reducing the user efforts in remembering and rethinking.
While designing an application you can verify you’re on the right track just whenever you wish by user testing your prototype, this way you might save the possible expenditure on future changes and improvements. You can simply iron out the kinks before writing your code and hence sparing your team the time and hassle of making changes in development. Besides, you will also get a before-hand idea about how users will receive your product.
- The Designing Process
These days it is critical to understand user behaviour and context. People are busy, they have thousands of things going on, so it’s a smart choice to consider prototyping your app using only messaging as your delivery channel, and to break down your service into smaller micro-tasks that can be pieced together over time rather than executed all at once.
However, before getting started it is important to acknowledge what do you intend on designing. We don’t need to bust out the pencil and paper or fire up sketch just yet. We just need to brainstorm the overall functionality and features we plan on offering through the application.
Here are some of the basic functions I could think of:
Being a mobile phone user yourself you would understand how major role push notifications play for an application when it comes to updating or alerting. So having an onboard screen that asks for the user permission to allow the push notification is important.
To provide users with a go-to screen where they can see and access all the features is essential and thus, having an attractive home screen should be on top of the list.
- Tracking Progress
The application should enable users to track their progress, this way it will create a relationship of mutual dependency and trust between the user and application.
- Navigation Menu
To assist the user in navigating through the application more sufficiently and prominently it is better to have a navigation menu. With the help of it, the user can access any component of the application with just one click.
- Query Section / Help Desk
For users stuck in a situation or dilemma, it is important to have a section in your application through which they can reach out to you and you can help them. This helps in giving a user more significant experience.
There can obviously be more feature to an application than this list, but it works well for the scope of the tutorial.
The Building of Application
To get started, sketch out the various functionalities your application is supposed to have, once you finalize this, we will start breathing life into them.
The first thing we need is a simple flowchart so we can understand how the user will make their way through the application. This will also help us in getting a better understanding of how the different screens of our app interact with each other and thus we can start bringing them to life.
Next thing we will need to do is to ensure that the user allows us to send push notifications, this is how we will inform them about the updates. You can just overlay the notification bubble on top of instructions which will explain to them why they need to enable the notifications. When a new user will launch the app, the first thing we’ll show them is a screen which explains why weed permissions to push notifications to them. So now that we have a clear idea, we’ll fire up Sketch, select the Artboard tool (A), and use the iPhone 6 preset in the inspector panel to the right. To add common iOS elements like the status bar, we’ll head to File >> New From Template >> iOS UI Design. Once you are done designing, every time a user will hit enable notification, the native permission dialog box will be triggered.
Once you are done with the push notifications, we will now be talking about the home screen. Yes, it is essential to give the user a basic walkthrough and explain some of the mechanics of the app, but we’ll save that for another day. However, if we just stick to the common user interface design principles, we may not need a walkthrough at all, the app should be intuitive enough.
The basic features we will be needing on the home screen are:
- If it is a gaming app, show their stats nice and big at the top of the home screen.
- Below the stats, show their progress and levels that are yet to be unlocked, this will entice the user to unlock them every time they visit the home screen.
- It is important for your app to be very visual so try and incorporate relevant and attractive photographs on each page.
- Since this is your home screen it should enable the user to access everything from here, be it user settings.
Now like before you need to fire up Sketch and start designing the elements of our home screen. Most of the work has already been done, so it’s just a matter of putting each element where it belongs and adding a splash of colour. With the home screen complete, the user will have a place to track their overall progress and tweak their user settings. Excellent!
We’ve talked about the designing of the home screen and push notifications, and it will work similarly for every other screen of the application. As always you will have to start by laying out the basic idea and then by firing up Sketch to place all of these UI elements.
A Key Tip:
Think about what it is your users will be trying to accomplish and focus on the key user goals that you have identified (ideally through user research). Don’t get distracted by trying to design and build features that are very unlikely to be used on mobile anyway.
The Testing of your Design
At this point we’ve got some well thought out designs but how can we make sure that our UI/UX design which looks conventional is actually accurate as a mobile app UI/UX design? This is where testing comes in.
Any mobile application usability test session must have 5 components that need to be thought out, carefully planned and established before any testing takes place.
- The questions that the test seeks to answer.
- The realistic tasks that need to be performed to represent natural interactions between the user and the app.
- The test documents such as the orientation script, and the pre and post-test questionnaires.
- The test participants (representative of the users who will use the app).
- The test method that will be used typically for recording and observing the test participants performing the tasks depending on the objective of the test.
Don’t try and reinvent the wheel when designing your mobile app. If you need inspiration, just look at common UI patterns for the platform you’re working on and other popular apps you love using. Think hard about when you should break out of known patterns and test them with people to make sure they still understand the flow of your app.