Once you’ve come up with an idea for your application and you have the business plans prepared, before you get into development, you should think about the look and feel of the application you are building and how that will contribute to its functions. Most applications need to go through design phases before development can begin. This solidifies how users will interact with the product. This is where User Interface and User Experience (UI/UX) comes in.
UX is about designing a complete user experience. It should provide a path to solving real problems and meeting the user’s needs. It focuses not only on design but on the functionality and usability of the product. It is also a representation of your brand. Having a vision for the type of user experience you want to accomplish is important. Getting feedback or performing some research on the user experience connected with your product will also help to make sure it aligns with your goals.
UI is about building the interface that will provide the user experience. This is about picking the look and feel of the interface based on button elements, text, colors, layouts, and more.
To get to a complete UI, before final designs are in place, wireframing or prototyping can be done. These are essentially the blueprints that will tell you how the Interface should be laid out and function.
Think of it along the lines of a blueprint to a house. You would want to have a full blueprint of the home before you started building. Wireframing will give you that, it makes sure you have the fundamental building blocks defined before you work on getting to the end product. Prototyping is taking it a step further and providing functionality to a basic version of the product concept, but we’ll hop into that in another post. To be successful in UI/UX design, you need to understand in general how a website or application works, not just on a desktop but on other devices. Understand what it means to be responsive. The way your product will look and function on a desktop may be different on a responsive device such as a smartphone or tablet because these devices have a smaller canvas to display information on and different operating systems. As a result, your product will need to be built based on platform and screen resolution.
Building for the Consumer
You also need to have a bit of understanding of how users think and how they browse these applications and websites. The biggest thing you need to know is that users hardly read, they scan. They scan to quickly find anything of relevance to them before they will invest the time to read and learn more. So in your design, you need to make sure it is spaced properly, has the right imagery, headlines, bolding, bullet points, and is easy to scan through. If a user sees too much bulk information together or the fonts and colors are hard on their eyes, they can quickly become discouraged and leave.
Your biggest messages or offers need to be above the fold. While users will scroll, they barely do unless they have a reason to. You need to capture them with your top graphics and messages. Engaging content will get more user interactions.
When browsing a desktop or mobile application, the top left corner gets the most attention and then the user’s eyes move across to the right, then back down to the left and across again to the right, almost making a Z pattern when browsing. As a result, focus on the top left and right corners of your application to drive higher quality offers. An easy to navigate application with clear paths and flows will retain its users because the product will be intuitive for the user. It should not take the user more than three steps to get into the part of the application they want to use. Everything needs to be easy to find and access.
Part of designing for UI/UX is to make sure you pick the right tools based on the product you are building. For example, a designer may use Photoshop or Sketch to provide a complete web or mobile app design. If they were wireframing, they may choose a different tool such as Lucid Charts or Adobe XD or even tools such as Invision or Marvel App for basic interactive designs. A great UI kit will help save time bringing together the elements you want to present on a page since many of these elements are pre-built such as forms, buttons, charts, and graphs.
Hiring a Designer
Picking the right design team for your product will depend on their work experience and your budget. Make sure that you do the necessary research and review their portfolio. Do they design products similar to the one you want to build? How complex or simple are their designs? What about the look and feel of their work? Does it resonate with you? Outside of that, make sure that the team you pick has experience in the type of product you are building. For example, are you building a web app or mobile app? If your looking for a designer check out some of your local web design & marketing agencies, Upwork, and Fiverr.
Bringing it all together
Depending on the route you choose to take with your product, when picking a development team, that team may also be able to provide references to designers for the product or have designers within the company. Or, you may choose a completely separate design team for your application that ends up being unrelated to the development team. It is also possible that your product may be simple enough where the developers can handle the UI/UX elements of the application as part of the requirements if you were in a phase such as prototyping before you decided to do full-scale design and development.
While your choices may be heavily weighed on budget and timeline, don’t skip the exploration and research process on finding the right UI/UX solutions for your product that fit within your means and goals. The final product will be a representation of your brand, so, setting a good impression on the look, feel and functionality will be important.
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