User interface (UI) development is the process of creating the visual look and feel of an application. It includes everything from designing a user interface, wireframing and prototyping, testing and collaborating with other designers. It’s not just about making buttons look pretty or how to layout navigation menus. UI design plays a crucial role in any digital product. And it’s more important than you think.
The right user experience can be the difference between success or failure for your product. If users have a difficult time understanding how an app works or find it boring, they won’t stick around for long. But, if your app has a beautiful UI that makes users feel instantly at home and gives them a reason to come back again and again – they’ll use it every day.
What does UI development involve?
UI development is responsible for designing the visual look and feel of an application. The process involves designing a user interface, including how buttons look, how menus work, how colours and fonts are used, the positioning of elements, and more. In the beginning, you will define your goals for the user interface. You’ll consider how users will interact with the app, their needs and preferences, and their behaviour.
You will create mock-ups for the user interface to visualize how the app will look. Next, you will wireframe the user interface. A wireframe is a high-level diagram that outlines the major elements of an app, including the menu, navigation, buttons, and forms. All major components of the user interface are represented in a wireframe to illustrate how they will work.
What skills are required for UI development?
As you might have guessed, UI development involves skills that are closely related to design. You will need to be extremely detail-oriented and have excellent organizational skills. You must also be comfortable with a broad range of software tools and be able to work both in a digital and physical environment.
As you progress in your career, you will also want to keep your eyes open for opportunities to learn new skills and grow. If you can learn new skills such as interaction design, machine learning, artificial intelligence, or DevOps — you will be ahead of the curve.
UI design principles you must follow while developing a UI
- Design for clarity – Make sure that your app is easy for users to understand and navigate.
- Understand your users – Don’t assume that new users know the basics of how the app works. Ask your existing users what they like and dislike about your app.
- Consider the context and time – Design your app to fit the context and time of your users. For example, if your app is used by people who spend their evenings watching Netflix, your app should have a slightly different look and feel than if your app is used by people who spend their mornings doing yoga.
- Think beyond the screen — If there is something that users can do while they are on their phone, even if it’s just checking emails, then design your app so that they can do it. For example, instead of having users enter information into a form, let them automatically create an invoice or a receipt.
Four important aspects of a user interface in apps
These four aspects of an application’s user interface are worth mentioning, as they are crucial for creating a great user experience.
- Choreography – The way you sequence the user interface’s actions is also called choreography.
- Signposting – Signs like arrows and labels are called signposts. They let users know what to do next.
- Contextual clues – Contextual clues help users understand how to relate one action to another. For example, a dark grey button and a bright blue label would have contextual clues that let users know how to use them together.
- Interaction design – The way a button feels and looks is called interaction design.
User interface design process
This section will walk you through the user interface design process. This process will include the following steps:
- Wireframing – Wireframing is an early-stage design concept where you create a suitable stage for a visualization of your user interface. You can use paper, Sketch, or a sophisticated wireframing tool to design your user frame.
- Prototyping – In the prototyping step, you create a low-fi, visual mock-up of your user interface. You can use tools like PowerPoint, or even OmniGraffle.
- Visual design – In the visual design step, you develop your mock-up into a design that reflects your actual app. You can use tools like Sketch, Photoshop, or Affinity.
- Development – In the development step, you create the actual app that reflects the design that you created in the visual design step. This can be done through tools like React, or Flutter.
To sum everything up, UI development is a process that involves designing the visual look and feel of an application. It includes everything from wireframing and prototyping to testing and collaborating with other designers. And it’s more important than you think.
The right user experience can be the difference between success or failure for your product. If users have a difficult time understanding how an app works or find it boring, they won’t stick around for long. But, if your app has a beautiful UI that makes them feel instantly at home and gives them a reason to come back again and again – they’ll use it every day.