Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Common UI blunders

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” - Leonardo Da Vinci

UI/UX today has become paramount in building applications and websites. After that whole wave in the 80s with the advent of Macintosh by Apple, elements like typography, animations, user interfaces were touted to be as important as what the software does. How you do something is equally important as what you do. Industrial designers like Dieter Rams have always emphasized “less is more”.
This design philosophy was applied to UIs as well which were earlier cluttered not crafted with care or perfection. UIs existed only for namesake and nothing more. The world has witnessed the waves of different types of design philosophies. 1984 to 2000 saw the evolution of GUIs while 2000 was the dawn of skeuomorphism, which based its design on real time objects and creatures. Scott Forstall was one of the pioneers and proponents of skeuomorphic design.
Around 2010, skeuomorphism died a slow death and design philosophy was once again resurrected in the form of flat design called minimal design. The design preached a concept titled minimalism which advocated Dieter Rams’ philosophy. Only include what is minimally necessary. UI/UX design was segr egated as a seperate and revered avenues of designing.

However, aspiring designers in the process of learning tend not to study the concepts before trying out the art and end up committing severe errors impacting the user experience

keep these pointers in mind if you’re a UI/UX designer:

  • sluggish load: try not to cram your web page into a cumbersome place. prefer saving your files as a css
  • lack of responsive design: responsiveness is crucial since the major audience out there use their smartphones as their primary devices
  • cluttered design: simplify, simplify and simplify. simplifying something takes a lot of effort ironically. 
  • no variation between elements: without variation between the UI elements, the users wont know how to interpret your clunky interface. Deal with buttons, play with colors, think out the box to make it easy on the user. trust me, it pays off. 
  • complex navigation: you just can’t cram everything on the landing page so spread your content uniformly with seamless and flawless navigation. nobody likes the word ‘complex’
  • no message: User interface design is dependent on user interaction. Without giving users a clear set of rules and information, it will leave them out of control and uncomfortable. This may seem like an easy mistake to miss, but be careful not to assume that users will know how to complete an action
  • failure to understand end users: Before every activity that you undertake you must know your end users even though this is not always entirely possible. Note, however, that it is a crucial task in order to properly plan the workflow of the application, and consequently, the prototype and the final shape of the product
  • beta testing:  The more accurate the workflow is, the easier the later work becomes. It can be done best by UML (Unified Modelling Language) standards. 
  • Unnecessary welcome page: This strange tradition is slowly coming to a halt where you have either a welcome logo or text leading you onto the actual content.
  • superfluous animation: Too much animation is more distracting. Don’t digress from your content. 
  • Poor color contrast : Remember that drawing class where you learnt about color contrast and aesthetics? Yeah, that applies here as well. always remember every minute detail matters infinitely.
  • Typography: One word, Integral to your design. It’s an element you just cant dodge. always improvise and find the ideal font.
  • Pop-ups and new windows: Admittedly, it is not about the graphical interface, but it is impossible to ignore this error. When you click on a link, the content will open in a new window, and then you usually close it automatically. This is done because most ads open the same way.

and one last thing……

Prototyping: The viewer will be able to feel better, like he’s “flowing” through a real product. Always prototype your every build. In this case, the more the better. 

Good design goes to heaven, Bad design goes everywhere” ~ Mieke Gerritzen


  1. Well written post and a good short and quick cheat sheet for a UI/UX enthusiast.

    One of the traits of UI revolutions that like other technological revolution is it too occurs in waves. The initial euphoria of any new medium or a new interactive device or a new user interface paradigm is based on curiousity of novelty, respect for innovation and want for change due to boredom with the familiar. The last reason can also be attributed to a shift in generation.
    But after the initial euphoria settles and the experimentation and novelty aspect wears off invariably function is what wins and function is what pays the bills through durability.
    So I would add that always ask is my user interface design durable ? Will it stand the test of time and will people yearn for it and demand that it never be changed when the next big thing comes along.
    We are currently going thru yet another revolution in new devices,new technology and medium that has opened a vast potential to redefine user interface and user interaction. In the years to come we will find out who wins this one.
    Any bets ?

  2. I recommend watching the documentary Design is one a biographical documentary on the italian-american designers Lella and Massimo Vignelli.
    They are responsible for creating the modern design and responsible for lot of the architectural and everyday object design all the way from furnitures, New york subway maps to auditoriums to buildings to books and catalogues.
    It can be eye opening of how to view the world when doing a UI or UX design too.

    Its available on netflix but couldnt find a free link online but I am sure a deep search should reveal some.