I want to share some thoughts about the interfaces, sometimes passing into tips and comments. I note that all the time we meet with various online services, so when I say the interface - I mean not only the classic windows of desktop applications, but also the interfaces found on the web). I hope this information will be useful for someone, but for more experienced ones, it’s just a convenient wording of what they already know (which, incidentally, as practice shows, is also very useful).
I would like to note right away that interface design has very little in common with graphic design and, especially, visual art. And just knowledge about the theory of color, shape and object is not enough.
You need to start working on the interface at the design stage, and to be precise, at the “design of interaction” stage, otherwise it will turn into screwing buttons and dice (earlier, many designers in portfolios hung their custom skins for any winamps and called it interface design). In general, in this matter it is best to go precisely from the user and his needs, from his behavior. Abstracting from all that heap of functionality that we want to give him. It is necessary to imagine (and it is better to document, at least for internal use) what the main scenarios of his behavior will be, and also where and what he wants to click on (in principle, design issues are worthy of separate mention).
The basis of the visual interface are visual templates.
Looking at any interface, the user asks questions - “What's interesting?”, And almost immediately - “What is the relationship between these objects?”. And yes - he should get answers to these questions almost immediately. The connections between the elements should always be the same throughout the use of the interface (if we have all the tooltips closed with a cross, then we do not need to suddenly enter the Close button somewhere). The user very quickly gets used to a certain grouping of elements, how and where they act, and begins to apply this experience to all pages and screens of this interface.
Create a visual hierarchy
Users hardly notice a qualitative visual hierarchy. CATHO, her absence immediately catches the eye and causes confusion. Elements can have many properties, the change of which allows you to select them, to establish a relationship (color, saturation, contrast, size and position). However, it is best to use only one of them. And it’s worth choosing a certain “base” and moving from it to the smaller side. Those. if we find out that two elements of different importance compete for the user's attention, “fastening the wick” of less important will be a better solution than trying to “ignite” the more important one (if all the words are in bold red font, is at least one of them highlighted?).
Do not forget about the logical route
The composition of all elements should not only follow the grid (alignment and grid are generally one of the most important techniques in design), but also form an effective and logical route for the user through the interface. In this case, one must remember the fact that the gaze moves from top to bottom and from left to right (for Western languages). In this case, technologies for tracking eye movements are very helpful (for those to whom they are available, of course), although very obvious blunders can also be caught by simple testing on a group of people.
Avoid visual “noise”
Visual noise in the interface arises from redundant graphic elements that distract attention from elements directly related to functionality. Optional decorative and overly “voluminous” elements, abuse of lines and other separators between controls, inappropriate or overly intensive use of color, texture and contrast - all this does not affect the interface in the best way.
In the end, I will once again speak on the topic of beauty and functionality. Designers are not artists. Artists create objects that cause an “aesthetic response”, this is self-expression on a certain topic (although many modern “designers” strive to create something as incomprehensible and abstract as possible). Designers, by contrast, create objects for other people. And if we talk about interface designers, then they should in the best way convey information about how the program or service that they design works (rather than drawing, decorating, tidying, etc.).
In our Aytronic, we are also actively trying to convey all these thoughts to clients, but so far with varying success. Unfortunately, many continue to judge the work of designers by the "amount of paint poured onto the screen", and not by the meaning and tasks solved.