Finding Balance in UI/UX Design

Jasmine Beeman

August 3, 2020
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Source: Jasmine Beeman 

When creating a mobile application,standing out from the competition is necessary for engaging users and generating profit. The natural temptation then is to create outside-the-box user experiences in order to differentiate from other apps – however, adhering to certain standard design principles does help familiarize new users and keep them coming back. Finding balance has helped elevate our products and landed us several accolades including DesignRush’s Top App Development Companies of 2020.

So, we’d like to share some guidelines to keep in mind when thinking about the visual aesthetics and user experience of your next project.

Let’s dive in , we hope you enjoy!

Common Design Practices

1. Screen Tapping

Any tappable elements should be optimized for use by human fingers, regardless of shape or size. As our screens get bigger, being able to easily tap (whether you use one hand or two) remains critical. It is critical to think about button size and key element placement.

Trying to navigate an app on mobile devices with small buttons that exist outside the navigable “green zone” warrants multiple taps and user frustration. Mathematical models showing how users interact with tools that have been developed prove that larger targets yield faster action, and therefore improved usability.

Next time during designing, keep in mind how far out of reach a component might be for the user. Doing early usability testing during the wireframe phase can help achieve a better user experience before moving on to mockups.

 

2. Intuitive navigation

Every user’s journey through your mobile application should be as streamlined and simple as possible. Using icons that clearly signify their purpose, keeping tab bars consistent throughout the app, and communicating the user’s current location in menus are all important elements of an intuitive flow. In the Swenson He design process, we strive to make key actions achievable in four taps or less. This model ensures that the product is easy-to-use and helps to boost user retention rates.

Source: Swenson He for Scotts Miracle-Gro

3. Color Theory

Since the human attention span has become increasingly short, text-heavy interfaces typically appear clunky and bulky, potentially turning users away. Therefore, using color as a visual cue to inform the user of valuable information can help capture that focus. 

Additionally, color can be used more broadly to tap into a user’s psychology. While warm colors, like red or yellow, communicate enthusiasm and passion, cooler blues and greens evoke a sense of professionalism and calm; keep these color attributes in mind when selecting a color scheme that matches the goals of your product.

Also, keep mind that you don’t have to use all the colors in the rainbow. Using too many colors can become distracting for the user, especially on a small screen. It also shows you might not be sure what direction you want your product to convey. Stick with 2 or 4 colors and play with different shades of grey. Don’t forget that imagery adds color too so if you’re looking to add more color, try to pick vibrant images that complement your color scheme.

Source: Jasmine Beeman 

4. Streamline Forms

Whenever you need to collect information from a user, require them to input as little text as possible. Forms that allow users to checkboxes or select from a dropdown menu generate higher conversion rates, as having to type out information into several different fields is tedious and leads to the improperly entered text.

Source: on Dribbble

5. Reuse & Recyle

Design is a collaborative art; taking inspiration from other artists, whether it be an illustration, print design, or another mobile application, is encouraged. Don’t shy away from following current UI/UX trends or implementing features seen across other apps and mediums. For example, following the minimalist interface trend that dominates much of the mobile app market will attract an audience that has been conditioned to using “less-is-more” apps. Functionality elements that new audiences already feel comfortable navigating makes the familiarization process as natural as possible and drives user acquisition. 

Cool Tip: If you’re feeling uninspired while designing, take a break, step back, and clear your mind. Visiting websites such as awwards.com, Dribbble, or Behance may drum up the inspiration you needed. It’s also okay to get inspiration from your past designs. If you find yourself thinking back to an element or component you previously designed that may fit the current situation you’re designing for, use it. Think about recycling before reinventing the wheel. 

Areas to Innovate

1. Clear, recognizable branding

A unique name, eye-catching icon, color scheme, font pairing, and overall design vision are all vital ingredients to create a well-thought-out, purposeful brand for your mobile app. Brand recognition serves as an essential marketing tool, so generating a visually enticing identity that differentiates your business from the competition can help drive user traffic.

Source: on Dribbble

2. Animations

While it is important to stick to a consistent, streamlined navigation flow, applying some creativity to the “in-between” steps can attract users and contribute to building a brand image. New animation tools like Lottie mean you can add more animations without making your app too big/heavy to download.

Animating your logo on the splash screen while the app loads or spicing up traditional gestures with captivating screen transitions can give your mobile app a modern flair and entice users to keep returning to the product. Micro-animations are also increasingly popular as they can help bring your app to life: something as small as a shapeshifting hamburger menu for example, can add to your app’s visual identity and dynamism.

As always, keeping the user at the forefront of all design decisions is key; make sure that animations do not hinder the user’s journey throughout the app. 

Source: on Dribbble

3. Innovative Navigation 

A new user experience that innovates in the way information is presented, or what a user does to navigate different components,can be highly impactful as long as the learning curve isn’t too steep, and it adds to the user experience/is in line with your products value-add.

Snapchat is a good example of a ‘new’ type of navigation that can seem confusing at first, but in fact makes the entire user experience feel unique in the end.

 

Conclusion

UI/UX Design is about so much more than the appearance of an application; it is a critical component in acquiring users and keeping them engaged. Therefore, following basic user experience guidelines and current trends reduces onboarding friction for new users and motivates existing ones to reopen the product.

However, mobile app success is dependent upon creating a distinct identity that elicits recognition and differentiation from competition. The UI/UX process often becomes a push-pull relationship between your needs combined with industry standards and opportunities for innovation.

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