HackDesign Lesson 16: UI Design with Purpose
The purpose of UI design, above all else, is to deliver content and make visual sense of well planned out UX.
Important questions to ask are:
- Is what I’m designing usable?
- Does my UI visually communicate the path my UX has laid out?
- The best user interfaces allow the content to shout, while the UI whispers
An article that questions the landmark thought of “Invisible design”.
Is Invisible design a call of only tactile design or touch based interactions?
Some crucial points to think about are:
1. Invisible design propagates the myth of immateriality
Invisible design propogates the myth that technology will ‘disappear’ or ‘just get out of the way’ rather than addressing the qualities of interface technologies that can make them difficult or delightful.
2. Invisible design falls into the natural/intuitive trap
3. Invisible design ignores interface culture
4. Invisible design ignores design and technology history
A powerful article with a lot of links explaining
Skeuomorphism vs flat design - http://sachagreif.com/flat-pixels/
What is Skeuomorphism?
When done right, skeuomorphism and realism will trigger strong associations with real-world counterparts. This is both a strength and a weakness: sometimes, the association can be so strong that it will stop you from improving on what’s already been done.
People use your product because they are trying to get somewhere. You can imagine them standing in front of a chasm with their goal on the other side. They want to do something, but they can’t do it without help. Your product is there to bridge the gap.
To help somebody, a capability has to have two things. Think of it like the two handrails on the bridge. First, it has to be implemented on the back-end. The package has to go on the truck, the client approval has to be saved to disk.
Second, the interface has to offer that implementation to the user. The user has to know it exists, be able to find it, and figure out how to operate it. Designers have a word for this: “affordance.” The interface “affords” the capability to the user.
When it comes to design, thinking about the capability you are affording can help you refocus when you’re lost in details.
Ask yourself: does this change affect whether a user can discover the feature? Does it clarify how to operate it? What am I helping them do right now?
I’m very conscious of whether I am affording a feature or styling it. It’s important to distinguish because they look the same from a distance.
Affording a capability and styling it are both important. But it’s essential to know which one you are doing at a given time. Style is a matter of taste. Capability and clarity are not. They are more objective. That person standing at the edge of the chasm cares more about accomplishing their task than the details of the decor.
"Flat" and "Skeuomorphic" aesthetic, not design.
These pain points go far beyond aesthetic – down to the levels of user experience and usability. Skeuomorphism and Flat are disparate visual solutions, yes, but neither is a solution to the massive usability problem.
Design is a form of problem solving. Never forget that.
Now, it’s not that the apps sucks. In each case, the apps ranged from good to great. They had huge amount of functionality, did unique things that other apps didn’t do, and solved a clear set of problems in a compelling way.
I’ve come to appreciate the important of a single person in the company owning the UX with this person being the arbiter of discussion around how to implement the UX. There’s nothing wrong with lots of different perspectives, but a single mind has to own it, synthesize it, and dictate the philosophy. But first, they have to understand the difference between UI and UX, and – more importantly – the product-oriented execs who approach things from an engineering perspective need to understand this.