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The Foundation of great User Interface Design - 7 Key Elements

Whether your website design is the bold and experimental or subtle and traditional, we all want the things we create to not only work well, but look nice too. Of course, design can be subjective, but striving for a well-planned and -engineered layout that solves a problem is a designer’s objective, and when it is achieved, it’s typically recognized as such. We all have instinctive reactions to great design – it’s part of what makes us human.

In the digital world, well-executed design may never be the predominant feature of a site, app, or piece of software, but it will always be the foundation. An optimally designed interface is a balance of two, what some may consider competing, goals. On one hand, a design which stands in the background, quietly guiding the user experience without distraction allowing the user to intuitively find information or perform a task. On the other hand - a design that reels the user in and garners their attention, leaving the user with a lasting and hopefully positive memory of their time on the site.

So, where to begin with achieving successful UI design?

Consideration of these important basic elements of design and their interplay is a great starting point:

  1. ​ Balance: Balance is the impression of equilibrium. It is often referred to as symmetrical, asymmetrical, or radial.
  2. Emphasis: Emphasis refers to the created center of interest, the place in an artwork where your eye first lands.
  3. Movement: Movement refers to the suggestion of rhythm through the use of various elements.
  4. Pattern: Pattern refers to the repetition or recurrence of a design element, exact or varied, which establishes a visual beat.
  5. Proportion: Proportion is the size relationship of parts to a whole and to one another.
  6. Variety: Variety and unity complement each other. Variety refers to elements being different enough to be interesting.
  7. Unity: Unity is achieved when the components of a work of art are perceived as harmonious, giving the work a sense of completion.

Keep in mind that these 7 elements must be planned in accordance with who your target audience is. For example – we recently developed a community type portal for users that include a mature age demographic so fonts are larger, buttons are more prominent and overall look and feel is simplistic in nature.

We find it’s helpful to start with use cases - imagine who your user is and keep them in mind at every step of the process.

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