Understanding User Interface design is only effective when the UI designer is subject to a variety of UI devices across a range of platforms and consoles. Alongside the popular usage of online browsers and applications, watching movies with 3D visual effects, using apps, playing video games and experiencing as many types of public embedded computers all count towards our weekly exposure of what counts as 'good user experience' and what doesn't.
The words "You can't design android apps for an android phone when you don't use the hardware" echo from a recent design conference held in Belgium. The ease of designing new interfaces should be the same regardless of our daily preferred devices.
UI Has To Be Translatable
Travelling is a great way for a designer to do his or her own interesting research on international user interfaces. It can teach a designer about ease of use when it comes to withdrawing money from international ATMs, eg selecting your preferred language to check balances in the Middle East. Contrastingly, the challenges of buying both adult and child tickets in separate transactions, from a ticket vending machine at an underground station in Paris. (Moreover, selecting Marnee La Vallee Chessy as the destination because surprisingly, the more popular tourist names are not an option.)
When it comes to using foreign embedded computers like these, the main objective for users is often bifold; find the right button to get onto the next stage and in as less time as possible. A highly satisfying user experience can make or break that users accompanying journey and it all depends on how well -
(i) the system communicates the translated language to the user
(ii) user acceptance testing has been carried out by users from all backgrounds
If screen layout is complicated with unnecessary information displayed on every screen, users face the challenge of where to focus.
With more customer and patient faced UI computers being introduced at supermarket self checkouts and GP surgeries to reduce queue sizes, the traditional roles of receptionists and cashiers being replaced with robotic functions, is a sign we're well on our way to the next generation of computerised living. On this note, its worth a mention, our local GP surgery has accomplished a simple design of check-in for patients, to input their date of birth only.
The Role of a UI Designer
With websites, mobile apps and applications being the most common interfaces web agencies contribute to, it's important to keep up to date with the design industry on software releases and updates. This competition in the design software industry is excellent for designers.
What other ways can a designer get aligned with design rules that apply to specific Operating Systems? Apple have published an online library packed with guidelines for their OS user interfaces. A large compilation with basic fundamentals which are 'principal' to good design. Apple, similarly to Microsoft and Google also host their own Developer Conferences. If you're quick, you can book onto one of their available design sessions at their Developer Conferences.
Platform knowledge is significant for a designer
Understanding operating systems is vital
Keeping up to date with design tools is also key
How To Design UI to Meet Client Expectations
When a client hands you their brief and you go away to create a mock up based on their initial requests, you could be taking the long route to client satisfaction and meeting project deadlines on time. Close client communication at the initial stages requires your time. Literally, sitting at the key stakeholders desk and drawing the design in Sketch with them will get you on the same page sooner. Rather than creating what you think they want.
Working collaboratively at the beginning builds better working relationships. Understanding their problem and the reasons why they need a UI designing in the first place will ensure you're thinking on the same wavelength as their business brief.
Present initial concepts to your client face to face, and then going forward, feel free to screen share progressive interfaces via Skype, Basecamp, Slack or video presentations. It will mean a lot more to them if they're involved in their design's initial progress. There's a mutual agreement on what forms the basis of the design, before the designer's real innovation can enter (why they are here in the first place). Next, the feedback cycle, giving the client continual gateways to reassess the design for further approval.
Design Versus Prototype
Creating the final fully interactive prototype takes time and hours of coding by our developers, so it's not always possible to show a client the final piece straight away. Unless there's something similar built for another client, but even then every project is unique, so it's impossible to see the final result even in previous case studies. The market is so unique, that no two competitors will ever offer the exact services to stand out.
So there's a balance between showing the client an idea and how much you develop it to the final prototype. Fortunately, there are programs such as After Effects (AE) where you create the frames and animation, before adding advanced 3D features that you can't do with a static image.
A clever concept by Bret Victor shows the simplicity of creating an animation or 3D path using your finger to control the movement of a leaf falling from a tree in Autumn, followed by a bunny hopping away into a winter scene, using three different poses it can change into.
This simple animation created in minutes is recorded using your hands, opposing traditional methods of creating several frames to keep repositioning the leaf. Bret's application was built upon his main concern that we 'need better tools to do our design work'.
At Kalexiko, we design the visual concept in Sketch. Previously we would code into HTML before sending coded URL to the client, however the main issue with this was any alterations requested by the client, meant the code had to changed again. So we went back to just designing in Sketch and showing the client the still image whilst explaining how the gestures will work.
New Technology Interfaces - How Well Will They Cope?
Most of us are familiar with the smooth line interface experiences on our phones. Apple Watch with its smaller screen is now seeing it's surge in the market; despite its screen size limitations of not performing all the functions of an iPhone, it works both ways - the iPhone cannot perform many of the watch functions like monitoring your heart rate.
Lastly we just wanted to mention Google Glass. We have yet to see the intimate user experience from this hands free, voice activated device. It brings along with it interesting conformities such as how contact lens wearers or perfect visionaries that detest wearing glasses, will adopt this piece of technology. Will it be worn as a fashion statement, for functional use or both? We predict it slowly evolving into a Star Trek Assistant, as the acceptable daywear worn from morning till night that will transform many affluent technology lovers in every continent.