When you go online and click into a website, the last thing you want to do is be confused. The internet should be simple, fast, and easy to navigate! It should do everything for you that you cannot do yourself! Okay, so maybe the last part is not entirely true, but with all the websites and options we have online today, we sure do treat the internet that way. What happens if you click into a website and it has a confusing navigation system, you cannot seem to register easily, or you get a slew of error problems? Naturally, you will either: click out of the website, throw your hands up in the air in frustration, e-mail customer service or the site’s help center, or, all of the above. The only solution to keep any of these problems from occurring is to have a proper and navigation-friendly user interface design, or UI pattern. Maybe you are a graphics designer, an applications developer, or a heavy internet user interested in learning more about the best user interface patterns that you should be aware of. We are here to get you in the know, so read on before you click into another pesky website!
What are UI Design Patterns?
User Interface Design patterns is what web-designers and application creators alike reference to get the best and more efficient layouts for their sites or applications. We have all come across website designs that make us want to pull our hair out. Luckily, however, the internet provides many helpful and convenient UI pattern solutions to help fix those web design problems that can be reoccurring.
Although some web designers might think that being creative or outlandish with their layouts, sometimes the best way to go about providing a platform for users is to keep things simple and consistent. Which is why, we are going to fill you in on some of the best user interface patterns.
Most Effective UI Design Patterns
Without further ado, here are a handful of some of the most effective user interface design patterns that you should keep in mind when thinking about designing a website or application. Bookmark these for later!
Page Grinds: Page grinds are there to make a website’s content stay organized. By keeping your content organized with proper alignment and proportions, your website will come off looking very clean and not busy. Aside from creating organization, website grinds can also be there for a purpose. When you first look at a website, there are obviously points of the page that your eyes fall on first. Page grinds help develop and display first and secondary points of interest. It is up to the designer or website owner to decide where they might like the reader’s eyes to go towards first. This can also be seen as marketing at work! Websites need specific places for ads and branding in addition to the regular content that is displayed.
Here is a general outline of how a grind might be displayed:
- Branding: top left.
- Navigation: towards the top.
- Content: in the middle.
- Ads: to the right of the page; generally in the secondary point of interest spot.
Vertical Navigation Bar: Although it depends on the amount of content that the website has when choosing between a vertical or a horizontal navigation bar, generally the vertical navigation bar is the way to go when you want to make things look compact and in place. Especially if you have a lot of content, a vertical navigation bar will help organize it and make everything more readable in a nice sequence.
Horizontal Navigation Bar: On the other hand, for websites that are trying to go for a more simplistic look and feel, a horizontal navigation bar can prove to be a nice and interactive solution. The handy thing about horizontal navigation bars is that they are very noticeable. At the top of the page, they will generally be the first or second thing that a user’s eyes will fall towards. Additionally, a horizontal navigation bar can be a huge space saver, especially if you want would rather the meat of your site be saved for contents.
Modular Tabs: These are similar to the horizontal navigation bar, except in the form of tabs. However, modular tabs allow for a lot of different design options. They are helpful on websites that are content heavy, and have especially become popular on blogs, such as Word press.
Breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs are a very useful user interface pattern to represent hierarchy. As you click into pages on a website, you will sometimes notice that these pages are nested and are organized into levels. Breadcrumbs are there to show you the order that you clicked through on the page, in case you might want to backtrack over certain topics later. In other words, Breadcrumbs can help users see where they are in relation to where they were before on the site, as well as keeping track of their search as they are narrowing down their options.
Archives: You will notice that any large library or place with information has archives. What about online? Other than your online history, are there any other ways that you can retrace your steps online? This is where archives come in handy. With archives, you can easily retrace your steps in a simple and organized way. Try to keep your page organized by categorizing your archives by date and category for quick and easy accessibility.
Lazy Registration: If you are a web designer, you have probably heard about this one: lazy registration. If you spend decent amount of time online, there is a good chance that a website has required that you register for one thing or another. Lazy registration allows users to use the website and navigate before actually disclosing their information, signing up, or logging in to purchase a product. By the end of their navigation around the site, users generally feel more at ease with signing up and want to get it out of the way anyhow.
Forgiving Format: Often times when you go into a website, you want everything to be quick. Basically, you expect the computer to know what you are thinking and talking about—because they can do everything for us, right? Forgiving format is one of the closest things to computers being able to narrow down our thoughts for us. If you need to search for something, some design options will have various searching criteria options to help you search more efficiently. Additionally, the forgiving format gives us hints on how to search, links, and examples. We don’t even have to think!
Things to Keep In Mind:
- Know your users: It is important to keep in mind the type of users that will be clicking into your site. Knowing your demographic can better allow you to tailor your website to suit their needs.
- Consistency: This is important for any type of program that people have to navigate themselves. Once they get used to something, they expect it to be generally similar when they go back. Frequent changes or design shifts might confuse or decrease user likeability.
- Mistakes Happen: No matter how user-friendly you might think your site is, users are going to make mistakes or mis-click as they are clicking around. Keep this in mind as you are designing your site to implement undo actions or error messages that can guide and help users to the right actions.
Get Your Pattern On
User Interface Design patterns are there to help users simplify their lives. There are a good amount of other patterns that might appeal to you, as well as steps on how to go about implementing these wonderful techniques on your web page. Be sure to click over to Udemy.com for more helpful courses covering user interface patterns, and start designing away!