UI users are already well-equipped to navigate and use mobile and web applications. Since there is already a familiarity of use, they know intuitively what to look for and where to go. This is also why UI/UX designers are encouraged to stick to tried and tested UI elements in their designs.

Designing UI elements isn’t just limited to designing clever buttons or impressive icons. There’s more than meets the eye, and each piece is crucial in rendering an interface’s usability.

Before we proceed, let’s make a quick pit stop to understand the difference between UI elements and UX elements. While both are equally important, and one can’t exist without the other – it’s essential to know why we need both UX and UI components.

Here’s what we learned from Educative.

Unlike UI elements, user experience elements are divided into five sections, from abstract to concrete. The bottom layer is abstract and moves up to the concrete. The five elements are strategy, scope, structure, skeleton, and surface. Each layer depends on the layer below it.

The main components of user interface design differ from that of UX design in terms of functionality, placement, and what it means for the outcome. UI design can take shape only when the five elements of UX design are set in stone.

What are the four critical elements of UI design?

 User interface elements are primarily divided into four key buckets:

  1. Input controls
  2. Navigational components
  3. Informational components
  4. Containers

Input Controls

Input controls allow users to feed information into the system’s interface. They are interactive UI components on the interface providing a large variety of controls. Input controls include elements like checkboxes, list boxes, buttons, toggles, and text fields, among others.

Checkboxes allow the user to select one or more options from a set of cohesive options. For instance, when ordering a sandwich, a customizable list may present options for different types of sauces as checkboxes in one vertical list. On the other hand, radio buttons only allow one option selection at a time.

Users can only select one item at a time in a dropdown menu, but it is space-saving. List boxes allow users to select multiple items at a time.

Buttons are typically portrayed using icons or are labeled or both and indicate an item when tapped or clicked. A dropdown button houses other buttons that display a dropdown list of mutually exclusive items.

To understand toggle buttons, all you must do is think of the ON/OFF button. The toggle button gives the user the option to choose between two states. Text fields are created for users to enter more information if the answer they want is unavailable in dropdown lists or menus.

Navigational Components

One of the most critical components in UI design, navigational UI controls allow designers to create, analyze, and implement. They make navigation through a website or app easier for the user. All navigational components aim to get the user from point A to B in the least number of steps possible.  All navigational components aim to get the user from point A to B in the least number of steps possible.

Imagine Amazon without a search button! Chaos! That’s when a search box comes in super handy. It allows the user to enter a keyword or phrase to arrive at the most relevant results. Search boxes are typically designed as single-line text buttons followed by a search button. Breadcrumbs inform the user of their current location within the system so that they can identify a clickable trail.

We may joke endlessly about Page 2 on Google but imagine how disorganized it would be without the segregation of pages. Pagination divides content up into individual pages, allowing the user to follow the order of the pages or entirely skip some. Tags allow users to find content falling in the same bucket. At Pepper Square, our blogs are divided into separate categories through tags like ‘App Development’, ‘UI UX Design’, ‘Food’, and more.

Sliders, not the juicy bites of heaven, but the ones also known as track bars, allow users to set or adjust a value. The value can change without affecting other integral interface elements. Although it may not seem like a navigational element, icons play a crucial role in intuitive path progression. They are hyperlinked, and a simplified image serving as a straightforward symbol helps users navigate the system more smoothly.

Information components

Without information components, a UI would be incomplete. It keeps the user informed throughout the journey and helps the user course-correct if they face difficulties with the interface.

The trusted old notification button needs no introduction. It typically announces an update or a message for the user to see or prompt action. They indicate the completion of a task, a reward, or even an error or warning message. While on a user journey, some interfaces display a progress bar to show the user how far they’ve come. They are typically not clickable.

To help the user, a tooltip can be incorporated into the interface as a user interface control. It allows the user to see hints when they hover over a field or its purpose. Much like notifications, message boxes appear as small windows with information for users to act to move forward.

Containers

 A container contains page elements to a reasonable maximum width to accommodate the size of a user’s screen.

Accordions are vertically stacked lists of items that show or hide functionality. Clicking on a label expands the section to reveal the content within.

Once you’ve mastered the art of designing all UI elements, you must adhere to the rule of good UI design.

The Golden Rules for User Interface Design

 Before beginning any UI design, remember to put the user at the heart of the design. By giving the user control of the interface, you allow them to drive the design.

  • The aim of all interfaces should be to make them comfortable for the user. Stick to familiar themes and patterns.
  • Reduce cognitive loads. Cognitive Load Theory states that since the brain can only do so many things simultaneously. Hence, we should be deliberate in what we ask it to do.
  • Consistency is key – through all user interfaces. Ensure the color scheme, the typography, and everything else flows coherently.

While UI elements play a significant role in creating and dreaming of an impressive user interface, the secret sauce is applying design thinking at every stage. By practicing design thinking and a host of other rules at Pepper Square, we’ve mastered the art of understanding the core of UI elements and how to use them best. Come, join us over a cup of tea. We’ll tell you all our secrets.

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Author

Alka is the Design Director at Pepper Square and she has defined the user experience for some of the finest global brands over the last seven years.

Alka is the Design Director at Pepper Square and she has defined the user experience for some of the finest global brands over the last seven years.

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