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What is an interface design?

Zarmeen Zehra

Grokking Modern System Design Interview for Engineers & Managers

Ace your System Design Interview and take your career to the next level. Learn to handle the design of applications like Netflix, Quora, Facebook, Uber, and many more in a 45-min interview. Learn the RESHADED framework for architecting web-scale applications by determining requirements, constraints, and assumptions before diving into a step-by-step design process.

Overview

To understand a user interface design, we must first understand the meaning of a user interface.

User interface

A user interface provides a way of communication between a user and a computer. A user can interact with the computer through an interface by giving inputs, which may be of any form. The computer also takes commands from the user using the interface and provides output. This shows us that there is two-way communication between the user and the computer. Some popular interfaces are graphical user interface (GUI), command-line interface (CLI), and menu-driven interface.

Interface design

Interface design, as the name suggests, refers to creating the model of user interfaces for some software. A UI designer performs this task. Interface design aims to build a user-centered design that is aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. However, not all interface design is good.

Qualities of a good interface design

  • Aesthetically pleasing: The overall appearance of a design should be attractive. This adds to the user experience and satisfaction. Aesthetics will make the design more memorable for the user and help set their mood. The appearance of an interface design can be improved by incorporating themes, using color palettes and other tools.
  • Ensures maximum usability: High usability refers to enhancing the ability of an interface so that it is easy for a user to interact with it and get a good experience. The usability of an interface should be kept to a maximum and must be incorporated into the design to make it exemplary.
  • Consistent: A user will find it easier to use an interface if it is consistent. Consistency refers to having the same elements perform the same behavior and look the same across the interface. A consistent design enhances usability and learnability.
  • Easy to learn: The interface should be designed so that a novice user will not find it challenging to use it for the first time. This quality is called ease of learning.

The importance of a good interface design

Interface design is as essential in building software as technical development. Let’s understand this with an example. Consider a ground-breaking application that offers the best performance among its competitors. However, if it is not easy to use, users will soon move to the competitors for a better experience.

A good interface design does not violate the aim of providing the best experience to the user. To build a good interface, the designer must follow the interface design process, keeping in mind the end user.

How to design an interface

Like any other process, it’s essential to follow a step-by-step procedure while designing an interface. The design process can be iterative, but it is necessary to follow these steps linearly:

Interface design process

  1. Gathering the requirements: Before jumping straight to the implementation, it is necessary first to document the required functionality. The requirements may also include business requirements. Gathering the requirements will help develop a clear view of what must be done.
  2. User analysis: A user-centered design can't be implemented unless we get to know the users. Therefore, this phase in the design process is crucial to extracting information about potential users. For this, information gathering techniques like interviews and questionnaires can be used.
  3. Contextual task analysis: The procedure of the main tasks to be performed using the interface must be observed and evaluated. This process should be done in the context of the environment where the interaction will be carried out. The contextual task analysis will help the designer generate essential user-centered design guidelines.
  4. Implementation: This is where the designer finally implements the design according to the requirements gathered in the previous stages. The implementation can be subdivided into further stages like the conceptual model design and documentation of screen design standards.
  5. Testing: Before deploying the final product, it is vital to test it out. Testing an interface design may include, but is not limited to, compatibility and usability testing.

Conclusion

An interface is a crucial component of a software system and is necessary to develop a good interface design to ensure the best experience for the users.

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Zarmeen Zehra
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Grokking Modern System Design Interview for Engineers & Managers

Ace your System Design Interview and take your career to the next level. Learn to handle the design of applications like Netflix, Quora, Facebook, Uber, and many more in a 45-min interview. Learn the RESHADED framework for architecting web-scale applications by determining requirements, constraints, and assumptions before diving into a step-by-step design process.

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