It’s difficult to imagine a time when society wasn’t glued to a screen.

The breakthrough of computers, engineered by the familiar tech giants of today (Apple and IBM), first accelerated medium- to large-sized business objectives in the mid-1980s.

The emergence of mobile devices, expected to eclipse 3.8 billion global users by 2021, was unleashed when the world’s first SMS message was sent in 1992.

Tablet usage spiked in 2014 and has seen an approximate 50% increase in total monthly users since that year.

So what’s the common denominator in this generational transformation and unwavering demand for ingenious technology? The answer is user interface (UI) design, which has become an underlying factor for the success of user-centric brands that understand how to optimize consumer engagement.

A user interface is the space where interactions between humans and such machines occur. Essentially, UI design relates to the way in which information is presented (and how users interact) within a website. With screen time skyrocketing, the influence of cohesive UI design on consumer affinity has become too palpable to ignore.

Consider the number of generic household products that have taken leaps in usability because of responsive, charismatic UI design. Thermostat brands like Nest Labs and ecobee have built enormous credibility through smart interface features. With a deep lineup of integrated cleaning and beauty products, Chicago-based Dyson has also taken steps to ensure user interface is a central part of product strategy. The list goes on and on.

Well-designed user interfaces have the potential to raise any given website’s conversion rate by up to 200%. Thus, as the concept continues to advance mightily, it’s no secret that the time for re-imagining and pouring resources into thoughtful UI design is now. Its importance simply cannot be overlooked or underestimated. Here are some key principles of compelling UI design that help facilitate an intuitive user experience.

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Strategic Interface Elements

A favorable user interface that feeds into data-driven design will always be comprised of various elements geared towards displaying and conveying content in a way that makes sense to users, even if these users haven’t yet engaged with the interface before. Logical UI design is about propelling a user to achieve his or her goal of visiting a website, and corresponding functional elements within an interface are what permit a user to accomplish what they embark upon. The interface must inspire confidence that it will serve a purpose.

An interface’s input controls like buttons, text fields, and toggles drive action. Navigational components like hamburger menus, breadcrumbs and search fields direct users to various touchpoints within a website. Informational components like icons, progress bars or push notifications specify visual clues or, as suggested, indicate progress. On iPhones, double-pressing the home button (and subsequently revealing all running applications within the screen) is synonymous with being able to close applications on the device. This is a strong example of involuntary resonance and familiarity with an interface. Bottom line, for a user interface to maintain fluent functionality, it’s imperative that the elements within are purposeful and keep users within control of their experience.

Microinteractions

A microinteraction is a specific point of engagement within a user interface. More specifically, microinteractions are the animations and changes of the interface that happen once a user interacts with something, anything. Similar to strategic interface elements, microinteractions are purpose-driven and meant to keep users attentive within an interface. Often times microinteractions can create a sense of urgency around user activity within an interface, or even direct flow of traffic with more immediacy.

There are a number of reasons to power your website with microinteractions, which can encompass the aforementioned strategic interface elements like buttons, menus, transitions and banners, amongst others. For one, microinteractions generate more correlation between the interface and content within, thus improving usability. Because microinteractions can infuse a website with “personality,” they also enable more prolific, alluring branding and recognizability. This is especially true for users that visit certain web pages repeatedly.

Additionally, micro interactions provide users with a method of feedback and instant gratification. Animations not only serve as a visual reference that a user action took place, but also reinforce user control through visual clues. As a whole, microinteractions promote a more seamless desktop or mobile experience.

Symmetry & Consistency

While strategic elements and microinteractions elevate usability, symmetry mainly contributes to an interface’s aesthetics and, perhaps more importantly, retained viewership. With attention spans fading into oblivion, the window of time to keep users on a web page is unbelievably limited. Consistency can relate to the art of language (voice & personality), content layout, graphic design patterns, fonts/typeface or even imagery styles.

More refined design within an interface means users will know what to expect, and what actions should be taken, upon visiting. Symmetry and consistency empowers comfort for users when navigating within an interface. As a result, the user experience becomes more formidable, more efficient, and more inviting than it would be otherwise.

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If history has taught us anything, it’s that innovation cannot and will not stand still. The song remains the same when it comes to clean, calculated user interface (UI) design that speaks to users – and speaks to them clearly.

Roll with the punches of innovation by adopting best practices for user interface design. It’ll be pivotal as the world of breakthroughs and modernization keeps spinning.