When designing a user interface, it’s easy to get lost in the process and forget about the end user. Even though the user interface is designed to create a connection between man and machine, many of us instead focus on the machine rather than the man.
Keeping the user experience in mind must be the constant concern of any UI specialist, because ultimately, usability will determine the project’s success. Starting this process at the beginning, rather than at the project’s completion, is the optimal way to ensure the best user experience.
Before you begin your project, research similar projects for inspiration; gaining a deeper understanding of different business model, approaches and solutions. Dig deep into competitive sites, taking note of everything. Don’t be afraid to spend a lot of time on this step; it will only give you more creative inspiration and increased focus. For detailed instructions on how to approach the research portion of your project read this article.
Similar projects are an excellent source of inspiration, but you also need to understand your client. While the end user must always be kept in mind, the goals of your client are equally as important. Be sure to devote enough time to fully understand your client’s goals before you begin. Additionally, your client may be a well-informed source of information on their competition, design ideas, and usable links. At the beginning of every project, set expectations of clear communication by asking questions, expressing your opinions, and suggesting improvements.
Preparation in the form of both fully understanding the project, and researching similar websites and companies not only drives inspiration, it also saves time. Competitive companies and websites often serve as excellent case studies. They’ve already invested research and user testing and have learned from their mistakes. Best of all, they’ve used that information to improve their project – which could save you the time lost to making the same mistakes.