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Good Design in 21st Century
As the human race step into new eras, their needs and likes evolve accordingly. Man is trying constantly to make his life easier by inventing tools that are simpler in terms of their usage, yet provide more efficient results as compared to their older versions. The same goes for modern computer technology, which is seen to be reigning over every aspect of their lives.
Like every other product that humans have to use, the interface of the digital services has to be attractive to its users in every way possible. The resources over which these are present, such as websites or web, mobile and desktop applications, have to be designed in such a way that the users can easily interact with them while being pleased by the display and satisfied by the results. There are many characteristics that need to be considered in design whilst deciding whether it deserves to be awarded the title of “good design” in the present century. Some of them are explained below:
- Soothing colors
One of the first things that a person notices about anything is its color. While bright shades may help the product stand out, they also might make it uncomfortable to see for many users. The safer option is to always opt for calm yet bold colors. Medium and lighter tones of blue, purple, red, pink, grey, and even orange and yellow are popular among the modern generation.
- Contrasting color scheme
For the elements of the application to be clearly visible, it is important that they don’t blend with each other. All the content should be in a contrasting color from the background so it pops up and grabs the user’s attention. Also, different groups of elements, such as buttons, icons, and links, should be in different colors to make them easily distinguishable.
- Consistent theme
Having the application follow a consistent design pattern helps the users learn their way around quickly while giving it a more professional look. The use of similar font families, colors, icon packs and positions of related elements throughout the whole system makes the design more stable looking and easily digestible.
- Gradual transitions
When introducing a new panel, message box or other similar kinds of control on the current screen, abrupt appearance might startle the users. Slow animations such as sliding or fading in and out make the presentation finer and smoother.
- Use of images
There is no doubt in the fact the pictures tend to attract the audience more than any other design component. Relevant images can be used to help users to visually imagine what the content means while adding appeal to the service. However, excessive images might take more time to load, hence increasing the overall loading time of the application.
- Text alignment
No matter how good the textual content of an application is, it would not really matter if the user does not read it. Apart from giving the text readable font size, style, and color, it should also be given a suitable alignment. Ideal alignments are considered to be left or justified. Also, adding hierarchy wherever needed is always better as it groups the content in small yet appropriate chunks, making it understandable that what belongs where. Moreover, it gives the illusion of a smaller text length, thus viewers don’t shy away from reading it.
Clear and Simple:
- Grouped similar functions
Application design is complete chaos if its content is scattered all over the screen. Assembling similar types of functionalities together makes it easier for the user to find them. For example, all kinds of contact information, no matter it is for a query, complaint or placing an order, should be found under one link or tab.
- Distinct clickables
Buttons and links are of no use to the application if the user cannot click them easily. Thus, it is important that they are big enough to be clickable by whatever input device the user is using. Furthermore, the colors of these elements should be contrasting with other elements and the background so they can be detected by the user’s eye.
- Space between elements
Users feel more inclined to interact with an interface that is clean and easily visible. Adding appropriate margins and paddings to the elements is essential to avoid overcrowding within the application design.
- Brief content
The complex design does not impress the audience, rather it overwhelms them. The use of too many elements, components with extra rich colors or shapes, and providing users with unwanted information is harmful to the user experience.
- Easy language
Modern people don’t usually put up an effort to search for something they can’t understand in the first place. Therefore, using technical terms in the application is pretty much useless. Users are comfortable with reading short and brief phrases, so using conversational language that is comprehensible and straightforward, along with having a slightly friendly tone, ensures a stronger interaction relationship with them.
- Universal standards
It is always easier to understand the use of something if one can recognize it from some past experience. Commonly used functionalities and design patterns, such as the use of a magnifying glass icon for the search option and gear icon for settings, five stars to show user ratings, as well as shortcuts for interactions like pinching to zoom etc. are widely used among efficiently designed applications to make the usability easier for the audience.
- User guide users for what to do, help option, input suggestions
What is the use of all the hard work over any product if a user cannot find their way with it? A successful design has components having descriptive labels, or at least tooltips to explain their functions. If the application is offering some kind of phased service, users are guided step by step to achieve the required result. The best applications also provide a separate help section containing answered FAQs, demos and message options in case users still have a query.
- Undo Redo option
Users often abandon a product if the mistakes they made by it are not undoable or if the results they received are not satisfactory. To avoid creating such situations, a good design always provides them with the freedom to undo or redo their actions as much as can be possible.
- Less input
Reduced quantity of input demanded from the users increases the level of their eagerness to use the application more frequently. The application should provide results after having to click a minimal number of menus, buttons or links. Users should not be asked for any extra information other than what is extremely essential. The user’s load can also be eased down by providing suggestions or pre-filled information gathered from previous interactions when filling a form.
- Fast loading
Modern people are somewhat impatient and want their work done as quickly as possible. Slow loading pages causes boredom and annoyance among the audience. It is necessary the application uses minimal images and external references that could weigh down its total size, slowing down its speed. Fast and responsive results ensure that the users stay pleased with the whole experience of the service.
Transparent in Functionality:
- Simultaneous alerts
When it comes to interacting with a product, people mostly don’t like surprises. In cases such as when users are providing some information, the better approach is to detect any error at the same time instead of checking and notifying the users after they have submitted the data. That way, they can correct their mistakes as soon as they make them.
- Current status
One of the main characteristics of an efficiently designed application is that the users are informed about the current happenings in the system at relevant intervals of time. Users are content if they know what the immediate results of their actions are, like if a request is loading or has been approved or canceled, or if the information they provided has been validated yet or is still processing, etc.
- Honest labels
The purpose of a good design is to provide the user with a satisfying experience. This can never be done if some action happens without the user’s knowledge or consent. Each element should clearly be describing its function and should only perform it, nothing else. For example, the user should navigate to a new page only when he clicks somewhere that says that it will do so, rather than upon clicking an image or a textbox, etc.
No matter what the age is, a good design is always the one that understands the user requirements and provides customized results accordingly. 21st century is considered to be the “Digital age”. People expect speedy, accurate yet attractive services to engage their attention while fulfilling their needs. Thus, modern applications can only be considered upright if they are designed carefully while keeping all these aspects in mind.