7 Essential UI Elements for Social Websites
Successful UI elements bridge the gap between a user's needs, web page functionality, and the aims of the web page's host – you.
The essential UI elements of a user interface may be hard to parse out, though, especially in the beginning stages of website development.
A user interface that is accessible, aesthetically pleasing and flexible is ideal when you are looking to use your site to appeal to a larger audience.
Without certain key elements, a user interface may become overly complicated, and the effectiveness of your website may be diminished.
These key UI elements are numerous, but they ensure ease of use on any social website.
This post will discuss some of the features that are essential in keeping a user interface running smoothly.
By employing these UI elements in a site, you can stabilise and ease communication between users and the site, thus ensuring that everything runs as smoothly as possible.
1. Language Accessibility
The Internet has expanded viewing audiences exponentially, which means that, upon creating a website or app, diversity must be kept in mind.
Language accessibility in a user interface requires that you take care to match the concepts of the site to the world in which its users are operating.
Multiple language options, as displayed on most major social media sites, allow all sorts of audiences to understand the web page's message and goals better.
Additionally, it is essential to consider the clarity of a web page's message when working with its user interface.
An over-saturation of jargon may impress specialised viewers of the web page, but it is just as likely to alienate the unfamiliar.
Language accessibility in clarity ensures that an audience will find a website and host approachable, thereby making them all the more willing to interact.
Interaction with UI elements establishes certain expectations within a user, ones that shouldn't be violated to ensure ease of use.
That is not to say that a web page should not ever be updated – rather, updates should come with the advanced warning to avoid thrusting an unpleasant surprise on an unsuspecting audience.
Further than this, though, there should be consistency in the design of a user interface.
The look of a website should remain predictable, and links or processes should be accessible through natural and similar means.
The assumption that this consistency promotes boredom is a flawed thought; rather, a user interface that remains accessible and easy to understand establishes a sense of security in its users, a trait which is all the more likely to bring in a larger viewing audience.
That is not to say that a user interface should remain the same forever.
Slow, approachable change is real and allows for a web page and its message to grow.
Think about updates made to blogging websites such as Tumblr, for example.
Tumblr does its best to send out alerts via text posts regarding site updates.
These updates are not always welcomed with open arms, but Tumblr's communication with its user base ensures that the website's audience is prepared for the change.
Likewise, a user interface may need to take on more abilities as its audience grows.
Be flexible in the creation and prepare to reconfigure as necessary – this will prevent a user interface from stagnating while also ensuring the best ease of use for an audience of users.
4. Customer Service
With the change, though, comes the occasional bug.
First thing's first: don't hesitate to admit when something has gone funky with an update: your candour will be appreciated by your user base.
To continue improvements and cater to a growing audience of users, a user interface must excel in the area of customer service.
Patches should be enacted in a timely and efficient manner, and continued maintenance should occur to keep the bugs from resurfacing.
Furthermore, there will be the occasional glitch that you as the website host will not catch.
To address these harder-to-find issues, you should enable some form of communication between yourself or additional site moderators and your user base.
Allow your audience to contact the appropriate parties with alerts or opinions via comments, a deliverable form, or a specialised email to make their voices heard.
This direct line of communication can be altered to best suit the kind of website the user interface is operating on.
To lack one, however, is to establish a disconnect between host and user – the exact sort of thing a user interface is working against.
Consider, as well, the user interface's aesthetic.
Users are put at ease by a well put together website, and while consistently sized links, articles, or functions add to this appeal, the overall aesthetic of the user interface sets the tone for user interaction within the first five seconds of the website's loading.
Take, for example, Flirt.com, an American dating site.
Within the first several seconds of the site's loading, users are greeted with a pastel background, easy-to-understand registration, and straightforward explanations of the site.
There are no neon backgrounds nor unreadable blocks of text.
The host has taken into account its audience and created a homepage with a user interface that understands whom it is working for.
This is an essential feature of a successful user interface.
It is equally important, when considering the aesthetic of a user interface, to ensure that style does not compromise readability.
Take steps to arrange your content appropriately, with reasonable amounts of separating space between individual text blocks, images, videos, and so on.
You will want to take care, as well, to ensure that the visual-to-text ratio of your content is balanced.
There's no set formula for how much visual content – images, videos, .gifs, and so on – should be paired with text content, but use common sense and consider other social websites that are flourishing.
Use enough visual stimuli to attract the eye without overwhelming it, and you will be on the right track.
6. Up to Date
Keeping a user interface “up to date” depends on the kind of social interaction you are looking to promote among users.
What all social websites need to do, however, is holding a user's attention.
Sites like Twitter and Facebook, for example, update their users with in-the-moment hashtags and news blurbs.
These updates allow users to feel like they are on top of the worlds going on and leaves them free to discuss them, either through content that they create in the form of tweets or statuses or through easily shareable content caused by other users.
If you create shareable content, as well, you will want to remain on top of the news and trends your users consider most important.
Updating users in this manner should not hinder social interaction; rather, it is meant to facilitate and improve communication between users.
This improved communication will lead to greater traffic on your website and all the more opportunities to improve your user interface.
All of the UI elements above build up to one central thesis: a user interface on a website should be user-focused.
Users are the ones who choose how they interact with a host's website; if the site is not tailored to them, they are unlikely to spend their time on it.
Take again to Flirt.com and notice how individualised the profile creation process is, how the site updates users every time they receive a message.
The site is tailored to its user's needs and is all the more effective for it.
The more connected a user feels to the interface, the more engaged with that interface they are likely to be.
It cannot be under-emphasised: when creating a social website, the user interface must be designed with the user in mind.
Aesthetic, service, and clarity of message all serve to cycle back to this point, because, without a user, a user interface cannot exist.
The Internet continues to expand on a daily basis, offering up all sorts of new entertainment, news, and ways to interact socially with others.
To stand out, a website must have a fantastic user interface, one that keeps the needs of its users at the forefront of its function.
The list presented here includes some of the features that allow a user interface to run smoothly.
What differentiates an interface and website on the Internet is the creativity of creators such as yourself.
Some of the features mentioned in this post can be modified, and the Internet is ideal for a sort of innovative, off-brand mind.
If you find that your user interface alters some of these “essentials”, never fear.
The goal of these Ui elements is benevolent at heart: they promote ease of use and thereby improved interaction between your website and the folks you want to draw to it.
The rest of the creative process is up to you.