Semrush Hero Banner

What Makes a Good User Interface? 10 Principles of UI Design

What Makes a Good User Interface? 10 Principles of UI Design

We are often told how important a good user interface (UI) is, but not many people can describe the underlying principles of good design. So, we turned to the experts – UX and UI designers – and asked them to tell us what makes a good user interface.

When we think about user interfaces, our minds usually go to websites, mobile apps, and desktop programs. But design is one of the most important things you can use to make a compelling user experience. Every product, service, website, and app is a visual experience. So if you're planning to develop a product, it's essential to consider the technical and visual aspects. 

It's also essential to consider user experience design from the point of view of a user. So if you're making a product or a website, it's vital to make sure that you consider a variety of factors that can affect how your users will interact with it.

How would you describe the difference between a bad and a good user interface? When we talk about user interface design, we often think about aesthetics. For instance, we think about colour and typography and graphics. But there is more to UI design than that.

1 – Identify Your Audience

Identify Target Audience Users

A good user interface design for your website is one of the critical aspects that make your website attractive and usable for your customers.

So, it's indispensable to identify the target audience for user interface design. User interface design helps the users to navigate and explore the website adequately. User interface design is the process of making web pages look good.

When designing a website for a specific group of people, you must consider the language they are comfortable with, their age, interest, and profession. These things should be taken into consideration when you design your user interface.

First, you must ask yourself what kind of information you want to give your audience. Is it simple or complex? Is it a short or long form of information?

These are the things you have to think about.

Second, you need to identify your target audience.

You need to ensure that you are targeting a group of people who will appreciate your content and find it helpful. It would be best to consider gender, age, education level, occupation, income, etc.

Finally, you need to develop a design based on the information you obtained from the previous step.

Here are a few tips to help you design a good user interface.

  • Use images. Images are easy to understand. It helps in creating a visual impression in people's minds. You can use images to make a product look better. Images also help in improving the user experience.
  • Use videos. Videos are great if you want to explain something in detail. You can add a video to explain how to do something. It also allows you to demonstrate how to do something.
  • Be creative. It doesn't matter if you are a beginner or an experienced designer. You can create anything you want if you have a creative mind. You can be creative by using colours, icons, pictures, shapes, text, etc.
  • Focus on content. Content is essential to creating a good user interface design. People need to know what you are trying to say through your design. It should not be too complicated.
πŸ‘‰ Read More:  Top 5 Logo Design Trends to Know

A good user interface design for your website is one of the critical aspects that make your website attractive and usable for your customers. So, it's indispensable to identify the target audience for user interface design. 

When designing a website for a specific group of people, you must consider the language they are comfortable with, their age, interest, and profession. These things should be taken into consideration when you design your user interface.

2 – Understand Your Goals

Understanding the goals for your user interface design is the first step toward creating a successful product.

It doesn't matter if you're a freelancer or part of a larger design team; understanding user interface design goals is crucial to making great-looking products.

Here's how to get started on understanding your goals for UI design.

User Interface Design Goals:

User interface design goals fall into two categories: functional and non-functional. Functional UI design goals should ensure users understand how to use the product.

Non-functional UI design goals should focus on making sure the product looks good.

The following are three non-functional UI design goals.

1: Make sure your product looks great.

This includes ensuring the product has nice colours, images, and fonts. In addition, make sure the product has a great user experience.

2: Creating a product that is easy to understand.

You can ensure a clear call to action (CTA) and a straightforward navigation structure on the homepage.

You can also create a visual hierarchy that helps the users understand the product.

3: Creating a product that feels fast and fluid.

You can achieve this by using animations and transitions.

Whether you are a freelancer or part of a larger design team doesn't matter. Understanding UI design goals will help you make better-looking products.

3 – Emphasise Visual Hierarchy

Hierarchy Web Design Spacing

Visual hierarchy is the order in which the elements are placed on a webpage. Elements placed at the top of the web page tend to attract users' attention. The essential elements appear at the top of the page.

In this way, the visual hierarchy is like a map. The map is usually laid out to make it easy to find the places you are going to. Similarly, the visual hierarchy should be laid out to make it easy to understand what information is available on the page.

The three different levels of visual hierarchy are:

  1. Primary Hierarchy
  2. Secondary Hierarchy
  3. Tertiary Hierarchy

Primary Hierarchy is the top-level structure. It is the foundation of the entire web page. It consists of elements that make up the content of the page. It contains the main navigation menu and page heading.

The secondary hierarchy is the next level of the primary hierarchy. It is usually the main content of the page.

Tertiary Hierarchy is the least important level of the primary hierarchy. It is usually the page footer and sidebar.

How to emphasise the Visual Hierarchy

1: Use Contrast

Contrast is the way two elements of similar appearance appear differently. The contrast is created using the elements' colours, shapes, sizes, and positions. A good contrast example is how a bold font appears against a light background. You can use this principle to make the elements in your web page stand out. Creating a contrasting design makes it easier for the user to find the content.

πŸ‘‰ Read More:  The Element of Surprise in Website Design

2: Balance the hierarchy

Balance the hierarchy means placing elements evenly around the page. For example, if you are creating a photo gallery, it would be better to place the images near the centre of the page. It will make the page appear more balanced and the images look less messy.

3: Don't repeat the same colour

If you are using the same colour for too many elements, it will make the page look cluttered. Use a few contrasting colours instead.

4: Keep things simple

When you are designing a page, keep the design simple and uncluttered. Do not use too many colours or textures, and ensure that the fonts are not too large.

4 – Create a Compelling Message

Compelling messages can be defined as messages that convince users to interact and use a product or website. They can make users want to use a product, or they can make users want to share information about products.

A compelling message must meet the following criteria:

  1. It must be interesting or attractive to persuade the user;
  2. It should be easily accessible;
  3. It should be simple and easy to understand;
  4. It should give the user some reward, like a discount or free shipping, as an incentive to share information about their purchases.

The above list of characteristics is only a guide to creating compelling messages. It's possible to create compelling messages that don't adhere to these guidelines. For example, the design of your product could be beautiful, but it's not easy to understand what it does, and the messages could be complicated and hard to find.

Designing a compelling message

When designing a message, it's good to think about the following:

  • How will your users receive the message;
  • What the message needs to be (in other words, what is the message trying to communicate to the user);
  • The tone of the message. How will the message be written? Will it be serious or light-hearted?

Some ideas for designing a compelling message:

  • You could design a message to show how your product works or how to do something with it. This would be a message that explains the function and purpose of your product to the user. It would include content that's attractive and simple to understand.
  • You could design a message encouraging users to tell their friends about your product. This could be a light-hearted message encouraging users to talk about your product with their friends. It could also include a discount for people who buy your product together.
  • You could design a message encouraging users to take action on your website. This simple message could encourage users to sign up for a newsletter.

A compelling message is an excellent tool for designers. Creating engaging, attractive and easily understandable messages is possible but can also be hard to create. A compelling message is an integral part of your design process.

5 – Use Appropriate Typography

Good User Interface Design Typography

Designing your website or working on your client's websites requires having an eye for good typography. Proper typography helps create a good impression of a brand and a successful website.

Here, we'll discuss the best practices for using appropriate typography for a good user interface design.

πŸ‘‰ Read More:  What is Brand Identity? The Definitive Guide

Use Appropriate Typography

The best way to use typography in a UI design is to stick to one primary typeface. Using multiple fonts makes the design look unprofessional and cluttered.

A good rule of thumb is that your primary typeface should be the same across the entire website. An excellent example of this is the Google Chrome browser. Google uses a single font throughout their products, but not necessarily across all of them. Gmail uses a different typeface than the Google homepage. The typography used on the YouTube site, however, is consistent.

The same goes for your websites. Stick to one primary typeface for all text elements. The same goes for icons. Do not use different types of icons throughout your website. This creates an inconsistent user experience.

Using Different Typefaces

There are times when you should use different typefaces. For example, if you want to create a unique effect in the background of your website, you should use a bolder typeface.

The same goes for using a custom typeface within a button. For example, if you want to add an exclamation point to a button, you should use a different typeface. In this case, you should use a bolder typeface.

If you want to use different typefaces within your website, try to keep the two typefaces similar. In other words, you shouldn't mix too many different fonts.

Include a Clear Callout

Your website needs to have a clear callout. In other words, it should have a clear visual hierarchy.

For example, if you're designing a blog, ensure the posts section has a different colour than the footer or header. This way, it's easy for visitors to find information. Also, ensure that your logo is more prominent than all other text elements.

Use Proper Font Sizes

When choosing the right font size, you must consider the user's computer and viewing distance.

Most people have their computers set to medium-size fonts. However, if your website's font is too small, they will have trouble reading it.

On the other hand, if your website's font is too large, it will appear extremely small.

It's essential to remember that people read from left to right. Therefore, you should always write the first line of text in the largest font size.

6 – Use Visual Contrast

Visual contrast is one of the basic requirements for effective user interface design. It helps you make things easy for users to identify and use your application effectively. This guide will discuss visual contrast and how you should apply it.

Contrast ratio

The contrast ratio is the difference between the same family's lightest and darkest colours of the same colour family. A contrast ratio of 1:1 is perfect because it shows no visual difference between the colours. In most cases, it's recommended to keep the ratio at least 2:1.

Many websites offer contrast ratio calculators. They calculate the contrast ratio based on the colour palette of a website.

Why is contrast significant?

The contrast ratio is a good indicator of readability. It is also an effective way to ensure that the website's text is visible and legible. It positively impacts the legibility of text and helps you avoid text overlap.

πŸ‘‰ Read More:  5 Tips for Accelerating Mobile Development

How to design visually contrasting interfaces?

Here are some tips for you to consider when you design your user interface:

Colour choice

  • Use contrasting colours. You may want to avoid using similar colours such as grey, black and white. If possible, you should try to use different colours like red and green. It's easier to distinguish between two different colours than to recognise two colours similar to each other.
  • Keep a balance. Choose colours that are close to each other in saturation but still distinguishable.
  • Avoid using colours that are close to each other in lightness. For example, dark blue and light blue may be too close in colour and look the same. However, they'll be easily distinguished if they're not near saturation.

Font type and size

  • Use a font that is easy to read.Β You may use a larger font for small text, like links and navigation menu items. You may also want to use a smaller font for large text, such as titles and paragraphs.
  • Use contrasting fonts. You can use a light and dark font for headlines and large blocks of text.
  • Use a bold font for your important content.Β Use a different font for the text that users might accidentally skip.

Typeface style

  • Make sure to use a serif typeface for text. Serif fonts are more readable than sans-serif fonts.
  • Choose a serif font that is close to the body text. Using a serif font close to the body text makes it easy to distinguish the body text from other text on the page.

Background colour and opacity

  • Use a background colour with high opacity.
  • Make sure the background colour is easily visible against the background.
  • Avoid using very bright or very dark backgrounds.

7 – Use Colour to Communicate tone

User Interface Design Trends Neomorphism

The tone should be considered in the user experience process, from the beginning when you come up with the idea for the UI to the end when the product is implemented. The user experience team should have a clear vision of what the product will look like and act like in its early stages. This way, designers can create a UI matching the brand and user experience goals.

The tone of a UI should be decided by the developers and communicated clearly throughout the product creation process. The designer should create the product's initial design, keeping the application's tone in mind.

In the UX process, designers must know the tone of the product they are creating and should create a UI that fits the product and brand's tone. Users can recognise this type of UI because it is consistent and communicates well. Creating a UI that speaks to the user in the language they understand is essential.

Users can expect certain behaviours and actions when interacting with a product. However, the UI may not communicate these expectations, leading to poor experiences. Designers can use colours to communicate the tone of the product and create a consistent UI.

The target audience will use a UI that communicates the brand's tone. Therefore you will meet the user's expectations. If the UI is designed well, users will have a positive experience and enjoy using the product. This will lead to a good customer relationship and an increase in sales.

πŸ‘‰ Read More:  Exploring the Symbolism of Animals in Branding

The importance of UI design and its role in the overall product experience cannot be understated. When a UI is created that matches the brand's tone, it will be more likely to positively impact the user and increase the user experience.

8 – Use Colour as a Visual Cue

A simple colour scheme can be very effective as a visual cue for the user and help users understand what they can do with an app and how to use it. This is because colours have a subconscious impact on our minds. We often associate specific colours with particular meanings. For instance, if we are in the mood for chocolate, then red can help us feel happy. Similarly, we feel sad when we see blue.

There are several ways to use colours to make a UI more appealing to users. To begin with, you can use different colours to highlight specific features. For instance, you can use red to highlight buttons, orange for tabs, green for a login page, and so on.Β 

However, using such colours is not enough. When a user comes across a button or menu item, he wants to know the meaning of that button or item. To achieve this, you can use colours to represent essential things in the UI.

For example, you can use green for buttons and yellow for menus. These colours help to identify the action, which works well on this car-renting website as it draws the eye. For example, when you click a green button, you can assume that the feature is about updating information. Similarly, when you see a menu item labelled “Settings,” you can assume that the feature is about changing settings.

Similarly, you can use colour to represent other features. For instance, when you click a grey tab, you can assume that the tab represents an area where data is stored. This way, you can easily convey what the tab represents to your users.

In addition to this, you can also make use of colour to create consistency within the UI. For instance, you can ensure that all buttons, icons, and menus use the same colour. It makes the interface easier to understand.

Moreover, you can use colour to highlight important things on the screen. For example, you can use colour to highlight the current page on the navigation bar. This way, users get a clear understanding of the main point of the page.

Finally, you can use colours to draw attention to certain page parts. This is especially important if you are designing a complex UI. To do this, you can use colours to highlight parts of the page that require special attention. For example, you can use colour to highlight errors or warn the user about them.

9 – Embrace Motion

Motion can be defined as a series of continuous changes in position, orientation, scale, shape, or colour that occur over time. So, let's go through a few ways you can use motion to improve user experience.

Make the User Experience More Natural

The first point to note here is that motion should never distract or annoy the user. When motion is appropriately used, it adds life to your user interface. You can use motion to make the UI more natural, engaging, and fun.

πŸ‘‰ Read More:  Exploring the Top 10 Best Science Logos

You can use animation to communicate the state of a particular element. For instance, if you have a button that opens a new tab, you can use a nice animation to make the button look like a tab. This way, the user knows they are about to open a new tab.

We can do many things with motion. A good example is the email composer. To make this experience more natural, you can add motion to it. By doing so, you will create a more engaging experience, and it will increase the conversion rate.

Create a Fun User Interface

We can use motion to make your user interface fun. The fun UI helps people remember and use your product or service.

An example of this is the iOS lock screen. On the lock screen, there is an animation that keeps changing. It helps you get back to the home screen faster. This animation is an excellent example of the use of motion to make the experience fun.

You can also use a fun UI to increase engagement. For example, if you have a Facebook page, you can use motion to create something like a pop-up. When you like the page, you will receive a pleasant surprise.

Make Your Users Feel Comfortable

You can also use motion to make your users feel comfortable. If you are designing a website for a bank, you should use motion to make it feel like you are interacting with them.

For example, you can use motion to create a transition between your login screen and the dashboard.

Another thing you can do is to add motion to your navigation bar. Doing this will make your users feel more at ease while using your app.

10 – Consider the User's Experience

We will improve the user experience if the user's needs and requirements are considered, as it will satisfy those needs and requirements.

This also applies to web designers because they work on the websites, applications and services that end users will use. They must create the best user experience, which means they need to know the end user's needs, expectations, and preferences.

What happens when the user interacts with a website? How is the user guided through the navigation? Is the content easy to find? Is the navigation straightforward? Does it make sense?

In this regard, the user will have an experience with the website that will affect them emotionally, psychologically and physically. The user will either like the website because they like the content or dislike it because they don't like the content.

In conclusion, the user's experience is what a website has, and the website owner needs to consider the user's needs and preferences when designing his website.


Good user interface design principles are easy to state, hard to implement, and surprisingly hard to explain. Here, I list the ten essential design principles of good user interface design. They're the ones that matter most, the ones that matter the most when trying to design a product that's intuitive and usable.

Find out what makes a good user interface design. These principles will help you make the best decisions for your users.

πŸ‘‰ Read More:  How to Become a Web Designer
Photo of author

Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

Need help Building your Brand?

Let’s talk about your logo, branding or web development project today! Get in touch for a free quote.

1 thought on “What Makes a Good User Interface? 10 Principles of UI Design”

  1. The most important aspect is intuitivity. That’s for placement of elements as for their appearance. Mobile device, flat and minimalist design philosophy ruined most applications. Yea it’s cheap to produce, but it sucks.


Leave a Comment

Trusted by Businesses Worldwide to Create Impactful and Memorable Brands

At Inkbot Design, we understand the importance of brand identity in today's competitive marketplace. With our team of experienced designers and marketing professionals, we are dedicated to creating custom solutions that elevate your brand and leave a lasting impression on your target audience.