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6 Simple Practices to Creating Aesthetic UI

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By Cameron Cook

August 5th 2020

Before anything is said, what is an aesthetic? An aesthetic can be a rush of nostalgia or a stroke of genius design, but all-in-all it is what grabs the attention of like-minded people and creates a community of trust and identity within a network.

‘Aesthetics’, defined by Merriam-Webster, is “a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste and with the creation and appreciation of beauty”.

This makes it obvious that when designing anything, aesthetics will parallel usability. This is because the usability of an app can be looked at as the barebones of how the app will act and react. ‘Aesthetics’ will be the artistic component; weaving through the usability of the site, like a lifeblood.

Maintaining a personable approach in visual appeal and gaining trust through design language is the underlying mission of what’s already there. These two components work hand-in-hand to fully appreciate a user’s experience on their app, and exhibit the attractiveness to bring that user back again.

There are six practices of design that will help you create an efficient aesthetic complimenting the design language. These will grasp attention, making the visual aspect of your app an attractive and memorable experience.

1. Making the most of negative space - / +

Now, in our younger years, we were always taught to “think outside the box”, and that could mean anything inspirational. With UI you can put that practice to work legitimately by examining what is outside of your interface. What usually surrounds our UI elements is the negative space. That ‘empty’ space creates a contrast of what is intentionally placed and a direction of focus to set it apart visually. It’s simple to say what it is, but how can you use the open space to your advantage?

It is not just empty space - it has intention to its placement just like UI components. This necessity of negative space is useful when simplifying the approach of sharing your information. Designing a page with an appropriate attention ratio will reduce confusion on navigation. The user will feel free to explore the interactive elements of your app without any barriers blocking concentration.

The best example of this can be the minimalistic approach of design. The design language has a depth that explores a different route of expression, taking what’s unnecessary and deleting it to create a more direct approach. This truly creates the most simple path for any user to follow straight to the point, but can also be lackluster and monotonous to a user with a more expressionist eye.

2. Organic, responsive Microinteractions

There is one rule to rule them all, “every action has a reaction”. This applies to the more subtle, and most helpful, instances of a user’s interactions with an app.

‘Microinteractions’ are the reaction to the user’s actions. These little interactions can be perceived as more organic and responsive by the user according to their needs. This can be played out in a few interface examples, including:

Adjusting Preferences

Downloading and uploading

Sharing on Social Media

Notifications

These little instances can cause a positive or negative reaction depending on how fluid these processes are. So, when designing these small interactions it is good to take the time to think how operations will affect usability.

3. Effectiveness of colors

It is always said that design is more than pretty colors and themes, and it’s a very true statement. There is, however, a lot of worth and value to the color palette when designing the aesthetics of an interface.

There are many different tactics of determining a color palette, but they all stem from values and messaging behind the brand. This messaging can be translated into color to emphasize, highlight and even redirect the action of a user. Everything works in accordance with the intentional message throughout the UI/UX design language.

An example of how to affect your user with color is through readability. This means using multiple shades of the same color to ease the strain on the viewer's eyes while viewing your content. Whenever there is a doubt in what color to overlay or substitute, implementing muted colors is a great practice because they will always be easier on the user’s eyes when navigating.

You can even use different shades of the same colors to give a 3D effect to buttons. When the button/CTA is ‘un-pushed’ it can be the more vibrant, lighter tone. As soon as the user clicks on the button/CTA, it can change to a darker shade to give the perception that there is a light over the button, and pushing it blocks this light coming from above.

4. Creating a Focal-Point

There has to be a single point of direction and intention, and usually it leads to the CTA. You can create a focal-point on the page, emphasizing the romantic relationship between aesthetics and UI elements. This will immediately trace the user’s attention directly to what’s important.

Our minds like to initially fill in the gaps and perceive things as a whole before breaking it down. This can lead to having multiple interpretations of one subject. Since our thinking process is to always avoid uncertainty, try to not put the user in an awkward position of having to decide on what to pay attention to. Give them a similar alternative to work with and give opportunity for that alternative to grow into the main focus

5. User Intelligence

When aestheticizing towards the user, it is key to design with a strategy that enables the user in every situation. Making the user feel comfortable exploring your app is one thing, but making them feel intelligent in the process is the real hook. To design with predictability in mind, you’ll be able to navigate the user’s paths beforehand and in-turn create a successful funnel of sale or conversion.

The more a user can feel invested, the more they feel in control. They are spending their time or money and to make someone feel special is to make them feel in-charge.

6. Be Consistent

Lastly, but not of least importance, it is key to the success of any app or webpage to remain consistent in your design. Whether it is in the aesthetics of your design or the complementary action of your UI/UX elements, the user should not be distracted by the imperfections of how everything is built to operate.

It is intuitive to consistently deliver the same quality product every time because it solidifies the truth of the matter. When things are constantly changing, there is little time for the user to transfer information into new contexts and learn anything. To remain consistent will aid the user and push them to execute the intended task without having to relearn the context of different elements.

Conclusion

These simple practices of thought when designing aesthetically will help you make the most of an app or website’s experience. Learning how to implement strategies of design in negative space and the use of colors will only elevate your visual appeal and brand identity.

Designing towards your user and creating their predestined path of navigation when on your app or website will mold your wits as a designer and teach you ways to go about things and not go about things. The most important aspect of design is to make the user feel important. If you can drive aesthetics into your design, intentionally, affecting the user’s experience, then there will be plenty of room for growth and adaptation when keeping up your site’s design.

Take this knowledge and apply it to your own designs, and dive further into the reasoning behind all motives of design. There is no better time to learn about design than the age of instant gratification.

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