Providing an informative and efficient user interface (UI) experience is a key component of your organization’s brand. Similar to any consumer or B2B experience, people have ongoing and competing demands for their time—make their website visits positive, and you are setting yourself up for repeat business and more satisfied customers. When it comes to UI and brand, most B2B companies are faced with the challenge of needing to explain an abundance of information, so displaying this in an efficient manner is extremely important.
UI and Brand: Overview
UI combines interaction design, visual design, and information architecture, all of which need to support each brand’s identity to the degree it can without compromising usability. Consumers have become familiar with interface elements acting in a certain way, so choose consistent and logical layouts. Doing so will help with satisfaction levels and repeat use.
Interface elements include (but are not limited to):
- Input Controls: buttons, text fields, checkboxes, dropdown lists, list boxes, toggles, and date fields
- Navigational Components: slider, search field, pagination, slider, tags, and icons
- Informational Components: tooltips, icons, progress bars, notifications, and message boxes
UI and Brand: Best Practices
First and foremost, for your UI and brand to live in harmony, know your target audience. Understand their goals, skills, preferences, and tendencies. Once you know your audience, be sure to consider the following when designing your interface:
- Keep the interface simple and predictable. The best interfaces are almost invisible to the user. They avoid unnecessary elements, jargon, and are clear in the language used on labels and in messaging. The design should be clear, consistent, intuitive, and easy to navigate.
- Be purposeful and strategic in page layout. Consider the spatial relationships between items on the page and structure the page based on importance. Careful placement of items can help draw attention to the most important pieces of information and can facilitate scanning and readability.
- Color and typeface. You can direct attention toward or redirect attention away from items using color, light, contrast, and typeface to your advantage.
- Communicate to the Users. An effective and efficient UI informs your users of location, actions, changes in state, or errors. The use of various UI elements to communicate status and, if necessary, next steps can reduce frustration for your user.
Make actions easily reversible – the user should always be able to easily undo what they did, in case they make an error. An “undo” button should be accessible and obvious to the user, otherwise they may be less inclined to explore the full site.
UI and Brand: Conclusion
In designing a UI, put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. You have limited time to make a positive impact to ensure visitors are easily locating information in an efficient and productive manner. Step back and look at the design flow as an external visitor. Better yet, invite fresh sets of eyes to try it out, as long as they resemble your target audience. Ask questions such as:
- Is the UI intuitive?
- Is it clean, clear, and easy to follow?
- Does it encourage exploration to other parts of the site?
- Does the experience differ from that of competitors?
New and repeat users will become brand ambassadors for your company if the UI is designed for efficient use and high productivity.
— William Coughlin
About William Coughlin
Bill Coughlin has over 25 years of marketing and communications experience. He holds an undergraduate degree in Marketing from Northeastern University and a Master of Arts in Integrated Marketing Communications from Emerson College. Bill lives in Boston and enjoys hiking, playing squash, and running along the Charles River.
Spencer Brenneman, LLC