Whether it’s an old trend or an outmoded style choice, these old-fashioned UIs stick out like sore thumbs. However, there are other products or equipment with UI designs that maintain high usability and functionality despite being much older.
What gives these UIs staying power?
The truth is that solid design doesn’t just match the technological platform it’s implemented on. Instead, it follows a core set of principles that allow it to remain functional – even when that specific technology has become obsolete.
Follow these 5 tips to better understand how to ‘future-proof’ your own GUI design.
Don’t Put All Your Laurels in the Current Design Fads
It’s not always a bad thing to adapt design toward new consumer trends or customer preferences. But many designers fall into the trap of designing for these trends (rather than the end-users).
If your focus is on what’s new and hot rather than what’s best for your customers, you’re making a huge mistake.
In many cases, new design trends are aligned with consumer preferences. But never let those trends sway your focus from overall usability.
Maintain End-Users as Your Top Priority
Although this tip should go without saying, it’s important to reinforce. Your end-users are always #1 when it comes to your design choices. They’re the people who will eventually pay money for whatever products you’re developing, after all.
No matter how you swing it, your users are what really count. Whether you’re designing a GUI for medical equipment or the UI for a refrigerator, you want to give end-users something they can use intuitively and without hassle.
Build in Flexibility and Adaptability
While this tip definitely speaks to developers more directly, designers should also take note. In many cases, a UI design seems to rest in a ‘closed-circuit’ development phase. It’s specifically built for one type of equipment – and that’s where it remains.
But what if that equipment is discontinued? Even worse, what if the design or functionality is upgraded – but the UI remains static? In many cases a product’s feature set or available functions can change before you’re even finished designing and developing your GUI or UI.
From a development standpoint, you should always ensure open-endedness in the UIs you’re developing and designing. By factoring this in ahead of time, you’re saving yourself a lot of additional trouble down the road and extending the life of your product.
Make it a point to anticipate future use of your design. By planning ahead for changes, upgrades and additional functionality, you allow your UI the flexibility it needs for future relevance and success.
Optimize Connections and Flow through the UI
Much like your customer focus, the core mechanics of your UI should maintain strict principles regarding speed, flow and intuitiveness. You want your menus and overall interface to be easy to use, fast and logically connected.
These are the principles that make a good UI design. As a result, they will always help keep your UI or GUI design much more future-proof.
Maintain a Fundamental Attention to Detail
Details count in your design. In the end, users won’t notice when everything is cohesive and functional for them. What they will notice (and remember) is when things don’t work the way they should in your design. That’s the last thing you want as a designer or developer.
By keeping strict attention to detail, you can ensure your design is unobtrusive to your end users. They’ll use it and appreciate it by continuing to use and appreciate the device or equipment it is operating.
Timeless Design Through Customer Focus
Remember, no matter the principles behind your design, it’s people who will ultimately use these UIs. By maintaining a people-centered focus, you will always tend to create systems that maintain usability.
Avoiding trends and other ‘hot ticket’ technology and design principles will allow you to keep your focus on what’s important: your end-users. As long as these people remain your top priority, you can create a UI that is relevant and usable for years to come.