Tag Archives: navigation

UI navigation design elements

UX Design Glossary: Interface Navigation Elements. Set 2.

Interface navigation belongs to the core issues of UX design. That’s not surprising: it’s hard to get to your destination if you can’t see the way. Being surrounded by more and more websites and applications every day, users are high-fed with the diversity of offers and expect intuitive navigation as a must-have. So, let’s continue our talk about the theme with a new issue of navigation glossary to learn more about this powerful booster of usability. Earlier we presented you the first set of UX glossary for navigation covering the definitions and examples for navigation, menu, button, CTA, bar, picker, switch etc.  Today let’s add the new ones to the list: check the details for icons, search field and tags.

 

information architecture for designers tubik

 

Icons

 

An icon can be defined as an image which has a high symbolic value and is used for the purpose of communication. Icons present signs which are informative and support data exchange between the informer and addressee alongside with words and sentences: while copy is served with letters or characters, icons communicate via the images showing pictorial resemblance with an object of the physical world. In computing and digital design, icons are pictograms or ideograms used in the web or mobile interface to support its usability and provide the successful flow of human-computer interaction.

 

One of the most valuable benefits of icons among is the ability to effectively replace the text. This feature is able to boost usability and strengthen navigation as most users tend to perceive and decode images faster than words. However, even the slightest misperception or double meaning can become the reason of poor UX so the solutions on the type of icons should be carefully tested to reach the good balance of icons and copy for a particular target audience. One of the effective variants is using both copy and icon so that different categories of users could feel good with that: this approach is particularly popular in various catalogues of e-commerce websites where different positions are presented by both words and pictures giving the user double support for quick and clear navigation.

UI icons in interface design tubik blog

 

Based on their functions, icons can be classified as: 

— interactive icons: icons which are directly involved into interaction process. They are clickable or tappable and respond to the users request doing the action symbolized by them. They inform users about the functions or features of the buttons, controls and other elements of interaction. In many cases, they are obvious and don’t need the copy support.

— clarifying icons: icons aimed at explanation, visual markers explaining particular features or marking out categories of content. They may be not the layout elements of direct interaction; also, they are often found in combination with copy supporting their meaning. 

— entertaining and decorative icons: icons aimed at aesthetic appeal rather than functionality, often used to present seasonal features and special offers. They present the effective way of attracting user’s attention and enhance the general stylistic concept of a digital product.

— app icons: interactive brand signs that present the application on different platforms supporting the original identity of the digital product.

— favicons: represents the product or brand in the URL-line of the browser as well as in the bookmark tab. It allows users to get a quick visual connection with it while they are browsing.

 

tubik studio tapbar ui

 

Read more about types and functions of icons here

 

Search Field

 

A search field, which is also called search box or search bar, presents the interface element enabling user to type in the keywords and this way find the pieces of content that are needed. It is one of the core navigation elements for the websites or apps with a big amount of content, in particular blogs, e-commerce and news websites etc. Well-designed and easily found search field enables the user jump to the necessary point without browsing through the numerous pages and menus: as this approach respects user’s time and effort, it is highly demanded in user-friendly interfaces.

 

In terms of design, this element can be presented in different ways, from the framed tab to the interactive input line, or even minimalist clickable icon. In the vast majority of cases, the search field is marked with the icon featuring a magnifying glass. This symbol is recognizable by a wide variety of users so it has proved itself effective for setting intuitive navigation. Experiments with this icons can influence badly on interactions and usability of the layout, so if other symbolic images are applied, they should be carefully tested. The flow of interaction can also be supported with the dropdown menu offering possible options or auto-filling functionality.

 

tubik studio ice ui website

Another important issue is the placement of the search graphic control in the interface. In web design, search field can be often found in a header of a website and this is a good choice: as we mentioned in the article devoted to design practices for website headers, for any website it is the zone of the highest visibility, so putting a search field there enables users to quickly get transferred to the pages they really need without wandering through the website and scrolling down. For example, it is actual for big e-commerce websites often visited by users who have a particular goal, a specific item they are looking for — if they can’t find it quickly and conveniently, the risk is high that they will leave decreasing the profitability of the resource. Moreover, the power of habit should also be taken into account: as numerous websites include search into their headers, users are accustomed to looking for it there when they need it.

 

Talking about search field in mobile interfaces, the situation differs as the designer is much more limited in the usable space. If the app is based on a lot of content and search is one of the central elements of interaction, it can be found in the tab bar and easily reached. In case the search is not crucial for the user goals and usability of the app, it can be hidden in menus or shown only on the screen where it’s potentially needed.

 

tubik studio motion design ui

 

Tag

 

Tag is an interactive element presented with a keyword or phrase that enables the user to move quickly to the items marked up with it. Tags are actually pieces of metadata that provide quick access to specific categories of content so they support navigation with the additional way of content classification. Moreover, tags are often the elements which users create by themselves comparing to the names of categories that are fixed by the website and can’t be changed by users.

 

design for users website interface

 

Tags are widely used on the platforms based on user-generated content: when you upload the photo to the stock, post on the social networks or write on the blog, you can mark your content with the particular keywords which will then unite all the pieces of content marked with the tag. The screenshot above shows you the part of the home page of Design4Users Blog which actively uses a cloud of tags to enhance navigation around the blog content. In terms of interaction, click on a tag moves the user to the webpage collecting all the content marked with this tag. Also, tags are SEO-friendly technique increasing the chances that the content will be found via search engines.

example of tag in the interface

As another example, here’s the tagging offered by Unsplash, the well-known platform of free stock photos. When users download a photo, they are offered to type their own tags aka keywords which would describe this photo in the best way helping other users to find it. As we can see, the input field for adding tags also supports users with prompts for better usability. So, tags present user-generated elements of navigation that makes the interface closer and clearer to its target audience. 

 


 

Planning the navigation is the hard work which demands a good knowledge of psychology and interaction patterns, user testing and serious approach to information architecture from the earliest stages of an app or website design. However, it becomes the solid ground for positive user experience which will solve users’ problems and motivate them to get back to the product again and again.

 

Today’s set of our glossary is ready for those who need it and we are going to continue this practice before long. Don’t miss the new sets — the next one will continue the issues of navigation with deeper insights into types of menus, buttons, and breadcrumbs. If there are any specific terms you would like to see explained, described and illustrated, feel free to contact viadirect message on our Facebook page , via Twitter or our Quora representative. New definitions are coming soon!

 

Recommended reading

 

Here is the set of recommended materials for further reading for those who would like to get deeper into this topic and learn more on the theme.

 

UI/UX Design Glossary. Navigation Elements.

iOS Human Interface Guidelines

Navigation patterns for ten common types of websites

Small Elements, Big Impact: Types and Functions of UI Icons.

3 essential rules for effective navigation design

Perfecting navigation for the mobile web

Understanding Web UI Elements & Principles

User Interface Elements

The Most Creative Mobile Navigation Patterns

Basic Patterns for Mobile Navigation


Welcome to see the designs by Tubik Studio on Dribbble and Behance

Welcome to read us on Quora

design navigation UI UX tubik studio

UI/UX Design Glossary. Navigation Elements.

One of the basic features of product usability is thoughtfully created navigation. It doesn’t matter if the visual performance is creative, stylish, original, catchy and so on and so forth, in case the users don’t know where they are and how they could reach their goals with the website or app. Whatever is the reason that brings users to your digital product, the high level of respecting them means letting them know what is going on and where they are going at every step of interaction with it. Earlier we have already published the Glossary posts with key terms for the topics of usability and web design as well as business terms and abbreviations. This time the perspective will get focused on navigation aspect: let’s check out what parts and elements of the interface are responsible for this vital issue. 

 

Dribbble shot Tubik Studio

 

Navigation

 

In its basic meaning, the word navigation names the sphere of human activity responsible for enabling a vehicle to get from one place to the other, controlling and supporting this process. According to etymology dictionary, the term has deep roots and comes from the Latin word navigare «to sail, sail over, go by sea, steer a ship,» which in its turn is based on two words: navis «ship» and agere «to set in motion, drive, drive forward». So, to navigate is to make possible for someone or something to cover the planned route. This is the foundation from which the numerous meanings of this word took the start and adjusted in many other spheres.

 

In terms of user experience design, the concept of navigation is one of the basic notions setting the usability. Navigation, in this case, could be generally defined as the set of actions and techniques guiding users throughout the app or website, enabling them to fulfill their goals and successfully interact with the product. The aspect of efficient navigation has a great impact on setting positive user experience: users start using apps or websites with particular aims and expectations, and that’s designers’ task to set the best and easiest route to solving users’ problems.

 

The aspect of helpful and seamless navigation in UI should be thought-out from the early stages of creating the user interface. Users are navigated via interface with a number of interactive elements such buttons, switches, links, tabs, bars, menus, fields and the like, some of which will be described more in details below.

 

Here in Tubik we support the workflow in which all the basic navigation issues, such as layout, transitions, elements placement and functionality, are set in the early phase of UX wireframing and then checked with simple prototype to make sure all the important operations and options are clear for users. Neglecting this essential aspect sets high risks that all the other effort on design can be just wasted, so it’s much more user- and client-friendly to start with the basics.

 

Tubik Studio UI sketches

 

Menu

 

Menu is one of the core navigation elements. It is a graphical control that presents the options of interactions with the interface. Basically, it can be the list of commands — in this case, options will be presented with verbs marking possible actions like, for example, «save», «delete», «buy», «send» etc. Menu can also present the categories along which the content is organized in the given interface, and this can be the high time for using nouns marking them.

 

Menus can have different locations in the interface (side menus, header menus, footer menus etc.) and different ways of appearance and interaction (drop-down menus, drop-up menus, sliding menus etc.) Any solution, which designer makes about menu functionality, appearance and placement in general layout, should be based on thoughtful user research, analyzing not only potential wishes and expectations of the target audience but also their tech literacy and possible environments in which the digital product could be used. Well-designed menu can significantly speed up the process of achieving goals and satisfying needs that lay the solid foundation for positive user experience.

 

tubikstudio ui app design

 

Here is the example of mobile blogging app interface which features left-side menu presenting the categories of content. The copy describing positions in the menu is supported with icons presenting recognizable visual mark for the category.

 

mobile app design tubik studio

 

The presented app UI concept shows the type menu applying the effective technique of color marking: when users move to a particular category, the specific background color is used for all the content in it, which forms strong associations and quick perception of the nature and theme of data the user sees.

 

CTA

 

Behind the widely used abbreviation CTA, designers and content creators mean call to action. This is actually the word of phrase which stimulates users to interact with a product in a way and for the aim it is designed for. CTA elements are the interactive controls which enable users to do the action they are called to. Typical types of such interactive elements in the layout are buttons, tabs, or links.

 

In the interfaces of all kinds, CTA elements are the core factor of effective interaction with the product, which plays the crucial role in usability and navigability. When all the path of interaction and transitions is built clearly for users but CTA element is not thought-out, placed or designed well, users can get confused and will need to take additional effort trying to achieve their goals. That sets the high risk for poor conversion rate and general user experience. That’s why this navigation element should draw particularly deep designers attention. In any interface, it should be one of the most prominent and quickly noticeable parts to inform users how the product can be helpful or useful for them.

 

Contact List Concept Scrolls Tubik

 

As we mentioned in the article with tips on copy content in UI, some call-to-action elements may be represented with icons that don’t require copy using widely and instantly recognized images such as a telephone receiver for making a phone call or the envelope for opening received mail. The app interface presented above shows this case: the button with a receiver is the most prominent interactive element on the screen navigating user to achieving their goals with app quickly, and it doesn’t need the copy to let users understand what action can be done with it.

 

However, when the image of an icon is not so obvious or can be misleading, it is more effective to use double scheme, when the icon, button, or link is supported with the copy.

 

landing page UI design tubik studio

 

The example above features the landing page for a web platform devoted to cooking seafood. The headline of the page presents a call to action and immediately sets the theme by both verbal and visual means. Still, this call to action is not interactive. The active CTA elements are clickable buttons informing users that after clicking they can see more information on the particular topic or recipe. The bright color enhances visual hierarchy on the page and draws users’ attention to the key interactive zone.

 

Bar

 

Bar is a section of the user interface with clickable elements enabling a user to quickly take some core steps of interaction with the product or it can also inform the user on the current stage of the process. Among the basic types of bars, we could mention:

Tab bar — in mobile applications, it appears at the bottom of an app screen and provides the ability to quickly switch between different sections of an app.

 

tubik studio tapbar ui

 

Loading bar — the control informing user on the current stage of action, when the process is in active stage and user can see the flow via timing or percentage shown in progress.

 

tubik studio motion design

 

Progress bar — provides feedback on a result of the current process so far, for example, showing how much of the planned activity has been done.

 

juicy player UI Tubik Studio

 

Button

 

Button is, perhaps, one of the most popular elements of any interface. Button is the element which enables a user to get the appropriate interactive feedback from the system within a particular command. Generally speaking, button is a control with which user directly communicates to the digital product and sends the necessary commands to achieve a particular goal, like, let’s say, send the email, buy a product, download the data, turn on the player and tons of other possible actions. One of the reasons why buttons are so popular and user-friendly is that they efficiently imitate interaction with the objects in physical world.

 

Modern UI buttons demonstrate high diversity and can serve plenty of purposes. Typical and frequently used buttons which present an interactive zone, usually clearly marked out for visibility and having a particular geometric shape and often supported with the copy explaining what action will be fulfilled via this button. Designers usually apply considerable time and effort for creating effective and noticeable buttons that are harmonically added into general stylistic concept but are contrast enough to stand out in the layout.

 

tubik studio page 404

 

Besides, we could also mention several types of buttons with additional functionality, widely used in mobile and web interfaces.

 

Hamburger button — the button hiding the menu: clicking or tapping it, user sees the menu expanding. It is called so as its form consisting of three horizontal lines looks like typical bread-meat-bread hamburger. Nowadays it is a typical element of interaction, still highly debatable due to the number of pros and cons.

 

Most users who visit and use websites on the regular basis know that this button hides the core categories of data so this trick does not need additional explanations and prompts. Hamburger menus free the space making the interface more minimalist and full of air as well as allow massive saving place for other important layout elements. This design technique also provides additional benefits for responsive and adaptive design hiding navigation elements and making the interface look harmonic on different devices. Although hamburger menus still belong to highly debatable issues of modern web and app design, they are widely used. The arguments against hamburger menu are based on the fact that this design element can be confusing for people who do not use websites regularly and can get misled with the sign which features a high level of abstraction. So, the decision about applying hamburger button should be made after user research and definition of target audience’s abilities and needs.

 

tubik studio ice ui website

The presented website concepts uses hamburger button to hide the menu and support general minimalist approach to the visual performance of the layout.

 

Plus button — the button that being clicked or tapped presents the ability to add new content, be it a new contact, post, note, position in the list — anything user could do as the basic action with the digital product. Sometimes, tapping this button, users are directly transferred to the modal window of creating content, in other cases there is also a medium stage when they are given additional option to choose from and make adding the particular piece of data more focused.

 

tubik studio button ui

 

Here is the concept showing that plus button first enables a user to choose the category of the added content (image, video, text) and only then directs to the particular screen where it can be done. This practice takes seconds still makes experience more user-friendly as designers can present users with modified options of adding content for every particular case.

 

Share button — the button enabling a user to share the content or achievement directly to social networking accounts. In vast majority of cases, it is presented with icons which present a brand sign of particular social networks and are easily recognizable.

 

Switch

 

Switch is a control that enables users to switch the option on or off. Again, it is applied with the high level of efficiency and popularity in the modern interfaces because it presents the direct imitation of switches people are accustomed to in real life. The important point of consideration here is that states of the switch should be visibly clear and distinctive so that user could avoid applying effort to understand if the option is active or not. Various sorts of contrast and slight animation can solve the problem making the experience simple and user-friendly.

toonie switch UI animation

Here is the switch turning on and off the alarm in Toonie app. Animation makes the interaction smooth and natural, while changed color of the tab and the toggle transforming into spinning sun let users instantly understand whether the alarm is active. If you want to see the full case study on how this animated element was designed and developed, welcome to check the details here.

 

Picker

 

As it becomes clear from its name, picker allows users to pick the point from the row of options. It usually includes one or several scrollable lists of distinct values, for example, hours, minutes, dates, measurements, currencies etc. Scrolling the list, users choose and set the needed value. This type of interactive element is widely used in the interfaces which have the functionality of setting time and dates.

 

toonie UI animation

 

Checkbox

 

Checkbox is graphical UI element which is used to mark a particular piece of content, usually setting the choice for the binary options. It is another element setting the bridge with the real world as it looks really similar to the process of filling in tests, questionnaires and other stuff of this kind when you put a tick or color the box to mark the option. Checkboxes and switches can be found in any type of user interfaces, especially in the sections of the user, screen or page settings. Also, checkboxes present a common part of navigation in apps and websites with functionality of task managers, to-do lists, time trackers and the like.

 

todo list UI app tubik studio

 

Here’s the example of design concept for the mobile to-do app for complex tasks. Tapping the checkbox, users marks the task as done and it automatically gets faded, the copy is colored differently and the font gets bolder to support the contrast of this task with the ones which are still in progress.

 


 

Today’s set of our glossary is ready for those who need it and we are going to continue this practice before long. Don’t miss the new sets — the next one will continue the issues of navigation with deeper insights into types of menus and buttons, tags, breadcrumbs and icons. If there are any specific terms you would like to see explained, described and illustrated, feel free to contact via direct message in our Facebook page or Twitter as well as our Quora representative. New definitions are coming soon!

 

Recommended reading

 

Here is the set of recommended materials for further reading for those who would like to get deeper into this topic and learn more on the theme.

 

iOS Human Interface Guidelines

 

Navigation patterns for ten common types of websites

 

3 essential rules for effective navigation design

 

Perfecting navigation for the mobile web

 

Understanding Web UI Elements & Principles

 

User Interface Elements

 

The Most Creative Mobile Navigation Patterns

 

Basic Patterns for Mobile Navigation


Welcome to see the designs by Tubik Studio on Dribbble and Behance

Welcome to read us on Quora