User Interface (UI) Design for Websites

Thursday, December 14th
Content Manager

Mark Wilson

Understanding user interface (UI) design on a website is easier than you might think. Because you know good and bad UI design when you see it, even if you didn’t realize that that’s what you were experiencing.

We’ve all been on websites that are easy to use, and those that created multiple frustrations for us. It’s no secret that the ones we enjoy are websites we’re more likely to revisit.

This same principle applies to your website, and the people who visit it.

At Leadflask, we combine our knowledge of user interface best practices with a data-based approach to website design.

And since you won’t know exactly how users will use your site until it’s live, we believe in constantly analyzing website usage to find opportunities to improve. 

To show you what we mean, let’s first talk about UI design as a whole.

What Is User Interface (UI) Design

User Interface Design (UI Design) is the process through which designers create products or tools for users to interact with and utilize. On a website, it’s any element that a user will directly interact with or see on a webpage.

It can be thought of as the surface-level elements of a website. A user will never see the underlying code of a site, but they will interface directly with whatever they see on their phone, tablet, or desktop device.

Various standard practices have been developed for UI design that enhance the usability and accessibility of websites. We’ll discuss many of them below.

UI vs. UX

In a previous article, we covered User Experience (UX) Design. What’s the difference?

The two are related, and should be done side by side in a design process. But UX focuses more on the overarching experience a user has on a website, while UI focuses more on the aesthetics of the site and the visual interface of individual pages and page elements.

UX is generally thought of as the broader category, while UI design is one element of UX design.

Most often, the majority of UI design is done on the “front end” of the website. Which is to say, the visual elements and pages that users will be directly interacting with. UX design, since it includes UI design, includes some of these elements as well, but it will also include “back end” coding that creates the site’s infrastructure.

Leadflask’s UI Design Process

Within our holistic website design process, UI design comes as part of the larger UX design process.

After determining site goals, user personas and user flows through the site, we’ll collect any existing brand assets that your company has. These could be logos, fonts, colors, and other brand standards that should inform the aesthetic of the site.

We’ll have developed a wireframe outline of the site, and then developed it into a low-fidelity prototype, followed by a higher-fidelity prototype. The UI process really starts here, because we’re already thinking about site aesthetics.

During this phase, we’ll have inspiration boards and reference materials to aid us in the design process, and will be sharing progress frequently with you.

As we put the finishing touches on the site design, there will be a staging site that you can visit and explore, exactly as if it were your live website. This is when we’ll test it for usability along several key metrics.

Lastly, once a site is live, it’s time to test and optimize it. We’ll talk more about this below, but the best adjustments to your site will occur only once we’ve collected user data on how people are using your site.

Design Simplicity Is Key

Less is more.

This is true in many areas of life. Nowhere more so than websites.

But you don’t need to worry! This doesn’t mean you won’t have useful information on your site. However, it does mean that you want a clean and simple design.

Why is this? A few reasons:

  1. Clean Design Converts - It’s been shown that users will leave a site at higher rates if they are presented with too many options to click and interact with. You want to keep users focused on the most important aspects of your website, which means keeping it uncluttered.
  2. Clean Design Clarifies - Want visitors to know exactly what value your business can provide for them? Tell them directly, unambiguously, and without a lot of competing messages.
  3. Clean Design Looks Better - The worst websites you’ve ever been on, with the exception of those that are simply broken in some fundamental way, are likely those that are the busiest. Simple is elegant, usable, and memorable for the right reasons.

The bottom line is that clean, simple design is better for the user, and it’s better for your business.

Mobile UI vs. Desktop UI

As of 2024, mobile web traffic accounts for approximately 60% of all internet traffic.

As a result, not only can you not ignore your website’s mobile experience, but it should be the user interface you spend the most time improving.

Many of the same principles of design apply to both mobile and desktop views, but specific layouts that work in one view won’t be good for the other. A design approach that looks at both and adjusts them accordingly will be better than a design approach that tries to apply the same design ideas to both device types.

Using Data to Improve

Everything just above about mobile vs. desktop is true…except when it isn’t. Wait, you may be thinking, that doesn’t make sense!

60% of all internet traffic is mobile, but what about your individual website? While it’s rare these days, sites whose users are less likely to visit from a mobile device can have the majority of users from desktop devices. This could be because the average user is from an older generation, the users generally visit the site during work hours from a work computer, or other reasons.

This is why it’s important not to assume that one solution works for every business. And it’s the type of insight we provide for our clients, basing decisions on data specific to their company.

Examples of UI Elements

We’ve talked in the abstract quite a bit about UI elements on your website. But what about specific design concepts?

Below we’ve listed a handful of basic UI concepts, and what some of the considerations are for their implementation.

This list is far from comprehensive, but will start to give you an idea of what design principles are involved in good UI design.


Breadcrumbs are a framework for navigation on a website. For example, you might enter a Resources page, then a Videos page, then to a specific video. The URL for this page might look something like this:

The breadcrumbs are that path to a specific page. But what if the user isn’t sure what they’re looking for, and the topic they select doesn’t answer their question? They need to be able to quickly navigate back to either the Videos page or even the broader Resources page. 

Including these breadcrumbs backward in the process is useful to reduce user frustration as they search your site.

Search Fields

You have a large educational site with hundreds of pages on different topics. How is someone supposed to navigate them to find the right one?

At Leadflask, we’d employ more than one strategy to solve this problem, but having search fields is one possible solution. If your website is about heating and cooling, for example, including a search bar on relevant pages, or perhaps a search bar in the header across the entire website, will allow users to quickly find what they’re looking for.

Providing User Feedback

When you click a button on a website, what happens? You might not even be conscious of it, but usually there’s a small “click” animation, where the button looks as though you’re pressing it. It may change color or size slightly, or a checkmark may appear once you’ve successfully clicked the button.

This is an example of feedback. By contrast, what happens when you click a button and nothing happens? No animation, no change of webpage, nothing. You’ll probably wonder if you successfully clicked it, and will try again.

This is an example of how a lack of feedback for a user can lead to confusion or frustration. Feedback loops across a website are important to let users know they’re successfully interacting with a website. This will give them confidence in using your site more frequently.

Tooltips and Icons

Potentially without realizing it, you likely know the common symbols for dozens or even hundreds of common website actions. By making icons standardized across devices, and matching them to user expectations on other sites and platforms, you can offer a lot of choices without a lot of text, which helps reduce visual clutter on your site.

And when an icon or element might not be intuitive for all users, including a tooltip to explain it can reduce friction for users.

Hierarchy and Legibility

This is another that you’ve seen thousands of times, but may have never thought about specifically. The title of this article is a large size, and the section headers are smaller. This paragraph copy that you’re reading right now is even smaller still.

These are all examples of hierarchy on a page, in ways that help you to logically understand the information that’s being presented.

Every website has thousands of individual elements, and if the information hierarchy is strange, it will confuse users.

Similarly, if we used a strange font here, it would be harder to read, and you’d be more likely to click away to another website. Legibility relates to both the actual readability of images and text as well as how they’re laid out in relation to one another.

Even these examples are only scratching the surface. If you research UI design further, you’ll learn more about color theory, accessibility, and other principles that apply to website design. These are all taken into account in a good website, but to cover every idea and term would result in a much longer article.

Hopefully, though, the examples above give you a good idea of the types of considerations that should inform good user experience design.

Graphic Design and User Interface Design

The section above should adequately highlight how much graphical elements inform user interface design.

A good graphic designer understands these principles, and dozens of similar principles, and applies them to any project they complete.

Brand Consistency: Why Your Input Matters

A related graphical consideration relates to your brand and its visual identity. You probably have a color scheme, logo, and common images in the materials you produce.

If your website deviates from these expectations, it can be jarring for your customers and clients.

That’s why good UI design isn’t just the job of a graphic designer, but must be done in collaboration with the individual or organization that the website is for. We don’t know your brand as well as you do. That’s why we need your insight in helping to create a visually consistent, amazing website.

UI Design Tools, User Testing & Improvement

Design tools will differ depending on who you work with, but it’s the principles of design that should remain consistent.

At Leadflask, we use Figma for our wireframing, Adobe and Affinity for designing visual elements, Microsoft Clarity for heat mapping, and several other analytical tools for monitoring and testing a site.

The Importance of Testing and Optimizing

User testing is when we have specific users, not the designers of the site, use the site and provide feedback and questions related to their engagement.

This is important because it identifies blind spots that we may have during the design process. Any design, however thoughtfully planned, is a failure if it doesn’t work for the visitors to your site.

Lastly, at Leadflask we believe in continually improving our designs. To that end, once the UI process is complete, the next phase begins, of collecting data on the live website.

This data, through heat mapping or other analytical tools such as Google Analytics and SEMRush, can give us insights into how the site is being used, and identify opportunities for improvement.

The best websites aren’t the first versions of themselves, but are being constantly iterated and improved based on user feedback and analytical data. This is what our team brings to the design process, and what some other agencies won’t do.

Regardless, a methodical UI Design process is one that takes the full scope of a project into account, builds a site that works both for your brand and the site’s users, and changes once launched based on user data. If you do each of these, you’ll be on your way to a great website with an amazing user interface.

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