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Designing a great user interface can be a challenge, even for the most seasoned designer. Countless factors need to be taken into consideration and the difference between a good UI and a great one often boils down to paying close attention to the smallest details.
When undertaking such an important and often complex task, it’s helpful to have some handy resources for both education and inspiration. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorites below. Since we can only scratch the surface of the wide variety of UI design resources available, we invite you to share yours in the comments.
Let’s start off by taking a look at three great galleries for UI design inspiration.
MephoBox is a design showcase that catalogs sites with beautiful interfaces and also collections of common site elements, such as login forms, headers, pagination, and so on. If you’re looking for ideas or approaches to designing specific page elements, MephoBox collections can be a great source of inspiration.
2. UI Patterns
UI Patterns showcases user interface design patterns – com-only recurring trends and best practices in UI design for a variety of elements. Providing more detail than a basic gallery, UI Patterns showcases design patterns, discusses their usage, and the problems each pattern aims to solve, and in what way.
3. Pattern Tap
Pattern Tap is one of the more well-known UI design showcases and is similar to MephoBox in its design pattern collections. Unlike MephoBox, though, the collections are a bit more varied (the site currently baosts 45 collection catagories to MephoBox’s 16), including a showcase of elements like modal windows, slideshows, comments, adevertising design and placement, and more.
Reading up on UI Design
Sometimes it’s not enough to simply look at a design showcase. Often, you’ll want to read about a particular design pattern or approaches to a problem, as well. So here are three great educational resources for boning up on UI design.
4. Inspire UX
Inspire UX is a user experience design blog that features articles, quotes, case studies and explorations into the world of user experience and interface design. A great resource, Inspire UX articles cover a broad range of topics from book reviews to helpful tips and well-thought explorations into existing design patterns and implementations.
5. UX Magazine
UX Magazine is a user experience and design publication dedicated to “elevating user experience, one article at a time.” With plenty of original content as well as technical and inspirational design roundups from around the web, UX Magazine explores the details that make a great user experience. If you’re looking for information on best practices, creative problem solving resources or a better understanding of those problems, UX Magazine is chock full of great articles to assist you.
6. UI Scraps
This blog by designer Jason Robb showcases interesting and insightful user interfaces. The great thing about UI Scraps is that the site isn’t simply a showcase of great work. Robb brings you the bad along with the good, making it a great resource for learning what not to do. The tone of the blog is conversational and casual, but Mr. Robb’s remarks are spot-on and UI scraps is a fun, interesting resource for UI design practices.
Down the Rabbit Hole
Still what more? Looking for something a little more technical? UI design isn’t just about making a pretty picture. There’s a lot of science behind the methodologies and patterns we use every day. Here are a few sites that delve even further into the technical and scientific aspects of UI design.
If statistics are what you’re after, Web Design Practices is the place to be. The site showcases and describes several common web design elements, practices, and patterns and discusses frequency of use and effectiveness of each. Many examples are also provided and, wherever possible, links are provided to relevant research data, so you can take a first-hand look at the study yourself.
UIE is a professional organization for user interface designers and UI experts. UIE provides education and training to its members and the public at large through conferences, articles, virtual siminars, and other publications. On the UIE site, you’ll find a plethora of great articles covering a variety of UI and UX design topics, many of which have plenty of scientific and research data to back them up.
Boxes and Arrows is another great online publication dedicated to exploring the art and science of UI design. It has articles and research materials on best practices, techniques, and user behavior and expectations. There are also a number of case studies, interviews and product reviews, as well as a podcats. If you want to truly understand UI design, Boxes and Arrows is an invaluable resource.
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