In this post, you’ll find the definition of the user interface content, its features, and the UI content elements for web and apps.
What is the user interface content (UI content)?
If you’re asking yourself this question, you’re in the right place. In this post, you’ll find the answer to your question and four others:
- What is the user interface (UI)?
- What are the UI content features?
- What are the UI content elements?
- Why the UI content looks more like a patchwork than a collage?
Would you like to get the answers to these questions and learn the UI content basics? Keep reading!
Table of Contents
What is the user interface (UI)
The user interface is the medium where a user interacts with a machine.
The machines are the following: computers, mobile devices, GPS, web pages, desktop applications, mobile applications, etc.
However, the interaction between users and machines doesn’t limit to asking questions or receiving answers.
The interaction covers many actions, from filling out forms to clicking buttons or links to navigate a web page, display a menu or perform an installation.
What are the UI content features
To prevent the user from getting frustrated while communicating with the machine, we should offer help and support.
For example, if the user is about to install an application on their mobile device, our job is to provide instructions and explain what steps to follow. To do that, we need the UI content.
User interface content (UI content) is the content that appears in the user interface as a response or reaction to a user’s action.
The goal of UI content is to improve the user experience within the interface.
For UI content to improve the user experience, it needs to be informative, intuitive, and user-friendly. That means it should meet the following three requirements:
- Explain to the users where they are and what the next step is, what to do next (information)
- Follow a standardised and uniform content pattern (simplification)
- Use a conversational and user-centred language (user-friendliness)
What are the UI content elements
Moments in which the interaction between the user and the machine takes place we call touchpoints.
Depending on the touchpoint, the user encounters one or another UI content element.
There are four groups of UI content elements that correspond to different touchpoints.
In continuation, you’ll find information about the UI content elements groups we can find on web pages and applications:
- Elements that guide the user
- Elements that inform the user
- Elements that facilitate navigation
- Elements that facilitate choice-making and data entry
Elements that guide the user
Goal: To explain to the user what the next step in the process is
- Instructions – The instruction content aims to explain to the user what steps are required to complete the desired action and how to carry them out.
- Tooltips – Tooltips offer some contextual information regarding the use of the tool. These are also called help bubbles.
- Empty states – The empty state content explains to the user what additional actions they may take or how to solve a connection problem. We can use empty states to perform upselling as well.
Elements that inform the user
Goal: To ask the user for permission or inform them about the error or the completion of an action
- Notifications – The notification content informs the user about the completion of an action (for example, a file download) or asks for some kind of permission (for example, to know their location).
- Alerts – The alert content tells the user about two error types: information validation errors or system errors.
Elements that facilitate navigation
Goal: To inform the user about the result of their action
- Dialogues – The dialogue content aims to ask the user for confirmation (decision dialogues) and provide some information (information dialogues).
- Button text – The button text (Call-to-Action or CTA) is there to explain to the user what happens after they click the button.
Elements that facilitate choice-making and data entry
Goal: To support the user in moments of choice-making and data entry
- Lists – The content of the lists helps the user to choose one of the options. That’s the goal of navigation menus, checkboxes, and drop-down lists.
- Forms – The content of the forms offers the user support and additional information on the data they should enter (for example, if it’s mandatory or not to enter particular information).
The UI content is patchwork, not collage
In this post, we’ve seen:
- What is the user interface
- What is the UI content
- What are the UI content features
- What are the UI content elements for web and apps
However, before finishing the post, I insist on the following: In most of the cases, we can find all the UI content elements in a particular user interface.
Why is that?
Because the UI content elements facilitate an extraordinary user experience only by “working” together.
So, we could conclude that the user interface content is similar to a photo collage. However, it’s not. The UI content is more like patchwork.
Patchwork or “pieced work” is a form of needlework that involves sewing together pieces of fabric into a larger design. The larger design is usually based on repeating patterns built up with different fabric shapes (which can be different colors).Patchwork, Wikipedia
The UI content elements are small “pieces of fabric” that come together to create a new quality. That quality is the user experience.
However, we don’t randomly put the UI content elements together.
On the contrary, before crafting the UI content, it’s essential to research, plan and design the pattern to be used. Only that way, the UI patchwork technique produces joyful, colourful and engaging user experiences.
A Writing-Friendly Question: Do you find any element of the UI content more important than the rest?
I'm a content writer, copywriter, and UX writer. Serbian by birth, in Barcelona by occasion, writer by decision. I'm in love with the yellow colour, the art of storytelling, and the following phrase from Don Draper (Mad Men): "The client loves to pay the media, and the CREATIVE loves the PENCILS."
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