21 May ü Oughta Know
Content Over Chrome:
A Reduction of UI Complexity
Author: Nick Samia, UI/UX Designer
Over the last decade User Interface design has gone through a number of trends. Each trend shift has had one thing in common, a reduction in complexity giving way to greater focus to content and less focus on chrome (the visual design elements that give users information about the screen’s content).
When computer interfaces were first introduced, mapping the digital world to things that people recognized from the real world was important. A calculator looking like a real calculator complete with visually raised buttons was necessary to inform users on how to interact with the user interface and to let them know what to expect when they did. This trend of hyper-realism was termed “skeuomorphism” and was popularized greatly by Apple and their OS.
As users became more familiar with new design patterns, including touch screens and new user interface elements the need to mimic real-world affordances was diminished and “Flat Design” was born. Designers began to strip away graphical elements that had no significant value or purpose within the user interface and develop their own visual elements unique to the digital world. Take for example the “hamburger icon”, you know the icon that hides the navigation on most smartphone apps? This interface element exists only in the digital world; however people now know how to interact with it and what to expect when they do. Removing complex graphical elements and replacing them with minimal, light weight visual elements means users have less distraction and can focus on the content.
If we take cues from industry leaders in 2018 we see a further removal of visual clutter and a greater focus on content, comprehension and usability as a continued goal of many UX and UI designers. Irrelevant information is continuing to be removed and a greater emphasis is being placed on prioritizing relevant information. Characterized by bigger, bolder headlines, simpler more universal icons and the removal of color, the UI of some of our favorite apps are leading this design trend.