Players rarely notice a good interface, because it doesn’t interfere with the gameplay, irritate or catch the eye. At the same time, a good UI also communicates all the necessary information, hides unnecessary data, pleases the eye, and improves feedback from the game. It’s a whole complex system.
So how do you create a good interface, and is there a balance between style and information? We’ll discover this below.
What makes a good interface?
Good interfaces can be hard to spot because they don’t catch your eye – you just don’t notice them while playing. To achieve this effect, designers providing UI/UX design services advice to follow a few rules.
- Don’t forget about biology and how the human eyes and brain work
For example, the human eye is very sensitive to red, so you need to work with it more carefully. Especially in the HUD (part of the player’s visual interface that is displayed against the background of the virtual game space in a video game), the red elements draw attention to themselves, but are well suited to indicate danger: low health, damage received, or a message that the mission is about to fail.
Moreover, the brain perceives the form best, and it takes more time to process colors and details. Therefore, it is better to make icons on the screen in different shapes to make them easier to read.
The brain also gets used to continuing lines and combining elements into familiar shapes. The interface should take this into account and place individual indicators and scales so that they are formed, for example, into a rectangle, and the most important information is closer to the center of the screen.
- Follow the rule of seven elements
To make it easier for the player to read information, the HUD should be limited to a maximum of seven elements, and the various menus shouldn’t be made too deep – a maximum of three levels. If possible, it is better to snap the interface to the edges and corners of the screen – this is also useful when scaling the UI for different resolutions.
- Replace text with icons
If too much text appears in the interface, then you can partially try to replace it with icons. Not only do they take up less space, but they also read better in the midst of gameplay. Also, icons are easier to adapt to different game conditions so that they are equally well perceived both in a peaceful environment and under fire.
Conventional solutions need to be combined with unique techniques that are developed for a specific project. Roughly speaking, if something works in the interface and players like it, there is no need to change it, unless you are pursuing some unusual goal.
- Test UI
Finally, any UI needs to be tested, and under the most extreme conditions: highlight everything on the screen that can be highlighted, and blow up everything that can be blown up. If at the same time all the information remains readable, then the designers have coped with the design and placement of the elements.
Testing also helps to understand how the UI will be perceived by different audiences. For example, Japanese gamers love lists within lists, lots of growing indicators, and increasing numbers on the screen, and Japanese developers try to cater to these tastes. The reason is in traditional culture and in the way people are used to reading and perceiving information.
You need to test your solutions not only inside the studio but also on the players. You can even try playtesting on people who don’t actually play games – this will help you understand if you’re moving in the right direction.
What makes an interface bad?
- the volatility of information and how to get to it;
- bad formatting of text elements;
- bad interface scale;
- overdesign – a situation where the appearance of the interface prevails over information content, and it becomes difficult to distinguish interactive elements from non-interactive ones.
The UI should look good, but not be the focus of the entire screen and shout to the player: “Hey, I’m the interface, pay attention to me!”. Designers are trying to create such a UI that it turns out to be almost “transparent” – people are playing a game, not an interface, and the UI just needs to help this game.
We hope our tips were helpful to you. Wish you great development!