Color is a primary and powerful ingredient of visual design.
Designers create a color palette for a user interface (UI) to support the intent of the interaction, and to bring the personality of the brand to the application. There should always be a rational reason for choosing a color and they are mixed according to the principles of color theory . Colors are selected to provide good contrast between text and background for legibility and accessibility, or because they have a semantic meaning.
The color balance is the proportion in which the colors of a palette are used in relation to one another. This sets the overall tone of the UI and creates an inner sense of order.
Typography defines the font type, size, and style used for text elements in the UI. As text becomes a primary form of navigation with less focus on graphical elements such as buttons, typography plays a more important role in UI design.
Designers create hierarchies through different font sizes, colors, and placement on the screen.
Contrast provides necessary variety and makes items stand out by emphasizing differences in size, color, direction, and other characteristics.
Layout grids organize content, ensure consistent placement and alignment, and that elements are correctly proportioned in relation to one another. A well-designed composition of elements provides a sense of harmony and trust, and creates an illusion of movement to guide the eye.
Space is also an important ingredient. It helps reduce visual noise and create visual hierarchy.
Textures, patterns, and visual layering techniques can be used to bring a sense of dimension to an application.
Icons graphically illustrate an action, a status, or an application itself. The best icons are made of simple, memorable shapes. The more complex an illustration, the harder it is to decipher and retain the meaning.
Animation and visual feedback
Visual feedback is one way an application talks to the user. It communicates that actions have been taken into account and that the application is working. Carefully calibrated visual transitions help users to understand changes in the UI. However, color changes and animations should be just enough to inform. Done well, they bring life to the UI and delight the user; done badly they distract or even annoy.
The right balance
Visual design is all about balance. It must strike a balance between unity and variety to avoid a monotonous or visually chaotic design. It must also strike a balance between legibility and usability, and visual appeal. This can only be achieved by having a solid grounding in the basic principles of design and a deep understanding of the goal and intent of the software application.