Make Way for the Invisible User Interface!
The invisible user interface, also called “NoUI” or “NUI” (Natural User Interface), or no interface, refers to a type of interaction that revolutionizes the world of interaction design. It is about going without the controllers that are often used to interact with a human-machine interface (HMI), such as the mouse, keyboard, touch screen, etc. This is in order to create a more immersive and natural user experience.
Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent.Joe Sparano
Invisible design is a revolutionary concept that aims to free itself from the systematization of the classic graphical interface and design an intelligent interface that reproduces human reasoning. With the rise in digital product consumption and technological breakthroughs, the invisible user interface has become more and more popular. The emergence of voice interfaces and personal assistant services is a more well-known example, but in this essay, I’ll focus on how it applies to visual user interfaces through interaction.
What is an Invisible User Interface?
The Invisible User Interface (or Zero UI) is a real revolution that has disrupted several standards in the field of design. This is the latest trend in user interface design.
The user interface (UI) has undergone several evolutions and has taken several forms:
- the classic WIMP interface,
- the GUI (Graphical User Interface) solution surfaces,
- the voice-activated interface (VUI),
- the gesture-based interface, which is used in particular in virtual reality (VR).
- the touch screen,
- The Invisible User Interface.
The Invisible User Interface relies on human intuitions to compose a non-visual human-machine interaction (without going through a user interface) that imitates the behaviors of the human being (gestures, looks, voice). This gives the impression of communicating with a human being and not with a machine.
The NoUI interface deploys the technical prowess of modern digital devices and the performance of their sensing sensors to create a more powerful user experience that exceeds the limit of good visual design.
We live in a digital world that is developing at lightning speed. We use different automated devices (Google Home speaker, smartphones, touch screens, Apple Watch, etc.) to make our lives easier and get things done faster. To this end, there is a strong rivalry between the different technologies, in order to invent the most ingenious techniques that approach the mental model of the user and that make it possible to create a stimulating UX.
In particular, the NUI interface is based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) processes and techniques to interpret the natural behaviors of the human being and interact seamlessly with the interactive system. This concerns in particular:
- facial recognition,
- speech recognition,
- recognition of movement,
- Internet of Things (IoT)
The no interface also uses advanced technologies to create immersive interactions such as:
- the Microsoft camera, for warmer body interactions.
- The Amazon Echo speaker, for more user-friendly voice interactions.
- The Nest thermostat, for interesting ambient interactions.
Examples of the application of invisible design
There are several examples of how Invisible User Interface can be applied, such as:
- Removing the home button from Apple’s new mobile devices, to reduce the gestures provided to activate them and make it easier to manipulate the mobile device.
- Google’s invisible CAPTCHA solution, which consists of using a specific widget to check if the user is a human being, without the user making any interaction with the interface. Just click the validation button to trigger the CAPTCHA verification process in the background.
This method makes the form submission process easier and rids the user of this task that seems tedious for some users.
- Smart Guides from Photoshop and Sketch. These guides are automatically activated when the user moves an object, to display the distance between that object and the surrounding objects. This feature is very advantageous for designers to organize objects on the worktop easily and with greater precision. This without the need to press a key or icon to display this information.
- The Soli project is an innovative technology for detecting the body’s natural gestures, through a miniature radar, to control objects remotely and without contact. This method refers to universal non-verbal communication models to create immersive dialogue.
The principles of Invisible User Interface design
The invisible design must be customizable, in order to ensure a customizable user experience (as well). This is in order to motivate users and provide the impression that the experience is designed especially for them. The latter will feel that they have control of the system and that they can modify options in the system as they wish.
Personalization acts positively on the user’s emotions and develops their satisfaction, offering them an experience adapted to their needs. It is an eminent factor to better value the customer and strengthen their adherence to the brand.
The design of an invisible NoUI interface must be simple, in order to ensure easy interaction with the digital system. This saves the user the time and effort required to use the digital product. Thus, its use will be easier, allowing the user to achieve their goal quickly and efficiently.
As an illustration, the Hamburger menu was a striking trend in mobile apps for years. This element consists of gathering the tabs of a menu in an icon composed of 3 stacked horizontal bars, to fill the display constraint on the reduced size of the screens of mobile devices.
Despite the practicality of this hidden navigation solution, it has demonstrated some disadvantages such as the disinterest of some mobile users who consider that this menu is not important enough to discover it. This can hurt the conversion rate of some pages that don’t get visits since they’re buried in this menu. So, to respond to the concern for simplicity, we must not abandon the other factors that can turn this asset into a defect and deteriorate the user experience.
Interaction with invisible HMI interfaces must be smooth and undemanding. It must promote easy learning of the functionalities of the interactive system, without causing a great mental load. This creates an intuitive and natural dialogue, allowing the user to move faster in his journey.
Invisible design aims to design an easy journey, which allows the customer to make a seamless transition from one state to another, without irritating sticking points. The NoUI interface makes it possible to create a progressive experience, without glaring interruptions that can lead to user distraction. Thus, he can fully focus on his journey and directly achieve his goal.
For example, it is necessary to rationalize the display time and the number of notifications, modal windows, and popups, to avoid annoying the user, each time, with these messages and pushing them to leave the site or the application.
It is also recommended to develop different user journey scenarios and test them on target customers. This is in order to base HMI interactions on the needs and perceptions of the latter.
Good error tolerance
Human beings are often prone to making mistakes. The Invisible User Interface must take this into consideration and develop a flexible path with a good level of error tolerance. Invisible design must provide the user with the right solutions, at the right time, to help him get out of the deadlock situation and restore the ordinary rhythm of interaction with the digital system.
Invisible design must be based on interactivity and user-friendliness. As a result, the digital system can react actively in the event of an error, in particular by offering advice or a small guide to the actions to be taken to correct an anomaly. Thus, we avoid the repetition of the error and the disappointment of the user.
The NoUI design should be flexible, so as to take into account users familiar with the HMI interface, who do not have trouble easily solving any problems. Besides users who require some assistance to be able to use the product with as little frustration as possible.
An immersive user experience
Invisible human-machine interfaces must take the user into an immersive and attractive experience, in which he fully sinks. To do this, these interfaces refer to new technologies, such as artificial intelligence. It is the ideal solution to strengthen user retention and engagement.
It is essential for any company to set up an effective loyalty strategy, to be able to resist in a hyper-competitive digital environment.
Why use an Invisible User Interface?
The Invisible User Interface aims to effectively optimize the user experience, thanks to an intuitive design that allows you to:
- Create more user-friendly and contextual interfaces, based on common user behaviors. This allows them to perform their tasks easily and with minimal effort.
- Anticipate user behavior, thanks to the mass of data injected into the Machine Learning system. It is a machine learning technique that aims to teach the system a large amount of data, with the aim of gaining several experiences and inferring the appropriate behavior, in each situation.
- Anticipatory design promotes the creation of a personalized experience while reducing the cognitive load on the user.
- Improve the well-being of the user and facilitate their daily life.
- Facilitate interaction with the digital product by optimizing error management, in order to minimize them and provide the user with easy-to-understand and apply solutions to solve them.
- Create a friendly and emotional user experience that inspires the user and develops empathy. Understanding the psychology of the customer makes it possible to conceive a design according to his needs, rather than forcing him to adapt to the challenges of the use of the product.
- Design a consistent application not only regarding the visual appearance of its UI elements, but also, but these components must also be harmonious in their meaning.
A practical guide to creating an invisible user interface
Here are some guidelines for developing an Invisible User Interface:
- design beyond the screen. Notably, voice-activated devices, such as Google Home, suggest simpler and more natural interaction, through speech and voice communication. Voice interaction is a real solution to respond quickly to user requests. To this end, great attention must be paid to the tone of voice used, in order to make communication more natural and promote understanding of the messages received.
- Streamline the choice of colors. Indeed, it is necessary to achieve the right combination of colors, in order to create the right balance and harmony to positively affect the emotions of the user.
- Select the typography that adapts to the context of use. Each font has a special meaning. In particular, serif fonts are used in a transitional and neo-classical context, for their elegant and discreet appearance. These fonts evoke trust, respect and authority.
- In addition, sans-serif fonts are modern, user-friendly, clear, and crisp fonts. This is why they are used to attract attention and promote brand memorization.
- Orchestrate the texts and words used to convey the message with the right tone. This is what allows to play on the emotions of the user and to ensure that they have understood the message.
- Simplify the user journey. Indeed, a simple journey is among the foundations of successful Invisible User Interfaces. To do this, it is necessary to focus on the key steps and eliminate redundancies. This is in order to create an eloquent and refined interface of superfluous steps that can bog down the user’s journey.
It is relevant to carry out user tests to identify how users behave to interact instinctively with the digital device.
Invisible design is a new trend in UI/UX design. It provides UX Designers and interaction designers with new techniques, based on artificial intelligence processes, to create a natural interaction that mimics the cognitive functions of the human being. This is in order to offer an intuitive and immersive user experience.
With the increasing development of technology and the frequent use of connected devices, it is interesting to design a seamless interface that goes beyond the simple interfacing screen.
The Invisible User Interface presents itself as a revolutionary alternative to the graphical interface. It offers new perspectives of more creative design that does not require multiple gestures and graphic components to interact with the interactive system.