This principle that applies to good user experiences driven by equally good UI design: the degree of quality is determined by the ratio of relevant information (signal) to irrelevant information (noise) that appears in the UI. Noise reduces clarity, usability and value; it dilutes useful information with useless information.
Noise is the five self-congratulatory paragraphs on a website’s home page that starts with, “As one of the leading companies in the nation, we’re you’re best partner because we understand your unique challenges you face blah blah blah.” All you want to know is what the hell they DO and whether or not that will help you.
Noise comes from places you least expect it; those overlooked, seemingly unimportant areas of the UI that the majority of designers and developers rarely pay attention to (but absolutely should).
This visual clutter taking up every square pixel of the screen is usually the product of a client, stakeholder, designer or developer who believes that more is the equivalent of better.
Progressive disclosure is absolutely critical to good UX — because it helps people manage complexitywithout becoming confused, frustrated, or disoriented.
So how do we minimize noise? By removing unnecessary elements, and simplifying representation of necessary elements.
- Reduce icon overload.
- Sell value, not features.
- Be deliberate about color.
- Revamp your advanced filters.
- Actually design mobile first.
- Don’t stick elements willy nilly.
- Design for the worst, hope for the best.
- Limit feature dependencies.