A look into UI Streamlining Software
Until recently, and currently for many others, if you want multiple user interfaces (UIs) for desktop, mobile, and tablet, you need to manually adapt one form to another, which can be time-consuming and expensive. There is existing software that can automatically transfer a desktop version of a UI to a mobile version, but this gives the designer very little control over the look and usability of the mobile version. However, there is a newly released open-source software that could change this, and the future of UI design.
As of May 7th, 2019, a collaborative effort between University of Bath, University of Maryland, and Simon Fraser University resulted in open-source software, called ORC Layout (OR-constraint Layout), that streamlines the user interface design process. This means that once a desktop version of the UI has been designed, it will automatically be transferable to mobile and tablet versions, while still giving the designer control over the final result. This includes the design and orientation of all versions, simplifying the designer’s duties, allowing them to focus on a single UI.
The ORC Layout Features
The ORC Layout also suggest different layouts, from which the designer can choose. The designer, in the desktop UI, can even select which widgets are necessary versus optional. The ORC Layout will automatically bump the optional material if there is no more room in the mobile layout. This increases usability in the mobile version, so user experience is improved, increasing use and retention.
Another plus to this new software is that if you update one version, all other versions will automatically update. Not only does this feature decrease the amount of time spent updating each UI, but it also reduces the chance of error, since the focus is all on one UI, instead of every version that exists.
Looking into the Future
This is an exciting time for UI design and development as the technology will only continue to improve and speed up the software development process. There have been many attempts in the past to simplify the development process, each resulting in its own unique set of challenges. This new ORC Layout software sounds promising, so let’s see how it is adapted by software developers long-term.