Roller UI
March 6, 2018

The Potential of Invisible UI for A Design Revolution

Written By Nikki McCaig
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Taking the unnecessary interfaces out of modern technology.

‘Whenever I turn on a device, I’m met not by Google or Safari, but by a blank page and the word Housekeeper. There are just three tabs: Home, Search and Cloud. The ‘Search’ function filters out adverts, pop ups offering me a flatter belly, distressing news stories, top tens, gossip about minor celebrities, spam and cookies. There are no bookmarks, no history, no saved data. I am wiped clean every time I close the screen. It’s strangely liberating.’    The Girl Before, JP Delaney

The origins of the term ‘Invisible UI’ have been recently directed towards Andy Goodman, the director of technology company Fjord. Taking the modern Scandi trends of minimalist lifestyles and incorporating them into the most influential pieces of technology is a bold, yet risky move for approaching broader user spectrums.

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What is Invisible UI

Invisible User Interface is a design style in which the standard interfaces and user greeting systems are reduced down to their most essential functions, or eradicated completely, allowing the user to gain immediate access to the information or function they need.

In its most advanced form Invisible UI or Zero UX is where the user experience is neutralised in favour of accessing the key sets of data or function. For example, a television that can be controlled through the wave of a hand, voice activated devices, AI equipment and any hands free device could all be considered to have zero UX. The experience the user has with the product should be so limited that it is barely considered an interaction.

No tick boxes, few steps from A to B, no complex journeys to achieving the end result – just engaging and using. In terms of app design, this can mean reduced splash screens, simple buttons, minimalist user journeys and shorter, more meaningful interactions with the base intention of the app.

So what does this mean for design?

For many designers, the concept of Zero UI or Invisible UX could present a concern. Reducing the amount of user driven design that goes into creating a product means that the workload will be drastically reduced, with minimalist concepts taking precedence over carefully thought out user interactions.

Luckily, however, the processes of traditional design can still be adapted to this new format. Using the same strategy of UI, designers need to, instead of working from an interaction-first perspective, work from a interaction-less perspective. How can the user avoid using this button? How can the user still access this function, without having to press this, touch that, engage with this screen?

Invisible UI might be a new challenge for designers, but one they should be excited by, rather than fearful of.

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The traditional processes of design have been approached and re-used for years now, and whilst there are still obvious, comfortable benefits to their implementation, the world of design is constantly discovering new and innovative ways to improve on the old.

To learn more about the philosophies of design, and how Invisible or Zero UI can come into play in everyday life, we recommend watching the below video for the insights of David Norman