As technology progresses, it offers a plethora of interfaces to choose from. Nonetheless, buttons continue to remain a popular choice for user interfaces. Buttons are an easy and effective way to interact with products or services owing to their simplicity and intuitiveness. They are easily recognisable and can cater to specific requirements of a product or service, offering a unique and personalised experience. Hence, making buttons a versatile and compelling option to create an easy and pleasant experience for the user.
Buttons: What Are They and Are They Essential?
Ever since the inception of graphical user interfaces (GUIs), buttons have played an integral role in their design. Over 44 years ago, the original Xerox PARC GUI was released and it still shares many features with modern user interfaces. To study the evolution of button styles, I have developed the Dribbble Timeline. It is evident that while buttons have advanced with technology and kept up with popular fashion, they have also been heavily influenced by the functional designs of real-world objects from the past.
For a decade now, we have been fabricating and designing digital devices that can be operated without a physical interface, for instance, through voice commands or gestures. It’s natural to ponder why we still create digital tools that draw inspiration from conventional objects that already exist in our surroundings. Even digital buttons still bear a striking resemblance to tools and methods invented in the nineteenth century!
Our research and development team has created ingenious and smart technological devices that can be operated in various ways, yet we still depend on users to click on a very specific and small area of the screen, which is most likely due to inertia or long-established convention.
It’s time to act- the time has come to contemplate without buttons.
“Button-less” UI – A Place Where Interaction Happens
A “button-less utopia” is a notion that advocates for a departure from century-old conventions. As we embrace the dawn of a new era, it is crucial that we accept the prospects and potential offered by modern advancements and exodus from obsolete methodologies implemented by our predecessors.
It is conceivable to imagine an interface without buttons that is so intuitive that users can comprehend its usage merely by looking at it. Such interfaces are not just a fanciful thought; they already exist and are in use.
Is it time to bid farewell to the beloved button? With the plethora of modern technology accessible today, including microphones, cameras, touch screens, vibration, accelerometers, gyros, GPS, extended reality and virtual reality, all of which can be controlled from a smartphone or computer, there’s no need to require customers to press a single small button.
Eliminating Buttons From User Interfaces
Have you perused Type Design, which centres exclusively on content and omits the use of visual components like buttons? We’ve received plenty of inquiries about the lack of buttons, and our answer is that they’re no longer required, therefore, let’s do away with them entirely.
Here are a few fascinating notions:
Facebook recently inquired “How are you feeling?” and there’s no need to click a button to respond; you can simply let them know that you’re feeling great and planning a beach trip. If Facebook understands your response text, you can drag and position it to your desired location for display.
Previously, readers of Medium articles could express their admiration for an article by simply recommending it. However, nowadays, readers must use the “claps” button to indicate their support. It would be advantageous if readers could show their appreciation by solely clapping, without the need to press the button.
Finalising an online checkout process can be exceedingly easy, particularly when employing modern technology. For instance, one can effortlessly drag an item into the shopping basket, swipe to the checkout page, and confirm the payment with their fingerprint, making the purchase process seamless and trouble-free for customers.
Contemplate the Content Along With the Entire Screen
Touch screen displays have evidently become the leading graphical user interface and this trend is likely to persist for an extended period. Our sense of touch is our primary sense and tapping on the screen grants us a sense of command and movement. Therefore, we should contemplate assimilating the concept of instructing users to interact with the whole display surface instead of solely relying on clicks on specific locations. This would enhance the user experience further, rendering it even more intuitive.
Have you ever taken the time to notice the feature on Instagram that enables you to navigate between Stories without having to scroll manually? This handy feature is activated by swiping the left side of the screen, allowing you to quickly navigate back to the previous Story.
As users get more accustomed to digital products and services, they expect a variety of fresh, interactive methods of engagement that don’t essentially require button pushing. For instance, users anticipate cards to be touch-sensitive across their entire surface area; clicking a word results in seeing a description, and touching an image leads to some sort of activity. Furthermore, users are now familiar with large areas responding to touch.
Mimicking and recognising gestures in our daily routine is second-nature, and that is why they’re increasingly being employed in various applications. For example, instead of pressing a button, we’re now able to double-tap a photo to open it, swipe to move through a photo gallery or pinch to zoom in and out of any information. These gestures are becoming omnipresent, enabling quicker and more intuitive navigation.
Gestures can be executed not only on flat touchscreens but also in AR and VR environments where we may move our entire body.
As the usage of voice-activated user interfaces such as Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Assistant continues to surge, it’s clear that speech interfaces are rapidly becoming the future of human-computer interaction. Thanks to the advancements of artificial intelligence and machine learning, machines are now able to comprehend human language more accurately, allowing us to converse with computers in complete phrases, instead of following a set of prescribed commands. This unveils a vast array of possibilities, not limited to controlling vehicles, smart buildings, machinery, as well as developing more personalised and organic exchanges between humans and computers. The potential applications of voice-activated user interfaces are truly boundless.
We can now effortlessly conduct quick fund transfers to other individuals by harnessing the potential of voice technology. For instance, with Siri, you can employ the command “Siri, send $200 to XYZ via PayPal” to promptly and securely transfer money via PayPal. All that’s required for authentication and security is a straightforward Touch ID verification. This simple process enables efficient and secure fund transfers.
Physical Actions, Connected Devices and Video Recognition
Paying without depending on buttons is now feasible primarily due to the collaboration between Alibaba and KFC. This groundbreaking technology, predicated on facial recognition, is already accessible in China, letting consumers pay through a mere smile at the camera. This is a groundbreaking development for the payment industry, and its emergence is worth celebrating.
Our devices have virtually limitless possibilities. Outfitted with a range of sensors, they can monitor your entire body. Furthermore, there are no restrictions to using your smartphone with just one finger to accomplish any task.
Buttons may soon become a thing of the past with the ascension of wearable technology. For instance, the Apple Watch can be linked with laptops to remotely unlock them, thus reducing the necessity for buttons. Additionally, wearable devices can verify identity and even project demands based on location and sensor data. As a result, many user interfaces no longer rely on the use of buttons.
It’s vital not to overlook the technologies that are widely accessible to us. For instance, almost every smartphone features a gyroscope, yet it’s seldom utilised in interfaces. The experimental interfaces, as seen above, have been developed by Patryk Ada.
UI Designs of the Future
As the scope of available technologies continues to broaden, we can contemplate departing from the use of conventional rectangular buttons for user interaction. With today’s technological advances, we can exhibit entirely novel user interfaces that can provide a more comprehensive and captivating experience. These advanced interfaces can offer a more vibrant and instinctive user experience, ultimately elevating user satisfaction and loyalty.
- User’s time will be preserved.
- Prevent slips, errors and mistakes.
- Rectify inadvertent actions.
The time has arrived – technology is catching up with us. Designers must pursue it…and don’t forget to keep up!