UI design book

UI design is hard
just got easier

Learn a logic-driven approach to design intuitive, accessible, and beautiful interfaces using quick and practical guidelines.

Jon Alport - Engineer
Adrian Ciaschetti - Product designer
Elliot Rylands - Product designer
Loved by hundreds
5/5
UI design book by Adham Dannaway

Use a system of logical guidelines, rather than just gut feeling.

Interface design might appear to be a magical art form, but a lot of it is made up from logical rules or guidelines.

Much more than just making an interface look pretty.

Learn the how and why behind UI design to ensure that every design detail has a logical purpose behind it.

No tedious, impractical, or vague interface design theory.

Just quick and actionable guidelines with examples and a logical rationale to help back up your design decisions.

Don't just move stuff around until it looks pretty

Interface design is hard. Having endless design possibilities sounds great in theory, but in practice, it can be frustrating and time consuming.

With so many options to choose from regarding layout, spacing, typography, and colour, making design decisions can be overwhelming. When you add usability, accessibility, and psychology to the mix, it gets even harder.

Luckily, UI design doesn’t have to be so hard. Over the years, I’ve realised that most of my visual and interaction design decisions are governed by a system of logical rules. Not artistic flair or magical intuition, just simple rules.

Sure, artistic talent helps, but a lot of what makes up an intuitive, accessible, and beautiful interface design can be learned. Having a system of logical rules helps you efficiently make informed design decisions. Without a logical system, you’re just using gut feeling to move stuff around until it looks pretty.

I love rules and logic, but design decisions are rarely black and white. Rather than strict rules that you must follow, think of the advice in this book as helpful guidelines that work well in most cases.

I wish I’d known these guidelines when I first started out. They’re a culmination of nearly 2 decades working as a product designer on products used by millions of people. My hope is that they’ll help you gain years of experience in a matter of hours.

Adham Dannaway
Pushing pixels since 2005

Some pages from the book

Pages from UI design book
Pages from UI design book
Target audience

Who's this book for?

Beginner or intermediate designers, developers, user researchers, or product managers looking to design informed and professional website and mobile applications.

Jordan Hughes - Product designer
Jordan Hughes
Product designer

I’ve been following Adham for years, he’s always been a big inspiration. His book is clear, concise, and packed full of visual and interaction design tips.”

5/5
Jon Alport - Engineer
Jon Alport
Software engineer

As an engineer, I found the book to be really hands-on and easy to follow. Breaking down interface design into logical rules is genius.

5/5
Adrian Ciaschetti - Product designer
Adrian Ciaschetti
UX designer

Such a useful and practical book by one of the best in the game. Love this logic-driven approach to UI design. Surprisingly powerful.

5/5
Book chapters

No vague, impractical theory. Just quick, actionable advice.

Rather than comprehensively detailing countless chapters of tedious, high-level design theory, I’ve created 8 concise chapters of the most important things you need to know about interface design, usability, and accessibility.

1. Fundamentals

Overarching UI design principles that form the foundation of the guidelines

2. Less is more

Practical techniques to simplify interfaces by removing unnecessary details

3. Colour

Learn how to use colour sparingly and purposefully to add meaning to an interface

4. Layout and spacing

Create a consistent spacing system and learn about alignment and layout

5. Typography

Learn a system of logical guidelines to make text beautiful and easy to read

6. Copywriting

Practical guidelines on how to write interface text that clearly communicates with people

7. Forms

Form patterns and principles to help people complete forms more quickly and easily

8. Buttons

Learn how to design descriptive and accessible buttons with a clear visual hierarchy

Visual examples

A picture is worth a thousand words

Following guidelines from the book, I designed hundreds of pixel perfect visual examples to clearly and quickly demonstrate concepts. If you don’t like heavy reading, you’ll love this UI design book.

Visual UI design examples from the UI design book
Visual UI design examples from the UI design book
What's inside

A few guidelines from the book

Here are 2 of 100+ design guidelines you’ll find in the book. Each guideline comes with visual examples and a clear rationale.

Copywriting

Break up content using descriptive headings and bullets

Break up large pieces of information into multiple smaller ones. This makes it easier and faster for people to understand.

Highlight key information using descriptive headings. This allows people to quickly scan information and get a better idea of the structure and organisation of content.

Some won’t read supporting text, so make sure headings make sense when read out of context. This also helps screen reader users, as they often listen to a list of all headings on a page before skipping to the information they’re after.

UI design book - example of a large block of text
UI design book - example of a large block of text broken into smaller pieces
Typography

Ensure ideal line length

To improve readability, ensure text is 40 – 80 characters per line (including spaces). If lines are too long, it makes it harder for people to gauge where the line starts and ends.

If lines are too short, your eyes get stressed from having to travel back too often. A comfortable line length is especially important for long body text.

User interface design example: different lengths of text
Applying guidelines

A quick case study

Let’s quickly redesign an example interface using some practical guidelines from the book.

The following 2 designs are for the property details page of a short-term property rental app. The first one is the original design. The second is the result of applying some quick guidelines from the book.

Even without much UI design experience, you’ll probably notice that the original design feels messy, complicated, and difficult to use. This is because it contains many problematic design details that pose a risk to usability. Perhaps you can already spot a few? 

Original property details interface design with usability issues highlighted
Updated property details interface design with usability issues fixed

Minimise usability risks

How do you find these problematic design details? In a perfect world, you’d perform thorough usability testing on every little design detail, but that’s not realistic or economical.

Instead, you can quickly and easily minimise risks using tried and tested guidelines that are based on conventional best practices. This saves costly usability testing for higher risk design concepts that you’re less confident with.

Below, I’ve pointed out the problems with the original design and outlined the rationale (logical reasons) behind the updated design. You’ll find all of these guidelines, and hundreds more, in the book.

Problems with the original design

  1. Icon contrast is too low. UI elements should have a contrast ratio of at least 3:1 to help people with vision impairments see them. 
  2. The white space around the image adds unnecessary visual complexity, which can increase cognitive load.
  3. Text is inaccessible as the contrast ratio is less than 4.5:1.
  4. Colour usage lacks purpose. Blue is also used to indicate links, which makes the heading seem interactive. The typeface is also difficult to read due to its complexity. 
  5. Uppercase text can be difficult to read. The shape of words helps you recognise the word more quickly. Uppercase words all have the same rectangular shape. Also, pure black text against white can cause eye strain.
  6. It could be unclear to the colour blind that ‘reviews’ is a link, as it’s relying on colour alone as an indicator.
  7. Icon styles are inconsistent, as some are filled and others aren’t. Icons aren’t labelled, making their meaning unclear. The icon containers also have a similar visual style to the “book now” button, which makes them seem interactive, even though they’re not.
  8. The lack of space between groups of content makes the design look cluttered and harder to understand.
  9. Multiple issues combine to reduce the readability of the body text: centre alignment, short line height, low contrast, short x-height, and a thin font weight.
  10. Button contrast is too low, so people with low vision might not identify it as a button. This also breaks the visual hierarchy, as the primary action should be the most prominent element on the screen.
Updated property details interface design with usability fixes highlighted

Rationale behind the updated design

  1. A shadow on the icon and gradient overlay on the top third of the image gives the icon sufficient 3:1 contrast.
  2. Unnecessary visual complexity was removed by spanning the image from edge to edge, simplifying the design.
  3. The contrast ratio is increased to 4.5:1 to make the text accessible. You’ll learn more about accessibility requirements in the book.
  4. Blue is removed as the heading isn’t interactive. Instead, the darkest colour shade is used to make the heading prominent. The typeface is simplified to a sans serif to improve readability and make it neutral.
  5. Sentence case is used to improve readability and a lighter colour shade helps reduce eye strain and correct the visual hierarchy. Secondary text should be less prominent than headings.
  6. Colour and an underline are used to clearly indicate the link to people who are colour blind. Blue is used consistently to indicate interactive elements.
  7. Icons are outlined with 1.5pt stroke weight and rounded corners for consistency. They’re also labelled for clarity and accessibility. The blue colour and button styling is removed, so they’re not mistaken for being interactive.
  8. Increased spacing and borders help to clearly group content, simplifying it and making it easier to understand.
  9. To improve readability, body text is left aligned, line height is increased to 1.6, contrast is increased above 4.5:1, typeface is changed to one with a tall x-height, and font weight is increased to regular.
  10. The button contrast ratio is increased above 3:1, which also corrects the visual hierarchy. Blue is used consistently to indicate interactive elements.

That's a wrap

I hope this small case study has shown you how quick and easy it is to make informed design decisions based on logical guidelines. Using objective logic, rather than subjective opinion, makes it faster and easier to design intuitive, accessible, and beautiful interfaces.

The author

Hi, I'm Adham

I’m a product designer from sunny Sydney, Australia. I specialise in UI design and design systems. For nearly 2 decades, I’ve enjoyed working on products used by millions of people around the world. Check out my portfolio.

75,000+ followers

Adham Dannaway - UI designer
Qantas logo
Campaign Monitor logo
Australian Government logo
Westpac logo
Freelancer logo
NSW Government logo
Featured

Featured here & there

I’ve been lucky enough to have my work featured in books, magazines and websites around the world. 

Adham Dannaway in Smashing Book 2

Smashing Magazine’s popular second book

Adham Dannaway speaking at a design event

A global design event by General Assembly

Adham Dannaway featured in Web Designer Magazine

A flagship publication for designers globally

Testimonials

More kind words

My goal is that you’ll gain years of experience in a matter of hours. Here’s what some are saying.

Garron Engstrom - Product designer at Meta
Garron Engstrom
Product designer

“I’ve never found a single resource that I can share with people to help them improve their UI design skillset. That just changed.”

5/5
Jake Shelley - Engineer
Jake Shelley
Software engineer

Wow, this book is 🔥. Probably the most actionable design advice I’ve ever seen. A quick and easy read with lots of stunning examples.

5/5
Elliot Rylands - Product designer
Elliot Rylands
Product designer

“A must have for anyone of any level within UX, UI, product, & even engineering. An excellent resource of design principles that will be my point of reference from here onwards.”

5/5
David Kartuzinski
David Kartuzinski
Software developer

“A great reference that includes numerous examples, clear language, and actionable advice. I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking to improve their UI design skills.”

5/5
Mike Sanins
Freelance designer

“As a self-taught designer, I’m blown away by this book! It’s concise and well-written with lots of visuals, making professional concepts so easy to learn.”

5/5
Jacek Leoniec
Software engineer

“Adham doesn’t waste time and gets straight to business. This book is full of brilliant advice, backed by great visuals and a reason behind each piece of UI.”

5/5
Pricing

Buy the book

Video courses can cost thousands, making them inaccessible to many. A book format is a fraction of the price.

Free preview

Try it before you buy it

$0

20% off launch sale

Buy the book

Individual licence for 1 person

$99$79USD+ tax

Buying for your team?
View team pricing options

PayPal
ApplePay
GooglePay
Visa
Visa
Amex
Discover
Maestro
DinersClub

Frequently asked questions

If you have any other questions or feedback, please contact me and I’ll get back to you shortly. 

This book is best suited to those in the product design and development space with an interest in improving their UI design skills. You might know some of the basics, and may have dabbled in design, but still struggle to design an informed and professional interface.

While the book wasn’t created for experienced designers, some may find it useful. Especially if you design based on gut feeling and can’t explain why.

The book is best suited to:

  • Beginner/intermediate designers looking to quickly improve their UI designs.
  • User researchers who want to start designing interfaces.
  • Developers who no longer want to rely on a designer.
  • Product managers who want to better understand their products.

There are lots of different types of digital interfaces. This UI design book mostly focuses on web and mobile applications.

That being said, the design guidelines are universal and also apply to marketing websites, e-commerce websites, software applications, and more.

The focus of this book is user interface (UI) design, which is made up of visual and interaction design. UI design is a large part of user experience (UX) design. 

You’ll learn how to design the interface that people interact with when they use a digital product. The actual pixels on a screen that make up a website or app. What it looks like, how it works, and why it works that way.

User research is another key part of UX design, but isn’t covered in this book.

No, you won’t learn how to use design tools, like Figma or Sketch. You also won’t learn how to write code or develop websites and apps. You’ll learn universal and timeless guidelines that will help you design better interfaces, regardless of the tools you use.

No. The book only comes in digital PDF format for now. If you’re interested in a printed book, subscribe to be notified if one becomes available.

I’d recommend getting the digital PDF either way, as there are lots of detailed visual design examples in the book. A digital version allows you to zoom in to see the detail.

If a printed option becomes available, I’ll make sure that those who already have the digital version can also get a physical copy for a cheaper price.

  • Low price: Video courses on UI design can cost thousands of dollars, making them inaccessible to many. A book format is a fraction of the price.
  • Faster to learn: Video courses can take a long time to get through. I designed this book with efficiency in mind. It’s quick to scan with lots of visual examples. 
  • Quick reference: A book format makes it quicker and easier for you to refer back to the design guidelines regularly.

Please purchase a team licence if the book will be read by more than 1 person.

You can save up to 40% when you buy the book for your team. The discount depends on the number of people in your team and you’ll receive a single invoice.

If the team pricing options aren’t suitable, contact me and I’ll send you a discount code to share with your team.

Each team member can use the discount code to buy the book and receive their own invoice. Let me know how many team members you have, so I can send you the right amount of discount codes.

Yes. Becoming an affiliate is a quick and easy way to make money from referring people to buy Practical UI. You receive 20% of every sale you refer. There’s no limit.

  1. Create a free Gumroad account
  2. Apply to become an affiliate
  3. Once approved you can start sharing your unique affiliate link

Since team prices are already discounted, you’ll earn 10% for team referrals. Learn more about Gumroad’s affiliate program.

Yes. If you’re unhappy with your purchase please contact me within 30 days and I’ll refund you in full.

I spent thousands of hours creating Practical UI, so please let me know why it wasn’t a good fit for you. This will help me improve it.

To make sure the book is right for you, please carefully read this page and download the free preview before buying the book. Let me know if you have any questions.

Yes, you’ll be able to quickly generate an invoice from your Gumroad email receipt.

Payment is securely handled by Gumroad. They accept the majority of credit cards and PayPal. Payment options include: PayPal, Apple and Google Pay, Visa, Mastercard, AMEX, Discover, Maestro, and Diner’s Club.

Yes. Purchasing power parity helps make the book equally affordable across different countries. If you’re located in a country that qualifies, you’ll see a banner at the top of the website with a special discount code. Apply the code during checkout.