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Techniques for polishing user interfaces

Designing a user interface generally involves a few different layers. The first is layout, and you can figure this out using just wireframes.

The next layer tends to add life and meaning to the design, and includes text, typography to style that text, images, icons, and colour. Let's call this "contents", for our purposes.

Finally comes what I like to call "polish", because there isn't a widely used name for it. I wish there was. It includes the various techniques I'm going to list here. Polish adds the final touches or flair to an interface.

If you want to learn about the purely visual side of design, you can find lots of books and resources about the layout and the contents. What you can't find is many books or resources about that last part - the polish.

If I come across something that I can't easily learn about, I become obsessed with it. Eventually that obsession turned into an attempt to catalogue the techniques you can use to add this "polish" to a user interface. That's what I'm going to list now.

Side note: This doesn't include animation or movement. That's an important part of adding the finishing touches to an interface, but I'm focusing just on the static touches a designer can add.

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