Nevertheless, the two terms cannot be used interchangeably, especially since one encompasses the other.
Namely, user interface design (UI) is a part of user experience design (UX). And both are equally important when it comes to product design. So, to create a marketable and easy to use products, one must work on UX as well as UI. Now let’s dive a bit deeper into the muddy waters of user experience and user interface design.
UX design is an approach to design that considers all of the aspects of a service or product with the user in mind. These include function, beauty, accessibility and usability of a product or service. It also includes emotion and delight, which are not entirely easy to engineer.
This is why UX encompasses all of the things that make the entirety of a user experience the best it can be. Product managers, user researchers, information architects, content strategists and interaction designers all work together toward creating exceptional user experiences.
Now, let’s talk about UI.
Understanding UI Design
Fundamentally, user interface design is concerned with the visual elements of an experience or a product. This incorporates the design of text, images, buttons, icons, screens, and all other visual experiences a user will perceive and interact with. Although it sounds straightforward, companies approach UI design in different ways, but with the same goal in mind.
According to a Wikipedia article, the end goal of UI design is making the user’s interaction with a product or service as simple and efficient as possible. UI designers use the principles of user-cantered design to make it easy for a user to accomplish their goals.
Basically, it is all about making the interaction with a product as seamless as possible. To get a better understanding of user interface design, let’s hear it from the experts.
Ken Norton, partner at Google Ventures and ex-product manager at Google explains user interface design in a rather simple way. According to Ken, UI design is cantered around a product’s surface, i.e. how the product looks like and the way it functions. He also states that UI is only a part of a user’s journey.
Since technology is evolving at an extremely rapid pace, we need to think about the broadening of the user interface. According Leah Kaufman, Senior UX Research Manager at Lenovo, keyboards and mice are no longer the default ways of interacting with an interface.
We use phones to swipe and tap, while Kinect and Alexa recognize our gestures, postures, and movement. Machine learning has brought new advancements as well, with AI systems tracking our behaviour and reacting accordingly.
UX vs. UI Design in Web Development
Now that we have (I hope successfully) differentiated UX from UI design, let’s look at how they can be applied to the most popular piece of technology today – a website.
Peter Molville, a Fortune 500 user experience advisor has compiled the following seven factors that influence the user experience of your website or product.
According to Peter, to have a good user experience, your website should be:
- Useful – The website needs to benefit its users. If your website doesn’t satisfy this condition, you are paving the way for your competitors to overtake them. Fill your site with useful features and content.
- Usable – The users of your website must be able to navigate it without any difficulties, distractions, or problems. Improve your design with large click areas, intuitive click spaces, etc.
- Findable – This means your website needs to be easily crawlable by search engines. It is closely related to SEO and good UX ensures you will appear in front of your users in the SERPs. Your products and content need to be easily findable; headlines have to stand out and you need easy navigation and easy to spot landing and service pages.
- Credible – You should instil trust in your users. You can achieve this through testimonials, certificates, images of your team, industry recognition badges etc.
- Desirable – Think Apple. They do a great job of being more desirable than other brands.
- Accessible – Your site needs to be easily accessible by all types of users. Therefore, users with disabilities also need to be able to access and use your website.
- Valuable – To design a good user experience, you need to provide users with value. When a user lands on your website, they expect the value to be immediately visible. This is how you will convert users to loyal customers.
Web UI Best Practices
Without an exceptional user interface, chances are your website budget is going to waste. Your UI design must be clean, intuitive and efficient while not distracting the user from using the site. WordPress uses its backend as the UI, which is why developers and designers must be able to create a functional dashboard with a proficient and highly operative UI.
To be able to do this, professionals must keep learning and to stay updated with all the WordPress best practices, important plugins, efficient themes etc. There are educational websites that help you with issues around WordPress and keep you in the loop when it comes to the latest in web design and development.
But what constitutes an intuitive and interactive user interface? A good UI needs to be:
- Intuitive – The website must be easy to use. Users expect websites and apps to work in a rational way.
- Consistent – The behaviour and design should be consistent across the entire site.
- Responsive – The layout and the design of the website should be flexible and functional enough to work smoothly across various types of devices.
- Clean – The design should be simple and well organized.
- Familiar – Changes in the design shouldn’t surprise or confuse the user.
- Efficient – This is essential, especially if your site or web app requires users to interact with it for extended periods of time.
- Elegant – The design and layout need to be aesthetically pleasing.
- Content-focused – Text and visuals are powerful ways to add value to your UI design, which in turn enhances the user experience.
UX vs UI Design: Huge Difference but Equal Importance
User experience design encompasses user interface design, but when it comes to UI vs. UX design this doesn’t mean that UI is less important. The fact is, a poorly designed UI can drastically affect the UX of your web application or product. The user interface is the very surface of your product and if not executed correctly, it could deter users and make them seek help from your competitors. Therefore, it is wise to make sound investments in favourable UX and UI design.
Learn about and understand the difference between user experience and user interface design. This will help you immensely in discerning what you should do to achieve success in your endeavours.
Your website is the most important point of interaction with clients, so make sure to design it properly. Learn about UX and UI best practices and only hire designers and developers that are actively learning and staying on top of the contemporary design trends.
A common mistake is not including an easy to find “Contact us” page. Having clearly displayed CTAs and sections for contact (whether it be a form, a chat bot, etc) shows you are very easily approachable. Contact Stich Creative if you’d like to find out more.