If you are reading this, I assume you are a budding designer or developer who wants to understand the basics of this field or you might be a tech enthusiast who wants to learn more about design. In any case, you will find this article useful and it will be worthwhile of your valuable time.
What is UX and UI?
Even though you most likely know the full forms, I’m still going to mention it to keep things complete.
UX stands for User Experience.
UI stands for User Interface.
Now the definitions,
The term UX, in its current form, was introduced by Don Norman of Nielsen Norman Group in 1990. His main takeaway was this:
“User Experience” encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products. It must be designed keeping the user in mind. ”
UI design stands for User Interface design. There is no such handy and clear definition of it, I’m afraid. Basically, the only consensus we’ve reached here is the definition at Wikipedia:
User interface design (UI) is the design of user interfaces for machines and software, such as computers […]. The goal of user interface design is to make the user’s interaction as simple and efficient as possible, in terms of accomplishing user goals.
Okay, so yeah, all that Greek and Latin was for the nerds. What we need is a deeper and more useful understanding of these terms, terms which look short and sweet, but as we all know – looks can be deceiving.
A Better Understanding
Before going into their applications in the virtual world, let’s take a real world example
Next time you’re in a car, pay closer attention to the button/switch that controls the hazard lights. Traditionally, in most cars, it’s the most central, best visible switch on the dashboard. The placement of that switch is a result of a UX decision. While the look itself is a UI decision.
Here’s what I mean; the moment when you actually need this switch, you’re probably in a high stress situation and the last thing you want is to wonder where that cursed switch is. It has to be visible immediately, and for that, it needs to be in the most central location possible.
That switch is good UX.
Now coming back. What was the last application you downloaded or the last website you visited? Now they have to be the ones you saw and used for the first time and not the ones you are familiar with. Are you still using that application because of its usefulness or did you delete it from your phone after using it for a few days? Did that website make you want to read more of its content or made you surf more for a better website which does the same job?
If a number of apps and websites do the same job, then what makes a few of them more popular than the rest? This is where the UI and UX come in.
Basically, The UI is the series of screens, pages, buttons, visual elements and icons that we use to interact with a device.
And the UX is how the application responds to our commands and gives results to our clicks and queries. It is how well the application functions and responds to the consumers’ needs.
It would now almost be obvious that for an application or website to succeed, it’s UI and UX should be designed keeping the user in mind and should work hand in hand.
Take Google for example, the most popular and one of the simplest UI’s to ever touch the internet. Google.com only has a logo, search bar, and two buttons. Very simplistic, very easy to use and figure out, very appealing to the eyes and the mind. With a simple string typed in, you’ll get every relevant page of the digitized internet with just a click. That’s where this UI becomes one of the heavyweights. Designed keeping the user in mind. Any person who knows how to read can do a Google search and receive desired results. And the UX? It provides what the user was looking for. And also related searches if the user does not exactly know what he wants. At the end of the day, it leaves the user satisfied.
Elements of UI and UX Design
Customer and Competitor Analysis
The crucial first step to any creative job is knowing your audience. UX designers collect and analyze data to figure out what their users want. They also look at what other companies are doing to determine which web design features are most effective at converting potential leads.
Wireframing and Prototyping
UX designers provide prototypes for UI designers to build upon. This process always involves a lot of testing and iterations.
Apart from the structure of an application, the performance of an application is also important when discussing user experience. Implementing strategies to improve the perceived performance, as well as actual performance, are both necessary. Otherwise, many users may not even be able to get to navigate through the application or website due to slow load times which leads to bounces.
The job of a UI designer is to take all of the market research and prototypes provided by UX designers to create attractive visual layouts that are responsive and guiding. The following tasks fall under the realm of UI design:
Guiding Users Through Visual Storytelling
Good UI understand how the human brain responds to visual cues. For example, how do you indicate to users that a graphic is a button they should click on rather than a random image? A UI designer’s job is to teach users how to use an app using as few words as possible. Like everything else in the development process, this step requires repeated prototyping and user testing.
Graphic and Animation Development
It should go without saying that UI designers need to be comfortable working with a range of animation and graphic design software. In addition to building graphical interfaces, UI designers also need to create logos and other marketing material.
Responsive Software Design
With the ever-expanding variety of mobile devices available, optimizing software for different screen sizes has become an art and science in itself. UI designers are at the forefront of the ongoing battle to make apps look their best on every device.
The Benefits of a Great Integration
Powerful user interfaces like Google.com can translate into more than just millions of page visits a day, it will translate into great user experience and in the long run more revenue, simply because you have a positive disposition about your user experience with the Google brand. So when they release new software like their own browser or their own smartphones, you’re more inclined to indulge and support those products and service just off the strength that you feel you can rely on them to give you great user experience. And this trust from your customers can turn you into the biggest and richest organization of this generation which can be profitable for years to come.
So is one of them more important than the other? If you’ve read the above paragraphs you already know the answer. But in case you’re unsure, remember this, something that looks great but is difficult to use is exemplary of great UI and poor UX. While something very usable that looks terrible is exemplary of great UX and poor UI.
So you see, they are both crucial, and while there are millions of examples of great products with one and not the other, imagine how much more successful they might have been when strong in both fields. Ending the post by quoting the man who revolutionized the tech industry and pioneered efficient and beautiful design his devices…
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works”