UX vs. UI design: How your business can benefit from both

Written by Chloee Kline

March 13, 2021

What is UX design?

A 2019 article from Adobe defines UX or user experience as “the experience a person has as they interact with a product”. There are several definitions of UX and it can be interpreted in a number of ways. This interpretation can vary based on the product or service you have. How you are even reading this post and the screen or device you choose to read it on can make your user experience different from another. Leah Buley is the author of The User Experience Team of One. Her book serves as a research guide to navigating through user experience.

Buley claims user experience is “a famously messy thing to describe”. Both the Adobe article and most of Buley’s book revolve around research. Conducting research and noting the experiences the user has within the website or app in question can define the role of the designer. Buley breaks down the field of user experience and what types of backgrounds are successful in the UX realm, this allows the designer to conduct studies and discover deep reasoning for what people do and why. 

User research is the first step to any successful UX design on all applications. Learning about your potential audience and what motivates them to interact with your interface ensures you meet the consumers’ needs. Personas are a great way to start this research process. Your team may choose to create fictional people and create stories on why they would be using your application. For example, your company is working to improve a website for a university. Think of the potential audience. You may have prospective students wanting to find majors and courses offered or even parents researching tuition fees and safety statistics.

Creating a definitive persona may help you discover new solutions to existing problems on the website, like writing down characteristics of a high school senior named Katie. Katie could be given a GPA, a list of extracurricular involvement, and an intended course of study. Your team can use personas, like Katie, to dive deeper into your application and how to make it better for the thousands of users who may have similar needs. 

What is UI design?

UI stands for user interface. According to Adobe, “A user interface is a place where interactions between humans and machines occur. It allows users to effectively operate a machine to complete a task or achieve a specific goal”. Leah Buley defines UI as “the screen through which a person interacts with a computer or device”. UI is the “techy” side of creating a website or application virtually. UI comes first, laying out the foundation of how your website is going to operate. Adobe’s article gives “essential properties” of well-designed UI as the following; clarity, familiarity, consistency, forgiveness and efficiency. Though UX and UI are related to an extent, UI design focuses more on visuals and how they are displayed. UX follows by the reports on how the user interacts with the design. A huge point to remember when differentiating between the two is, UI concentrates on the application being ‘aesthetically-pleasing’. UI is all about the look and feel. Designers have a lot of criteria to keep in mind. Adobe claims attention to detail is key while also relying on good problem-solving skills. UI designers must keep in mind the personas and solutions that UX designers may create. 

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Why does your business need designers?

Though your business may already have a website for potential customers, the world of technology is ever-changing. Updating your website as often as possible is a great communication tool to connect your customers to your business. UI designers come in handy as there may be a small error in your website’s design that could hamper your users. With proper research and problem-solving, these issues can be resolved.

Adobe provides an article on their website of the ‘4 Golden Rules of UI Design’. Creating an easy-to-navigate system is very important. Visual tools and predictability provide ease to your user allowing them to fully access your website. Accommodation is also key. 

Accessibility is often overlooked when designing websites. We presume all users will be able to access all functions of your website but in reality, some users may have visibility issues and the font size, type or color may be hard to see. There are many studies and articles about typography, or the style and appearance of printed matter. Typography also appears in a digital form. Designers have to consider little things like serif versus san-serif fonts to not only appeal to the style of the product but also to ensure their viewers can process the font type they’ve chosen. Potential accommodations to consider include new users of younger or older ages and individuals with such visual impairments. 

The language and tone on your website are a big reflection of your business. It is important to remember to avoid the use of slang or jargon, and acronyms that may be familiar to your employees but not outside of the business setting. This copy editing-like step can also be assessed by UX designers. 

For most things, consistency is key and that expression rings true in the UI design world. Adobe claims “Consistency is one of the strongest contributors to usability and learnability”. For example, if your website has multiple tabs or pages, the website theme should be present across all pages, in all aspects. This creates ease for the user as they become familiar with the flow and style of the page on the initial visit and exploration of your website’s homepage. When creating the site or diagnosing issues, designers may uncover other ways to better the navigation of your website.

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Design Methods 

For UX designers, design principles are the sole focus of their job. Speaking with the business can help designers obtain a look and feel and how the business wants to be portrayed by their communities.. Buley talks a lot about sketching in the design process. This is a very easy way to mock up ideas on how the website will look on a computer versus a phone screen. Sketches are supposed to be messy. Creating multiple sketch drafts allows the designer to evolve the ideas. The compilation of sketches can then be transferred to a sketchboard. Sketchboards allow designers to draw steps in the website navigation process, similar to a sketchboard filmmakers utilize.

Designers could illustrate the transitions of different pages on the website and address any issues that may arise in these beginning stages. Buley goes into further steps and compares paper and interactive prototypes for testing methods. Testing methods allow designers to take an almost finished product and watch users navigate through the website. Paper prototypes can be vital for users to give feedback on the look and feel of the website. In the beginning testing stages, it can be helpful to have users speak out loud and say what they are doing and what they are thinking. The user may quite literally say, “I’m going to click on X tab because I think that is where I can find X information…etc”. 

Buley’s book provides numerous testing methods and many designers rely on a few to ensure they have resolved any issue a user may run into.  Though the sketch/design process to the testing process may seem linear, many designers will go back and forth in these steps when they encourage an issue. Collaborating with other designers can brainstorm ideas to assure the website is overall ‘aesthetically pleasing’. 

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Evolution and future of UX design

The future of UX and UI design will continue to grow as technology advances daily. Mobile and app design seem to propel the industry as designers now have to worry about a computer-based interface and how the product will translate on a mobile device. App creation is gaining popularity. 

Jobs continue to create and advance for UX designers. Many businesses strive to create up-to-date websites for users and establish a modern web presence, this may include the app creation process or just seeing what pops up when they Google their business.

There are so many factors when it comes to the virtual success of your business, but it all starts with creating an easy and visually appealing website. UI and UX designers are the sole factor in making sure this happens. Once your website is established, it is vital that your business finds the application easy to update and maintain. Times will be forever changing as technology grows. Instituting your new website today will display your business’s modernization and set you up for future success. 

At Advanced XP, we have a team of numerous UX and UI designers equipped with the skills to create products and websites for your business. Our designers are dedicated to form meaningful relationships with our clients to bring your digital vision to life. We want to have a hand in growing your business and ensuring successful outreach. Browse our website more to see our services, team members and examples of the work we can do for your business. 

Resources

https://xd.adobe.com/ideas/process/ui-design/ui-vs-ux-design-understanding-similarities-and-differences/
https://xd.adobe.com/ideas/process/ui-design/4-golden-rules-ui-design/

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