UI design and UX design: in a tech world when it comes to design, these terms go hand in hand, but they are mean very different things. You can often hear people talking about a good UI of an app or a weak UX design of a website. So what do UX and UI stands for? Just some fancy terms cool designer kids are using? What is UI, what is UX in their essence and the difference between UI and UX. And more importantly, what’s in it for you and your business?
UX and UI are two areas of design that are often confused.
UX stands for ‘User Experience’ and UI meaning is ‘User Interface’.
The two terms have been widely used and overused and to an outsider may sound a bit intimidating.
‘User Experience’ goes back to the 90s when the term was coined by Donald Norman, Apple’s VP of the Advanced Technology Group at that time. In an email explaining how he came up with it, he wrote,
“I invented the term because I thought human interface and usability were too narrow. I wanted to cover all aspects of the person’s experience with the system including industrial design, graphics, the interface, the physical interaction, and the manual.”
Don argues that today the term is being horribly misused. When people say they do UX what they mean is they are designing apps and websites. But what is really UX? It’s not just about ‘pushing pixels’ and making things look pretty. It’s actually everything that has to do with your experience with a product or service. It doesn’t even have to be you using the product but simply telling someone else about it.
UX’s main concern is how the product or service feels. Whether it’s easy to use and what the overall experience with the product is like. It puts humans in the center to help them, to empower, to make their lives better and easier. And UX designers, when creating a product, speak on behalf of their users, who can’t be in the meeting room when the product is discussed. Designers act as their advocates. They take an issue and explore a way to resolve it in order to create a better interaction experience in the future.
The industry is constantly evolving but the main question remains the same – ‘How can I make this better for a user?’
The history of UI goes back to the 70s when there was none. Back then in order to use a computer, you had to know its programming language. In 1981 Xerox launched Xerox Star that included a graphical user interface (GUI). It contained icons, folders, mouse, e-mail and allowed its users to open, move and delete files and it changed everything for humans.
But while UX is finding the best solution to a customer problem, to make the whole experience more enjoyable and pleasing, UI is actually about how this experience feels, looks. UI designers are responsible for how the product is laid out, designing each page or screen the user will land on and interact with. They are making that useful interface that UX designer laid out look aesthetically pleasing.
UX is more about cognitive science and sociology while UI is more visual. The UI design is often associated with graphic design or even branding design or even front-end development. There’s no way to say which one is better or more important, UX or UI, the key factor is that it should be done by a professional.
The polemic about whether you should compare UX and UI design is still going on and some designers are radically against the term “UX vs UI”. This can be easily explained by the fact that the roles within both are being iterated constantly. Moreover, we should be talking about UX and UX opposite to UX vs UX as they both work together, and both are essential for the great end-product. Considering that UX stands for “user experience” and UI is “user interface” it’s clearly illogical to put them against each other as the user interface is a part of the overall user experience.
However, we can somehow differentiate these two. If to put it simply, UX design is more about how the experience with a product or service feels, when UI design is about how the product’s interface looks and functions. The UX is focused on defining and solving the specific problem, finding the user’s main pain-points. It is responsible for mapping a user’s journey and creating wireframes. At the same time, UI design is concerned about the visual side of the user’s journey and the details that make that journey possible. UI design has a huge influence on whether a design is inclusive and accessible.
Do you know what is the difference between good and bad UX?Good website design is subtle. A user looks at the product and knows what to do with it and there’s no need for manuals or additional signs.
And for a bad UX design, there’s a name – “Norman Doors”. We all came across one. That confusing door that you always seem to get wrong because there’s no way to tell whether you need to push or to pull. “Norman door” means that a design is telling you to do the opposite of what you should be doing. It gives the wrong signal to the user and needs a sign to correct that.
According to Norman, the main principles that form the basis of human-centered design are:
So, the next time you encounter a door you can’t get right, don’t worry, it’s not your fault, it’s bad design.
As far as business is concerned, how the product is doing when it comes to sales, marketing, and data gathering determines its value. And that’s when a good UX design comes in handy. It can draw customers, convince them to use your product, become loyal to your brand and even persuade them to buy the next versions of your product. Good UI means opportunity when it comes to business as well.
Good UX design means:
Every person that comes to your website is an opportunity for your business but you’ve got mere seconds to impress them. You’ve got about 8 seconds to grab your users’ attention with a catchy headline and compelling landing page. After 8 seconds the majority will leave.
By taking time to understand the exact needs of your customers and creating a good UX design at the initial stage of the development, you can save yourself some time and money throughout the whole project. In his book Software Engineering: A Practitioner’s Approach Robert Pressman makes a convincing case for UX by saying that every dollar you spend on design saves you $10 to $100 in the future.
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