Last month, I talked to you about the term user experience (UX) and why it was important to your business goals.
User experience is the practice of fulfilling a user’s need. When we apply UX principles to a project, we’re trying to make the digital experience easier–and in turn drive business success by satisfying our customers.
But how do we do this? User interface (UI) is the design principle that goes hand-in-hand with UX. Simply put, a great digital experience starts with UX and is followed by UI design. These terms are often confused, so it’s important to understand how they relate and differ.
The Importance of User Interface: Understanding UI and UX
UI design is the practice of human and computer interaction. UI designers work to make the interfaces we use every day–apps, websites, software, and more–easy to manage and understand.
Successful UI relies on clean and simple design that helps users easily complete tasks. Designer and podcaster Jason Ogle sums up the definition UI succinctly.
“UI is the bridge that gets us where we want to go. UX is the feeling we get when we arrive,” Ogle said.
Still, it’s common for folks to confuse UI and UX and even use the terms interchangeably. Think of it this way: User experience is a field that involves research, testing, and deep strategy. UI, meanwhile, is a field within UX that focuses on making technology easy to use and aesthetically pleasing.
Why Is UI Important?
Let’s use the same example I referenced in my article on UX. Think of a house. UX is the finished product, but UI is the blueprint that shows the electrical system, the slim cabinet drawers that fit your cookie sheets, the pocket door for your bathroom.
All these items make you love your house. It’s the little touches that provide comfort in your home, and it’s the little pieces of UI that bring UX to life. Website design (and simplistic user experiences) are a great way of showcasing your company culture and fostering brand loyalty.
An Example of UI in Action
When we work on a project, we always start in discovery. This is the process in which we can identify goals for both the client and the user.
We create user stories to break down each specific person that could come to a website and what their objectives may be.
Jane Smith might want to know the reviews of a particular product. Mary Sue, one the other hand, wants to know what the dimensions of the product are. We must create a user interface that showcases both pieces of information for these users.
Find more information on why good visuals matter.
Thinking About UI for Your Website
Think of the main navigation of your website. Do all the major links/anchor text clearly convey what a user is trying to find?
Contrary to what you may believe, this doesn’t always mean listing all your services. Your visitor may want to see a client list, portfolio, or even your CV. Every business and every user is different. UX is critical because it lets us spend time upfront to identify the needs of your users.
You’re in the thick of your business day in and day out. Sometimes bringing in an outside party helps you break through barriers and see your customers from a fresh angle.
UI for Small Businesses
UI (and its counterpart UX) are ever increasingly complex fields. You can take the first step towards improving your overall website experience by consulting with a team of digital professionals that specialize in these fields.
After your initial meeting, your UX and UI team will work to conduct an audit of your web properties, assess your business goals, and understand the needs of both your business and its clients. Finally, you will meet to outline a roadmap to your site’s enhancements and/or redesign.
We’d love to help you out with both, but don’t try to skip steps. The health and growth of your business depends on it.