If you work in marketing, or in the design field, you’ve probably at least heard of UX and UI. But you may not be entirely sure what they actually mean, or what the difference is between the two. To help you get started, we’ve explored this topic in more detail below!
What is UX?
UX stands for User Experience, and is exactly what it sounds like. When people talk about UX, they are trying to get an understanding of how consumers feel, and the impressions they get when interacting with your business. Hopefully, these feelings will be positive, but they could also be negative or neutral.
According to a survey conducted by Bynder, when it comes to differentiating between brands, user experience is the strongest way of setting your company apart. In fact, UX trumped both product innovation and brand authenticity in this survey, which may come as a surprise to some businesses. These results would suggest that user experience is something that organisations should focus more resources on.
When it comes to improving your UX, there are few things that you can consider in terms of what influences how your customers perceive your brand. We’ve listed a few examples below:
- How someone discovers your brand – what journey have they taken to get there?
- The time it takes a user to find the answer they’re looking for
- What sort of feelings a user gets throughout their journey
- How valuable or useful someone deems their interaction with your brand to be
- How someone would rate the overall experience of interacting with your business
It goes without saying that you want your users to have a positive user experience when they engage with your brand. The reason for this is simple – you want their journey to be as smooth and rewarding as possible, making it easy for someone to do business with you. Not only this, but if a user has a great experience, they are more likely to become a repeat customer, and may even become a brand advocate. The opposite is also true – when people have bad interactions with a company, they tend to leave negative reviews, and do business elsewhere.
You may be less familiar with UI, which stands for User Interface. This is a collective term for all the things that allow people to interact with your business online. So that could include your webpages, icons and buttons, as well as media such as videos and podcasts. People will come across your company through a range of different channels, so it’s important to ensure that no matter how they find your brand, every individual has a positive experience along the way.
It’s easy to assume that the best way to create a brilliant UI is to use the most cutting edge technology. And while this can work to an extent, especially if this technology makes every process smoother, you also need to consider your whole audience. The best user interface will work perfectly for everyone, regardless of their demographics or technical expertise. Accessibility is vital when designing your UI – for instance, would someone with hearing loss be able to get the information they need from your videos, or should you add subtitles?
The thing to remember with user interfaces is that if designed correctly, the user won’t even be aware of much of it. But if done poorly, people will soon notice, and may not come back to your business moving forward. UI can therefore be just as important to focus on as UX.
When it comes to explaining the difference between UX and UI, a good analogy involves food. Picture yourself in a restaurant, where you’ve just been served a pizza. The pizza you ordered included cheese, peppers and mushrooms. What comes out is a cold pizza, with no toppings, and no implement with which to cut it. All of these factors represent a bad user interface, which result in a bad user experience. And some parts of the user experience can’t even be measured – the flavour of the food wasn’t factored in, as you were so off put by the way it was served.
User experience can also be subjective. If we use the example above, if you’re not a fan of pizza, your user experience would be ruined regardless of how the pizza tasted or looked. Unfortunately there’s not a lot that designers can do in these instances – if someone isn’t at all interested in your product, they won’t be able to market to them.
Perhaps the most important thing to bear in mind when it comes to UX and UI is that you can’t have a great user experience if you have a weak user interface. So designers will need to work closely together to ensure that both of these elements are being addressed.
If you’re looking to create a website, or redesign your current one, there are a few things you should think about in terms of UX and UI. With the former, considerations may include:
- Any user problems that can be addressed
- Looking at things users should be able to do
- Making sure that the customer journey follows a logical flow
- Ensuring that every product accurately reflects the brand
- Ensuring that all devices and systems support the site
- How easy to access things are
- Making it obvious which information on your site is the most relevant
- Designing every element of the site consistently and on brand
Overall, you need to be constantly aware of your UX and UI. User experience is broader, as the focus is on what the customer is looking for, and ensuring that the product or service delivers on expectations. But without a successful interface, people aren’t likely to even browse the products you have on offer.