User Experience vs User Interface – Understand the Difference

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Mar 11, 2019

designial- UI vs UX

When it comes to designing applications, modern businesses that want to be competitive realize the need to provide exemplary user experience, while also regarding user experience as the ultimate factor for success.

However, it’s a common mistake to use User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) interchangeably.

User Interface (UI) includes visual elements such as fonts, colors, icons, etc. – the overall “look” of screens and pages that facilitate user interaction with an app.

On the other hand, we have User Experience (UX) – the “feel” that users have when they interact with a tech product, an android or iOS app, or a web application.

Let’s understand the differences between the two and what business owners must keep in mind when deciding between UX and UI help for their products, web, or mobile apps.

Don’t hire a UI designer for UX design

Often UI designers (also known as visual designers or graphic designers) are mistaken for UX designers. Product managers and business stakeholders often misconstrue aesthetically attractive UI design as the best UX solution to achieve their business goals.

Business owners hire UI designers in hopes of getting the best UX solution for their application or website only to find out later that they’ve on-boarded UI designers.

UI designers focus on the overall aesthetics, presentation of the application, website, or software product. While they may be able to come up with solutions to more straightforward business problems, but when it comes to complex business problems, they may stall.

The user interface is just one aspect of the more exceptional user experience. Several other factors go beyond the UI to contribute to an overall stellar UX – and that’s why it is essential to hire the right person to create a good UX.

Business owners need to focus on hiring bonafide UX Designers who can put the focus back on customers/users and solving business problems.

Here are a few more things to keep in mind:

UX designers consider all possible user touchpoints with the company to achieve business goals

The purpose of UX is to create relevant, efficient, and well-rounded experiences for users. UX design is the process of developing and improving the quality of interactions between users and the company.

UX designers ensure that users feel good when they interact with a product, service, or app, and efficiently accomplish their tasks.

For instance, when business is launching a new application, it’s UX designer’s job to ensure that it is easy to sign up/onboard new users quickly and in numbers that are meaningful for the initial growth of the business. If an existing application is losing users to the competition or otherwise, UX designers figure out the reasons based on the UX research and come up with a UX solution to retain users. And for businesses that experience stagnation and want to grow, UX designers can provide solutions to grow via experimentation based on user testing.

To achieve these aims, UX designers incorporate different UX research methods. They use research outcomes to map user journeys to understand pain points & motivations. They then design the user flows to address those pain points & motivations in a planned app or service. After that, UX designers work on interaction design consistent with target devices and test for usability with target users to make sure the proposed designs work for them and solve business problems. The UX solutions may include AI/ML, AR, VR, and voice recognition, to provide the best possible experience to customers and solve their problems.

They make sure that their proposed solution is portable from one channel to another like web app design can be adapted to iOS or Android apps. They also consider how the design can be adapted for different devices like smartwatches or have voice compatibility to be usable with Google, Cortana, Alexa, or Siri. Google recently unveiled ambient computing that enables its users to access services from any hardware that is in users’ proximity. It’s important to note that some of that hardware may not even have the graphical UI user interface.

Take the example of the IKEA place app that uses ARCore technology to virtually place IKEA products in a room to see what they look like when someone buys and puts the IKEA furniture in that room.

The app searches for and gives an accurate match of IKEA furniture using the visual search option that uses the camera of the mobile device. It provides a specific impression of furniture dimensions, design, and size as well as functionality to empower IKEA customers.

UI designer’s experience or expertise map fall short of designing an app or service that similarly facilitates users.

UX designers focus on the user journey

When comparing UX vs. UI design, consider the overall experience and feel as well as the conceptual facets of the design process. You’ll see that UI designers often fall short on this expectation because they can only focus on a product’s interface features and aesthetics.

The UX designer maps out the entire user journey to understand the user’s day to day life. Including customer’s interaction with online apps and offline tools, their motivations, pain points, their likes, and dislikes without the concerned product or service in the picture. They identify opportunities to create solutions that are in line with business goals and that of the user’s goals.

Think of it this way: UI is the vehicle that gets us to where we want to be, and UX is the feeling of pure bliss when we arrive at the destination.

UX designers consider what tasks users need to perform and complete, and how straightforward their overall experience should be.

For instance, a landing page on an eCommerce website like Amazon, describes the benefits and features of the product, while related and complementary products show as banner ads. The category pages don’t provide all the information about products, but only offers glimpses into what each product does.

UX designers know that users are still in the selection and consideration phases of the customer journey.

They consider how users discover a product, the sequence of actions they perform while interacting with the interface, what thoughts and feelings run through their heads, and the impressions they take away from the pages.

The UX design comes first in product development as it commands the UI design. The UX designer maps out the user journey, and the UI designer fills in visually pleasing interactive elements like ‘tap-able’ CTAs and right color combinations to achieve the optimal visual hierarchy.

UX designers research and test for usability

UX designers, along with UX researchers carry out rigorous research to find out how a specific product or app will be used by customers and users, to figure out the features and provide the best possible user experience to them.

In essence, UX design is a strategic process that creates products and services that customers love to use and easily understand. To ensure that products or services succeed, designers have to analyze business goals, create user personas, set up experience maps, and user flows, and test every aspect of the app.

Aesthetics alone can’t make an app successful because it doesn’t guarantee great usability – success in tech design isn’t solely about how the product looks.

The right UX design is about the feels and the works before the looks.

However, while UX helps map out the user journey and determine the right features on the app or product through testing and research, it wouldn’t be successful without proper UI.

The user interface of an app is part of the user experience; that’s why UX and UI designers should work hand in hand to provide the best experience to end customers and users.

In conclusion

Both UX and UI are essential for the success of a product.

They work hand in hand to create a quality experience for users. If you would like to know more about UX vs UI, call us for a free consultation.