User experience (UX) design is the process of creating products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. This involves the design of the entire process of acquiring and integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability, and function.
User experience (UX) focuses on having a deep understanding of users, what they need, what they value, their abilities, and also their limitations. It also takes into account the business goals and objectives of the group managing the project. UX best practices promote improving the quality of the user's interaction with and perceptions of the product and any related services.
User interface (UI) design is the process of making interfaces in software or computerized devices with a focus on looks or style. Designers aim to create designs users will find easy to use and pleasurable. UI design typically refers to graphical user interfaces but also includes others, such as voice-controlled ones.
User Experience in the IT Industry
In the IT industry, software developers and web designers will sometimes talk about user experience using these related terms:
- User-Centered Design
- Graphical User Interface (GUI)
Peter Morville represents this through his User Experience Honeycomb.
He notes that in order for there to be a meaningful and valuable user experience, information must be:
- Useful: Your content should be original and fulfill a need
- Usable: Site must be easy to use
- Desirable: Image, identity, brand, and other design elements are used to evoke emotion and appreciation
- Findable: Content needs to be navigable and locatable onsite and offsite
- Accessible: Content needs to be accessible to people with disabilities
- Credible: Users must trust and believe what you tell them.
The difference between UX and UI design
The three primary differences between UX and UI designers are:
- UX deals with the purpose and functionality of the product. UI deals with the quality of the interaction that the end-user has with the product.
- UI design has an artistic component as it relates to the design and interface with the product. It affects what the end-user sees, hears, and feels. UX has more of a social component for market research and communicating with clients to understand what their needs are.
- UX focuses on project management and analysis through the entire phase of ideation, development, and delivery. UI has more of a technical component to produce the design components for the finished product.
UX Designer Key Responsibilities
- Content/Strategy: Customer Analysis, Competitor Analysis, Product Structure/Strategy
- Prototyping and Wireframing: Prototyping, Testing/Iteration, Development, Planning, Wireframing
- Analytics and Execution: Coordination with Developer(s), Coordination with UI Designer(s), Analysis and Iteration, Tracking Goals and Integration
UI Designer Key Responsibilities
- Look and Feel: Branding and Graphic Development, User Guides/Storyline, Customer Analysis, Design Research
- Responsiveness and Interactivity: Adaptation to All Device Screen Sizes, Interactivity and Animation, Implementation with Developer, UI Prototyping, Implementation with Developer
UX and UI are not areas to skimp on. Regardless of the definitions and division of labour, they are both essential parts of product development and delivery. Research shows that customer experience drives revenue growth. UX and UI are an investment in the product or service.