UX & UI: How to get the best from both
UX and UI are integral to a clear and streamlined online experience for your customers. It’s also vital to optimise if you want to stand out from your competitors in a rapidly evolving, competitive online market.
You’ll often see UX and UI being generalised, or used interchangeably. But to do a good job of both of them, you need to be mindful of their intricacies and specialisms. Let’s take you through everything you need to know about UX and UI, so you’re fully prepared to take your site to the next level.
- What is UX?
- What is UI?
- What makes them different?
- How they work together
- Why are they so important for online sales?
UX stands for User Experience. This focuses on the overall experience that a user has with a website or app. The term refers to the user's emotions, perceptions and interactions as they use your site. In a very mechanical world of digital marketing, UX takes the time to consider how people FEEL about your site. So it’s more about emotion and the general vibe of a site, than any specific elements or features.
That said, UX has one clear goal in mind. Good UX involves creating a seamless and fluid journey for every user, that leaves them feeling positive about the experience interacting with your brand. This goes for whether they’re a first-time visitor or a returning customer - everyone matters in this experience.
UX relies on a strong understanding of your customers, their demographic and their requirements and preferences. What do they actually want when they head to your site? How can you best deliver that to them as they engage with your brand?
It covers a huge variety of user demographics and types, along with every possible interaction a user may have with your site. From signing up to a mailing list as a return customer, to navigating through the checkout process as a first-time visitor, everyone should be considered in UX.
UX walks the tightrope between features on your site that address the key desires and expectations of users, and the emotional impact of a seamless shopping and browsing experience.
UI stands for user interface. This refers to the visual and interactive elements on your site or app. This includes things like buttons, typography, colours, layout and icons. The aim with good UI is to make your site more accessible, aesthetically pleasing and easy for all visitors to use.
The focus in UI is on intuitive designed experiences that make perfect sense to all users, whilst being visually appealing and on brand. Think of it as the more detailed version of UX, taking the elements of strong UX and fine-tuning those little details here and there to elevate your site overall.
If UI has a goal, it is to do with creating a site that showcases your brand in a memorable and interactive way whilst being as efficient and easy to use as possible. The focus is on what users interact with, and the touchpoints they connect with along the way to making a purchase. UI considers the link between these elements; how exactly does the colour of a button or the page layout impact sales?
You want UI design on your site to be intuitive, as if the user knows your site like the back of their hand, the minute they first land on its homepage.
The key differences are best showcased in an overview of your website optimisation process, as the order in which you address UX and UI demonstrates a lot of their differences.
You’ll start off by looking at the UX of a site, in most cases. This will give you an overview of not only the desired style and “feel” of your site, but also a thorough understanding of your user demographics and their specific requirements and expectations. Build out a wireframe, then pass it to the UI team to implement those finer points of interactivity.
UX concentrates on the entire user experience of your site. It takes the users motivations and goals, emotions and satisfaction when using your site. When working on the UX of your site, you’ll look at customer demographics and persona types, wireframes and prototypes and user testing. You’re creating a blueprint on the user experience across your entire site, taking all personas into account along the way.
On the other hand, UI focuses on the look and feel of your interface. The visual elements take centre stage and interactivity becomes paramount. If you’re working on the UI of your website, you’ll be thinking about the visual style, typography, and interactive elements across the site. Taking the blueprints handed over by the UX team, you’ll look at the aesthetic, branding and design across the entire site, zoning in to specific interactive elements like the checkout process as you go.
Throughout the process described above, anyone working in UX is feeding back to the team in UI. Good UX is aided by good UI, and vice versa. These are two equally important, interdependent elements of any effective website. They do share a common goal of creating a better experience for users, but take very different approaches at the same time.
If you’ve done heaps of research into good UX strategy, that information can directly inform your UI design decisions. Anything you apply to your UI choices ultimately feeds into the overall experience for every user on your site, which in turn helps the UX of your brand online.
If you design your UI around insights from your work on the UX of your site, you’ll enhance the overall usability of your site, and provide a much more efficient, intuitive and positive experience for your customers.
Online sales are extremely competitive. It’s the little details that make all the difference. And it’s safe to say that a poor user experience or unintuitive UI on a website is often enough to deter first time users from ever making a sale on your site, trusting your brand enough to sign up to a mailing list, or simply want to return to your site when there are countless other options available to them.
Basically, whether you want increased brand awareness, more conversions or a stronger level of engagement online, your users need to have a good user experience, and that cannot happen without a great user interface.
Through optimising the journey a customer takes when they visit or return to your site, you can increase user satisfaction, build your brand’s reputation and customer loyalty to that brand, which ultimately results in more conversions.
At the end of the day, it’s all about quality of experience.
While they do appear to be very similar, there are some key differences in the focus of UX and UI that make them highly distinct from one another. UX priorities its focus on the function of your site, via extensive research into user personas. UI on the other hand, considers the aesthetics of your site, via all interactive elements and details across your site.
You cannot have one without the other and still have a highly engaging site. The best customer experiences are enhanced by both being taken into consideration, working simultaneously to curate the most memorable and positive experience for your customers.
In short; they are at their best, when you work with them together.
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