Imagine using a computer without icons to click on. Before any Graphic User Interfaces (GUIs) existed, Command Line Interfaces (CLIs) were used to operate a computer. Even viewing your files in a folder required typing in multiple lines of commands, and there was only text on display. Without the internet, these things needed to be noted down and memorized.
Technically speaking, CLI is just a form of UI, but we have grown accustomed to the GUI we see today.
But a UI is the basics, and as Dain Miller said: “UI is the saddle, the stirrups, & the reins. UX is the feeling you get from being able to ride the horse.” The UX is not something we can see or quantify, but something we can definitely and definitively create as an experience.
Engaging Customers, Not Users
UX has been a thing of Web 2.0, after the likes of MySpace and awesome-looking websites built entirely on Html were left behind for a more minimalistic, uniform look across the board for most—if not all—websites.
Of course, it limited creativity but has since then made it viable to conduct business more professionally over the internet. This means websites have been given—and need to be given—the same curated importance and experience as physical stores as well.
And that is where UI/UX comes in.
UI/UX, And the Basics of IT
As more and smaller businesses or Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have gone online, websites have become increasingly easier to create, but also significantly more complex, perhaps even more so than before. Websites now have custom interfaces, plugins, integrations, and more.
So, if you want to build a website for yourself, great! Just know these UI/UX items and the basics of web design to be able to make the most of your UI/UX for engagement.
Some statistics tell us that almost a third quarter of online businesses are not built for usability, and are simply designed to be flashy and to follow the latest trend without understanding what works or why it works. Of course, there are a plethora of factors besides just UI/UX design that makes up a website, but they are a fundamental part of it that can often get ignored.
A huge part of this is the confusion behind what exactly UI/UX encapsulates. Some say it is part of the design. Others say it is part of the website development. We are here to clear it all up, so here goes.
- Web Development — A developer works in code, which is the backend of the website. This is the work done on the website that the customer or end user does not see, even if they get into the Html code with the Inspect Element function. Here, the website's performance, load times, optimization, and many more factors come into play
- Web Design — Web Design is not one thing. Just like a UI, it is an umbrella term consisting of many different categories and disciplines; all of which contribute to the creation of the website. While most say that UI/UX is part of web design, we will argue that it is both, because a website that looks good but loads poorly and is slow, significantly hampers the experience.
- The User Interface (UI) — The user interface refers to everything that a customer can interact with. If an end user ‘sees’ the website, they are looking at the UI. If they can click on something, it is part of the UI.
- The User Experience (UX) — The user experience is just that, the ‘experience’ for using the website. A user that first enters a website enters on the landing page, which is usually the home page. Designing the home page in a way that makes it easy for the user to understand the service, what is on offer, how to get there, and generally ease navigation across the website is all part of the UX. UX is harder to define since it is all about the experience. Some advanced tech users might find a particular website UI/UX ideal while regular customers might get confused. It is a hit-or-miss kind of deal that depends both on your target audience, as well as the quality of the UX.
The Critical Aspects of the UI/UX Design
Here is what makes the UI/UX design of a website engaging and effective.
Wireframing refers to designing a website in the most structural and bare-bones kind of way. It is like the blueprint of your website, and a designer works on it so that the developers and designers can be consulted to ensure that it is doable. After that, the logos, aesthetic elements, and development of the website are done. While wireframing is not strictly part of the UI/UX that the end-user deals with, it is still the first part where UI/UX design is considered.
Designed for Interaction
Interaction Design, or IDX, is what the design and development team utilizes to ensure that the website being developed provides meaningful interactions to the visitor. This design incorporates everything about the UI, from the font and sound to the aesthetic and colors of the website.
If the interactions on the website’s UI/UX are smooth then customer engagement can be smooth as well.
Utilizing the Online Vernacular
Defining the structure of your content and how your information is laid out is imperative for any website. However, there are certain aspects of a website and its information that are unofficially standardized by the online industry. Users expect a separate contact page with a contact form, information on the website on the About Us page, some legal information, etc. Having navigation pages on the top and bottom sections of a website is part of this vernacular and design literacy.
Being different here should be done in either a limited fashion, or with deliberation, and only if you really know what you are doing, because being easy to use and familiar is beneficial for engagement.
Visually Direct the Interactions
Visual design is all about, well, visual format. It is a part of the UI/UX that can be used to direct where the user goes effectively. As websites are designed, their visual design plays a huge role.
For example, an off-white background with black letters will not be as appealing unless that text has something opaque behind it to make it easier to read. Moreover, the navigation buttons are often visually striking, and the purchase or buy buttons ensure that the most important interactions are never hidden from the end user.
As User-Friendly As You Can Get
User-friendliness does not necessarily drive engagement but is highly effective if used in conjunction with everything else. The better the design, performance, familiarity, and ease of use, the more likely you get recurring customers and regular engagements.
Here Is Why UI/UX Design is So Important
Okay. We have talked about how it comes through in the creation process and the ‘what’. Now let’s talk about the Why and the How.
User Engagement and Interaction
It is already mentioned in the creation process, but the fundamental necessity of user engagement is reasonably necessary and a key factor of UI/UX design. Navigating the web page is the essential bit when the website works as it should, and effective navigation is when things are done right.
As users engage with the website more, it incentivizes them to stay, creating more traffic and sales.
It Is Essential for Brand Recognition and Brand Development
If your website is easy to use and users spend more and more time on it, it becomes a brand on its own. People have gravitated towards familiarity, and if the customer experience is both great and familiar, as we talked about before, users create a brand community as well.
Focusing on UI/UX design for your website is not just essential but could provide benefits that you might not consider otherwise.
A Good Experience Does Not Need to be ‘Updated’
Here is where the If it works, don’t fix it’ approach is necessary. Just because you can change your website’s look now and then does not mean you should. However, that leads to you spending less time on the development and design of your website and saving on the money you might have paid to do so.
Because customers like the design so much, businesses online are discouraged from changing it. Effective UI/UX design keeps the familiarity and themes even when things are changed, so it does not mean you absolutely should not change at all.
What Is More Important?
The truth is that UI and UX are two very different things. To compare them in terms of importance would be ignorant at best, as UI is a fundamental level of function for any website, and UX is something that has no ‘final’ version and is continuously being improved upon.
Both of them hold plenty of importance in creating websites, and both navigation and ease-of-use matter.
In that sense, neither is more or less important than the other. They both serve different functions and are two parts of a greater whole.
Does UI/UX Design Impact Business Growth?
UI/UX can be the equivalent of having something serviceable to something that becomes a unique selling point for you.
Creating a website does not just mean fulfilling a checklist. You need engagements, word of mouth, new customers, recurring customers, and an overall positive user experience. Just because you have products and services on display does not mean a custom will be driven to buy them.
Post-purchase behavior and customer satisfaction are rarely considered for some businesses that do not have that personal touch. However, it also does not create loyal customers who would instead shop at your smaller store than some big chain online e-retailer store that sells cheaper items. Customers value experience and trustworthiness. They will pay a higher fee if they know what will be something good. Since the UI/UX is your way of communicating with the customer indirectly, it becomes a critical component for business growth.
The UI/UX is the foundation for any website and its efficacy. Sure, you want the basic functionalities and call it a day, but to truly grow a brand and a business that customers value beyond what it sells, you need to engage with your audience and allow your audience to engage with what you offer.
UI/UX can impact the purchasing and post-purchase experience and the design choices you implement for engagement. The role UI/UX plays in the creation and subsequent continuous improvement of a website only increases in importance the more you grow at scale.