What is UI and UX Design
What is UI Design? What is UX Design?
UI design and UX design make the most often conflated and confused terms in web and app design. And understandably so. They are usually used together in a single term, UI/UX design, and seen from the surface; they appear to be describing the same thing. It is often hard to find reliable descriptions of the two that do not descend too far into jargon.
By the time this article, you will have a good understanding of what differentiates them and how they relate to each other. So let’s dive in!
A Brief History of the User Interface
Back in the 1970s and 1980s era, if you have to use a computer. You had to work with the command-line interface. The graphical interfaces used today did not yet exist commercially. For a computer to work, users require to communicate through a programming language. Needing seemingly infinite lines of code to finish a simple task.
In the 1980s, the first graphical user interface (GUI) got birth by computer scientists at Xerox PARC. With this astonishing innovation. Users could then interact with their personal computers by visually submitting commands through icons, menus, buttons, and checkboxes.
This shift in technology meant that everyone could use a computer, no coding needed, and the personal computer revolution started.
In 1984 Apple Computer introduced the Macintosh personal computer, which consisted of a point and click mouse. The Macintosh was finally the first commercially successful home computer to utilize this kind of interface.
The prevalence and accessibility of personal—and office—computers meant that interfaces required to design interfaces with users in mind. If users could not interact with their computers, they would not sell. As a result, the UI design took birth.
The UI designer’s role has transformed as systems, preferences, expectations, and accessibility has demanded more from devices. Now UI designers work not just on computer interfaces but also mobile phones. It also got implemented in augmented and virtual reality, and even “invisible” or screenless interfaces (also referred to as zero UI) like voice, gesture, and light.
Today’s UI designer has nearly limitless opportunities to work on sites, wearable technology, mobile apps, and smart home devices. As long as computers continue to be an integral part of daily life, there will be the need to make the interfaces. These interfaces enable users of all ages, backgrounds, and technical experience can effectively use.
What is UI Design?
The “UI” in UI design stands for the “user interface.” The user interface is known as the graphical layout of any application. It comprises of the buttons users click on, the text they read, the images, text entry fields, sliders, and all the other items the user interacts with. It includes screen layout, transitions, interface animations, and every single micro-interaction. Any kind of visual component, interaction, or animation must all get designed.
This job falls to the UI designers. UI designers often decide what the application is going to appear. They have to opt for the color schemes and button shapes — the width of lines and the fonts used for text. UI designers create the appeal and feel of an app’s user interface.
UI designers are graphic designers. They are concerned with aesthetics. It is up to him to make sure that the application’s interface is visually-stimulating, attractive, and themed appropriately to match the personality and purpose of the application. And they require to make sure that each visual component feels united, both aesthetically and in purpose.
What is UX Design?
“UX” is also called the “user experience.” A user’s experience of the application is determined by how they interact with the app. Is the experience intuitive and smooth or clunky and confusing? Does navigating the use feels logical, or does it feel arbitrary? Does interacting with the use give people the sense that they are efficiently accomplishing the tasks that they set out to achieve, or does it feel like a struggle? User experience can be determined by how easy or hard it is to interact with the user interface components that the UI designers have built.
So UX designers also work with an application’s user interface, and this is why people get confused about the difference. UI designers are the ones that decide how the user interface will appear. UX designers are the ones who determine how the user interface operates.
They also determine the structure of the interface and its functionality. How it is organized and how all the elements relate to one another. In short, they design how the interface will work. If it works all well and feels seamless, the user will have a pleasant experience. But if navigation is complex or unintuitive, then lousy user experience is likely. UX designers work to evade the second scenario.
Designing in a vacuum often leads to less than ideal results.
There is also a specific amount of iterative analysis involved in the UX design. UX designers will build wireframe rendering of their interface interactions and get user feedback. They will integrate this into their designs. UX designers need to have a holistic understanding of how users prefer to interact with their applications.
Tips for Learning UI/UX Design
We are not some unicorn creatures that were meant to be designers and were just born artistic like that. Design is about solving problems. It is a process of continually finding problems and creating solutions for them.
There are a bunch of areas of design: UI, UX, graphic designers, product designers, interaction designers, information architects, and the list goes on. Initiate by figuring out which specialty interests you more.
Familiarize Yourself with UI Principles
Before practicing the design, the first thing you need to do is to learn some design principles. From this, you will be able to enter the design world and begin thinking “creatively.” You will also learn the psychological side of the design: why it can look good and why it can fail.
Here are some basic things that a UI designer should know:
Color vocabulary, the fundamentals, and the psychology of colors.
Symmetry and asymmetry.
Use contrast to organize information, build a hierarchy, and build focus.
Opt fonts and create readable text on the web.
The essential principle, creating intuitive and usable designs, starts here.
Learn the Creative UX Process.
The next thing to understand is the creative UX process. UI/UX design is a process of certain phases that all the creative people go through.
The Creative Process
It divides into four distinct phases — Discover, Define, Develop, and Deliver — the Double Diamond is an easy visual map of the design phase.
It is the beginning of the project. Designers begin researching, getting inspired, and gathering different ideas.
It is the definition stage of the process. Here designers define an idea or ideas extracted from the Discover phase. From this, a clear creative brief gets created.
It is the part where solutions or concepts are created, prototyped, tested, and iterated. This process of trial and error helps out designers to further enhance and refine their ideas.
The final part is the delivery stage, where the final project is finalized, produced, and finally launched.
Designers often try to fill a logo full of meaning from the outset. However, this is not needed – the focus should be on identification. Any purpose or association will come with time through the interaction with the logo.
A new logo is like an empty vessel, and from day one, it merely has no meaning to onlookers. Even if it got added intentionally, with time meaning will be combined through ongoing marketing and the interactions your customers have with the company's brand.
Develop your Eye for Design
Knowing design principles is excellent, but sometimes it is not enough, you should also train your eye to see good designs and bad designs. With a sharp eye, you can also identify strengths and weaknesses in the designs.
The most impactful way to train your eye for design is through inspiration. Before taking out a blank canvas and staring at it, know that the only way to be creative is through research. Sometimes you can not create ideas on its own; you have to first look at other designs to begin creating your own, especially when you are a newbie.
Browse Portfolio Websites
Just look at what other designers are doing on Dribble. Whenever you come across creative designs or something relevant to your project, save it in your notes. Mention what you like about it, and you can also take screenshots. This way, you will have a massive collection of inspirational designs for you can use to start.
Read Design Articles Every Day
To make ourselves get familiar with designs, the best way is to read a couple of articles every day
Make reading design news and blog a habit. There are billions of articles available online to help us discover new trends, cases, and tutorials. There is nothing better than learning from another person’s experiences.
Make Reading Articles an Everyday Habit
Begin your day with a nice cup of coffee and some inspirational articles on Medium or Smashing Magazine. Learn new things in the morning. It will broaden your mind and will make room for more creativity during the day time.
Moreover, now and then during your day, take a few breaks to read some more. Taking breaks is essential for creativity, especially when you get stuck and start to feel unproductive. Bookmark the site you like as your browser homepage or subscribe to the design newsletter
Design Fake Projects
Practice makes a man perfect. And we all know we can not get customers/jobs without experience. But without a job or projects, we can not practice, right?
But we can break the chain by practicing on our own, by creating fake projects for fun.
Take out time to pick a site or app you already use and redesign it. It could be anything that you think can be better. You can also design your application idea.
From this, you will build your design portfolio, and you will practice design.
Learn the Latest Web Design Tools
There are tons of design tools available, but you do not need to know all of them. Learn about the best ones out there. Choose your favorite ones and stay updated with the newest features and trends.
Mentor and Get Mentored
Another excellent method to learn design is to find a design mentor or designer friend who is willing to help you. They will also help you to speed up the learning process.
The designer will also review your work and give their comments on it whenever possible. It is like a shortcut. They will also show you some tips and tricks they learned from their past experience. Go ahead and email a designer, ask them questions, and discuss your concerns.
When you are ready to start talking about design with different people, you can mentor or educate someone about design. You will begin to see it from a different perspective, and you will get feedback and questions that you may have never thought about.
Whenever you are talking about design with other people, your mind would be in “brainstorm” mode all the time. You will find yourself getting more interested in design.
Advantages of the Graphical User Interface
Easiness for Non-technical People
For non-technical people or beginners, good GUIs tend to create easiness in life. For example, with few clicks on the buttons, the user can quickly get his work done—the software in shops for the calculation of products sold. An even non-technical guy can easily manage your inventory. Similarly, listening to songs in their car is very easy for anyone.
Drag and Drop Feature
In most of the software, we have a drag and drop functionality by which complicated tasks are managed efficiently, like dragging and dropping the folders. And in mobile games, it is also great to use. In a lot of graphical software, drag and drop are amazing.
Looks Nicer than Text Interface
In the text interface, we have limited options to opt from, and navigation is hard. For non-educated people, text interface is hard to understand and use. In GUI, users can utilize any tool by detecting the symbols or buttons.
Sometimes we need a couple of functionality performed by a single click; this is when we use hotkeys. Like we see a few buttons or mouse clicks/movements by which a few actions performed. It is indeed convenient for speeding up your tasks.
It is easy for any user to navigate to the system without knowing too many details. Easy to set up and ready to begin working are fantastic. Most of the software hides the complication of actions from the users and display only needed information is key to a functional interface.
In modern science, we can detect eye movement and finger movement, which is helpful for disabled people. Now, most of the software uses this function to make life easier for disabled people. They can use the software and websites easily with a few simple actions.
Disadvantages of a Graphical User Interface
Difficult to Develop and High Cost
Lovely looking designs are hard to make and might also cost extra hardware support. Like high-quality games consume too much of the device space and memory. It also requires very skilled people to develop.
Slower than Command-line Tools
In command-line tools such as MS dos, we can perform some commands which do the work quickly. But if we do a similar task in the GUI, then it will take extra time to complete the job.
Extra Attention Required
When we are driving a car and controlling music/radio in the vehicle requires attention, which makes our driving disturbed.
Using a Flat-screen
A few graphical things do not display accurately on the flat screens. In airplanes, they use sticks to control most of the stuff because a flat-screen display is not very handy. It makes the final limitation of the GUI.
It requires a lot of time to develop and design an excellent looking interface. If some lousy interface builds, then it makes it difficult for the user to understand and use it.
We see many good GUI’s consuming a lot of memory resources, which make the system/device slow when it comes to performance.
Testing and implementation require a lot of time. Like we might need extra software for running GUI’s.
Significant Reasons to Invest in UX Design
Creating a digital presence on the web or within a mobile application is essential for an organization of any type. Companies highly rely on attractive interfaces, engaging content, and well-crafted marketing strategies to promote their web and mobile applications. However, people sometimes forget that fancy animation, mesmerizing content, and a great UX (User Experience) design backed by catchy ads. Furthermore, excellent UX design makes an application easy and pleasant to use and, as a result, enhances customer satisfaction.
The term “UX” has been circulating for quite a while now. Questions such as “Why is user experience important?” and “Why is UX design important?” still pop up all the time during the application design process.
UX Design Cuts Down Development Cost
What if we told you that efficient UX design lets you stay within budget or even cut costs of development? To understand how we need to take a closer look at the different stages of the UX design.
Great UX design is the result of comprehensive user research, information architecture design, prototyping, wireframing, user testing, and the final implementation. UX designers often spend hours redesigning and polishing an application to meet the needs and demands of end-users.
We will not describe all then b stages mentioned above in detail. Instead, we will focus on two key steps that influence the final price of an app.
Prototypes are the UX-stage deliverables that mock the final product. As a rule, these prototypes are usually mid and high fidelity, mimicking the appearance of your final product but without all the underlying functionality. A prototype is not a real product, though some people, by mistake, believe that they are. The purpose of a prototype is to make your application valid your application idea by letting real users test it. As a rule, UX designers utilize prototypes to test usability (how easy an application’s interface is to use) and feasibility (what technology you need to power the UX design).
Prototyping affects the overall development cost. Effective prototyping can keep the prices down by helping you:
Estimate more Accurately
Making structural changes to the final design implementation stage is time-consuming and expensive. At the prototyping stage, do the design of an application’s information architecture and the positioning of the blocks and determination of the sizes. It is that developers that can accurately estimate the efforts and time needed for implementation. Effective prototyping helps you to get more precise figures instead of the rough estimates.
Avoid feature Creep.
Characterization of Feature creep is by the addition of more and more unnecessary features that result in failed deadlines and smashed budgets. You can also prevent feature creep with the help of prototyping. Instead of relying on your inner sense, you use prototypes to see how real users will react to the product and make an unbiased decision.
Test out your Application’s Content
Content is the king when it gets coupled with great design. According to Adobe’s research, 39% of people are likely to leave a website if either its content or layout looks unattractive. At the prototyping stage, you can test how your content is received (texts, images, videos, etc.). Testing your content can help you create a content marketing strategy that goes well with your app’s design and entices your customers with an anesthetic.
Usability (or user) testing works hard to simulate situations in which an end-user will use your product. You may wonder: Why bother engaging people from outside in testing if I have sufficient team members? All the people involved in the processes of delivering an application, including developers and designers, spend much time working closely with the application. This proximity often leads to bias, and people close to a project can not always see issues that are evident from an outsider’s perspective. Usability testing attempts to get through this bias.
At the usability testing stage, users help the UX designers ensure that the application is convenient and easy to use. We can check various components during user testing: fonts (are they readable?), the size of buttons (are they easy to interact with?), the positioning of blocks, sequence of the registration steps, buying funnel, and so on.
By performing usability testing, we evade implementing an inconvenient design and therefore avoid reworking inconvenient design solutions in the later run.
UX design Increases your Revenue
Have you ever thought why do you prefer one site to another when they effectively deliver the same content, range of goods, and pricing? UX design that proves the love at first sight exists. Almost 75% of people judge a website based on its overall aesthetics. A user-friendly interface that focuses on a customer’s needs is more likely to convert customers.
Several agencies study the impact of user experience on conversion rates. Let’s have a look at a few elements of a successful UX design that can help you boost your revenue.
Ease of Use
Ease of use directly affects your sales. Indicators of an easy-to-use application include intuitive, useful onboarding, navigation, and UX design patterns that need no time to learn. If your site conforms to generally accepted rules of usability, your visitors will more likely perform the desired interactions. For instance, make a purchase, create an account, or subscribe.
Reduced Number of Steps
In a customer journey map, a user performs a specific number of interactions (“steps”) that help them achieve their ultimate goal (to book a flat or donate to charity, for example). The more steps it performs for the users to achieve their goals, the less motivated they will be to fulfill them. Actions might include compulsory registration or fill in personal details in a form. To minimize the number of steps needed, UX designers come up with solutions like one-page checkouts that let customers proceed to purchase right after they have picked the product.
Clear Calls to Action (CTAs)
A button that says “Contact Us” or “Subscribes to our email list” is an example of a call to action. UX designers understand that leaving the users without a clear call to action is not acceptable. KISS metrics found that a video with a call to action button got 380 times more clicks than the similar video without a CTA.
Undoubtedly, the approaches listed above are not the only ways to enhance your conversion rates. Before going further, we would like to underscore that a successful UX strategy not only converts new visitors but retains the existing customers as well. The ROI of each dollar invested in UX design ranges between $10 to $100.
UX Design Motivates the Users to Interact with your Content
Content is generally anything that we see on a webpage or in a mobile app. Content refers to the texts, videos, images, advertisements, etc. Whether you are running a lifestyle blog or an e-commerce site, you do deliver the content of some type. Recent blogs are more often associated with images and videos rather than with textual blog posts ‒ in large part to target millennials.
What role does the UX design play in motivating the users to interact with the content you posted? View related blog posts, read an article on your blog, or purchase an item? There are a lot of content design techniques that help you befriend users with your content. Let us look at some of them.
When designing an app, UX designers meticulously build user personas or descriptions of people who will potentially use an application. User personas look the same as profiles of real people. It includes personal information, biographies, and motivations for using your app. User personas let UX designers get a better feel for their target audience and create user experiences that inspire the end-users to browse your site or mobile application.
Second, modern UX design focuses more on personalization. Personalized user experiences are all about delivering content that is relevant to a particular user. Blocks on eCommerce sites that say, “You will also like these products,” “Similar to the items you have recently viewed,” and “Inspired by your wishlist” effectively grab people’s attention. 57% of people reveal that they are likely to return to a site that shows recommendations.
Finally, UX designers work hard to achieve consistency. Use a consistent design that is predictable and comfortable. It is comprised of well-known components like menus on the left side and breadcrumbs for more straightforward navigation.
UX Design Increases Customer Loyalty
As we also mentioned before, excellent UX design not only attracts new users, but it also retains them. Returning users are loyal users. You can build customer loyalty through positive experiences with a web or mobile application. These positive experiences bind users to your products and keep them coming back for more products.
One of the approaches to creating customer loyalty is creating a customer journey map (CJM). UX designers build customer journey maps to represent the customer’s interaction with the product starting from the very first contact (the “contact point”). Customer journey maps often get delivered as visual (diagrams) or textual (storytelling) documents. There is precisely no right or wrong way to create a customer journey map. A CJM can help you boost the loyalty of your visitors by helping you:
Empathy understands the requirement of your target audience or, as the famous proverb says, “walking in your audience’s shoes.” A well-crafted customer journey map reveals the emotional state of your users at different stages of their journey (for example, after successfully finishing onboarding).
When a user incurs a problem while trying to act (for example, the site does not accept a credit card during checkout) or can not find a necessary component (like a menu hidden behind a burger button), these interactions can send them away from your site or app. A CJM can help you to identify bottlenecks, or things that cause your users to feel frustrated, and fix them.
Increase Retention Rate
The retention rate is especially important for e-commerce. A CJM lets UX designers to track customers’ interactions with content, determine customer satisfaction ratings, gather the usability scores, and collect other required data. Collectively, these metrics give UX designers the precious insights they require to optimize their designs to engage the audience better and win their loyalty.
UX Design Stimulates Word-of-mouth
In the previous part, we talked about approaches to creating a tight connection between your application and your users. Here, we will talk about another reliable marketing tool that can be encouraged with proper UX design ‒ word-of-mouth.
More contact means more information sharing, exchanging, gossiping, engaging – in short, more word-of-mouth.
Word-of-mouth is the sharing of any information about a specific product or service through personal communications. Either on social media and in daily interactions. When people spread the word about one particular product just because they want to and not because you have paid them, it means that the word-of-mouth is advertising your product.
It would take a whole article to talk about the importance of word-of-mouth promotion and ways you can motivate people to talk about your product. In this article, we will briefly explain how UX stimulates word-of-mouth.
Facilitates Social Sharing
UX designers realize the importance of social media sharing. One example of this recognition is displaying links to social media websites targeted at particular audiences. For instance, art sites like Dribbble offer easier sharing to other sites for creatives, such as Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, instead of more formal websites like LinkedIn. Social integrations let you reach your target audience better and provide a convincing value proposition.
People tend to believe in others who are like them and tend to learn the behaviors from their peers. UX solutions such as star ratings, reviews, and “people who bought this item also bought” features create a customers’ sense of trust, encourage customers to talk about a particular product, and, as a result, increase average order sizes.
UX Design keeps you from Wasting Resources
By investing in better UX designs, you can avoid wasting time, human resources, and money.
Your “human resources” are everyone who is involved in building your product. Unfortunately, when employees do not get managed well, the result can turn to be financial losses. An example of such a misuse of resources is hiring sales managers and marketers to promote a product without providing a user experience that entices users.
Time is a valuable resource that directly affects the financial side of a project. Previously, we mentioned that UX design helps evade feature creep with the use of prototyping and user testing. Moreover, user experience research helps you to detect inefficient solutions and prevent their implementation at the development stage by tailoring your features to meet the requirements of your target audience.
Great user experience will not leave your visitors indifferent. Analysts and marketers can try their best to predict the behaviors of end-users, but in the end, users are still hugely led by emotions. While it is definitely not possible to predict what your end users want with 100% certainty, designing a captivating UI and UX, though a hard task, is worthwhile.
Future of UX/UI Designs
UI may be designed by algorithm instead of in Sketch. The focus in the broader experience instead of an individual product. The design challenges will be less about driving conversions in hotel booking applications. It will also be more about how to help out travelers have the best impression of a hotel from planning through checkout. Mastery of new and old design disciplines is more critical as more significant and more complex problems need to be solved.
Once, the term ‘User Experience’ was used to describe the ‘design of everyday things. Everything that makes up your experience with a product (digital or other). Today, as the realization that we live in an increasingly complicated world sinks in, the term ‘UX’ has turned to represent the detailed design of digital products (in specific, mobile apps, websites, and software applications).
With newer design disciplines like System Design, Service Design, Critical Design, Speculative Design, Strategic Design, and Design Thinking, UX has become old-hat. Complex problems need more in-depth solutions than a website ‘revamp,’ and UX designers themselves are fleeing to other.
The detailed design of the digital things is already more intertwined with everyday life than a hand-written letter was 100 years ago. From making a site to curating Instagram to utilizing Powerpoint, everyone designs these days. Which will only make expert craftsmanship and
The sheer scale and speed of technological progress combined with just how many poorly designed ‘everyday things’ that already exist means that the detailed design of digital products will remain. As UX becomes more automated, menial, or even DIY, there will be more space and time for design professionals. It will be to put the craft of holistic human experiences first, and the detailed design of digital things last.
You have probably noticed it already that there are a lot of skills required to become a UI/UX designer. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts, magic recipes. It is all about dedication, hard work, a lot of patients, and practice. You do need to keep learning and working hard each day, as that is the only way you can improve. Every person is different and will have a different journey to becoming a UI/UX designer. I hope that you must have learned something from our article and found it useful.