How UX and UI are different, yet equally important

11th March 2021

UI and UX are two completely different terms in web and app design but are very often confused for one another. They’re usually placed in succession (UX/UI design) and used interchangeably, and more often than not, they’re used incorrectly! So no wonder there’s difficulty in what they mean individually. But, to avoid any further confusion, we’re going to take it back to basics…

What is UI design?

UI stands for user interface and in simple terms, this is how your app looks. UI design refers to the graphical layout of an application, from the buttons that users click on and the images that they see, to the text they read and the forms they fill out. Every single micro-interaction, any visual element or animation, all has to be designed and this is what UI design is. 

Why is UI design important?

UI design is one of the main factors in increasing app downloads, app traffic and the time spent in-app in general. A good user interface design should draw in your user and keep them there, and also ensure that your user is confident in recommending your app to other people. And yes, UI design mainly refers to the aesthetic of your app, but it should also be considered a way to maximise the responsiveness, efficiency and accessibility too as this will then move towards increasing conversion rates.

For example, let’s say you have an e-commerce app, selling footwear and sportswear. Your user has downloaded the app looking for a particular pair of trainers and they intend to make a purchase. They’re navigating through your app, they’ve found the pair they want and now they’re able to choose the colour, their size, add to basket, and quickly checkout. A process that has been made seamless by the fact that your UI design ensures that the buttons and drop-down menus needed for this customer journey have been designed in a way that is eye-catching, easy to find, and also easy to use. Did you know that even the shape of a button can influence a customer’s decision-making? Well, you do now! 

Long story short, a good UI design is important in turning users into customers or users into loyal brand advocates. UI design can be simple and understated, but it should never be overlooked.

What is UX design? 

UX stands for user experience and it is determined by how a user interacts with a product. In this case, the product is an app. Is the app seamless and intuitive to use, or is it difficult and confusing to navigate? UX design should make using an app an easy process, and focus on creating a logical yet fulfilling journey for the user. If a user has closed down an app because they struggled to complete the task they set out to do, then the UX design has failed. 

Why is UX design important? 

The overall experience that your user has on your app will determine how they perceive your product. Users look for apps that provide value, are easy to use, and most importantly, help them fulfill the goal that they set out to achieve when downloading it in the first place. If they are unable to fulfill this goal, the likelihood is they’ll close the app, never to return again.

Let’s take our previous example, the same user that is looking for a pair of trainers on your e-commerce app. Yes, they’ve found the shoes they want, they’ve chosen their colour but when they click on the button to choose their size, it takes them to another page. They return, they try again, and it kicks them back out. If you’re lucky, they’ll try for a third time but this is unlikely. Instead, they close your app and perhaps even delete it before downloading another.

In this day and age, we’re a fickle bunch and we don’t like to have to work too hard to get what we want. This means a good UX design is imperative in keeping your users happy and stress-free and subsequently ensuring the overall success of your app. 

Why are UX design and UI design often confused?

Although we have gone on and on about how UX and UI are completely separate disciplines, it would be wrong to say that they are not complementary and are complete without one another. After all, both design processes have the same end goal – to pave the way for a fantastic end-product. Because of this, it is also common in the tech industry to give the responsibility of UX and UI to an individual ‘UX/UI designer’. This definitely does not mean they do not have completely separate skillsets for each discipline or that they are unable to differentiate between the two, it just means it’s harder for others to do so!

Okay, let’s wrap it up…

We found a short and sweet explanation from User Testing that we think sums up UX and UI perfectly.

‘UX encompasses all the experiences a person has with a product or service, whereas UI is specific to the means by which people interact with a product or service.’ 

User Testing, 2018

To reiterate, UX and UI are very separate, very crucial aspects of your app and in order to make your app successful, both should be considered extensively. You must provide a great user interface and a great user experience. Both of which should meet the needs and requirements of your target audience and their market preferences.

Think your app’s UI and UX may need a little more attention after reading this? Get in touch and let’s chat about how we can help! 

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