Many people have heard the term “User Experience and User Interface ” but not everyone knows what this means. UX Design refers to the term User Experience Design, while UI Design stands for User Interface Design. Both elements are crucial to a product and work closely together. But despite their professional relationship, the roles themselves are quite different, referring to very different parts of the process and the design discipline. Where UX Design is a more analytical and technical field, UI Design is closer to what we refer to as graphic design, though the responsibilities are somewhat more complex.
UX and UI is rapidly growing and revolutionizing how people interact with the world around them. It’s why the internet evolved from Geocities homepages with blinking “Under Construction” signs to the sophisticated interfaces use every day.
As is found on Wikipedia:
User Experience (UX) is the process of enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty by improving the usability, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the customer and the product. User experience is practiced by UX designers — but also product managers, product designers, entrepreneurs, startups, and forward-thinking organizations.
The Four Key Elements of the UX Process:
UX designers work with people by learning about their habits and goals, identifying needs and constraints, and aligning with existing behaviors to create solutions that are easy to use (efficient) and solve a real problem (effective).
Some UX methods and tools used to learn about user behaviors:
- User interviews are one of the most important ways that UX designers uncover information. User interviews are usually focused on the qualitative data, which is information that can’t be measured but that is rich in emotional detail.
- A customer journey map is a visual document that details a user’s interactions with a company or product and how they feel about each interaction.
- A task analysis is used to analyze how users perform tasks in order to achieve a goal. Through observation, designers learn about the user’s current process (and work-arounds if no solution exists).
- Designers are always documenting, analyzing, and communicating user insights and data with their team to keep everyone on the same page. Designers might document a user interview using a screen-sharing tool that captures how a user moves through a website to complete a task. Then, they might analyze that information by creating an affinity map with their team to identify common trends or patterns in the collected data. Finally, they might create a user persona to bring this user data to life and communicate findings with their team.
Strategy in UX is also about understanding where an existing product or process can be improved and communicating this effectively to internal teams and external users through design. Fundamentally, UX is about design empathy, which means translating user needs into actionable solutions.
One of the first steps in UX is user research. In order to solve a problem, a designer first needs to observe and understand what’s happening from the user’s perspective. Asking questions is a great way to uncover a lot of information about user needs and frustrations. These user insights can then be translated into design solutions that solve the user’s problem efficiently and effectively.
Some great questions to ask when strategizing:
- Who is our user?
- What is the user’s motivation or goal?
- How does this make them feel?
- Is the process clear?
- What do they expect when they click this?
- Are you assuming something about users? How could you test this assumption?
- Are you thinking of the user’s wants and needs, or your own?
- What do we want users to do? How are we helping them do it?
Strategy is then translated into design through artifacts such as user flows (how a user moves through a system to achieve a goal), wireframes (schematics that show how a digital interface will look and function), and high-fidelity prototypes (a working model of a design) that can be tested with users.
Good design is ultimately determined by usability. If a design does not help the user solve a problem, or makes solving a problem extremely challenging, it is not a good design. If the user is confused or doesn’t know where to go, or you designed it for you? Also not a good design. Because design is about functionality, usability is more important than aesthetics. While designers talk a lot about designing for “delight,” the best designs are usable. Designers can add delight through sophisticated animations, friendly language, and unexpected surprises that anticipate users’ needs. However, if the design is not usable, all these delightful details don’t matter. This may seem like a simple practice in theory, but that’s not always the case.
Usability is about creating products that anyone can use, especially if they have a disability or impairment. Usability is also about accessibility, which means that physical constraints or disabilities don’t prohibit or impede someone’s use of a product or service. Good design is about helping humans.
Finally, validation is a critical piece of the UX process. Ideally products need to be tested with users before they are deployed to the public. Unfortunately, this is not always the case with companies that are eager to launch their products out into the world. The UX process emphasizes testing with real users early and often in order to ensure that the design solves the right problem.
Solving the right problem is the most important task that UX designers face. However, testing often throughout the process also means that you’ll catch mistakes sooner and be able to adjust without losing users. When things don’t work or are difficult to use, most people give up.
There are many ways to validate an idea or assumption, depending on the amount of time and money you can invest in the project. The important thing to remember with validation is that it removes the guesswork from the design process.
As is found on Wikipedia:
User Interface (UI) is the design of user interfaces of machines and software, such as computers, home appliances, mobile devices, and other electronic devices, with a focus on maximizing usability and user experience. The goal of user interface design is to make the user’s interaction as simple and efficient as possible, in terms of accomplishing user goals (user-centered design).
A key reason for the recent surge in focus on UI design is that Google is now rewarding ‘points’ to sites that offer the best ‘User Experience’. As they result in better rankings, this has become a new focus area for several enterprises. The other reason is the emergence of mobile devices as a tool for surfing the internet, the smaller sizes of the mobile screens which are impelling designers to be careful regarding the navigation in between text and the layout of their design. A UI Sketching Toolkit with ready-to-use templates will help you design your user interface on various devices.
Primarily, User Interface focuses on the anticipation of user’s requirements and ensuring that your interface has the right tools to support their actions.
User Interface design fundamentals in while creating a UI design
- Pick The Right Interface Elements
Users have now increasingly become aware and familiar with interface elements acting in a certain way, so it is essential to be consistent and predictable in your choices and their layout. This will help you complete the task with efficiency and satisfaction.
Typically, interface elements include:
- Input Controls: The include buttons, text fields, checkboxes, radio buttons, dropdown lists, list boxes, toggles, date fields.
- Navigational Components: pagination, slider, tags, breadcrumb, search field, slider, icons
- Informational Components: tooltips, icons, progress bar, notifications, message boxes, modal windows.
2. The Best Design Practices UI design
When designing for UI, design fundamentally depends on fully knowing users, and that includes knowing their preferences, tendencies, skills as well as their goals. This step is a critical one because once understand the habits of user, it becomes easier to pick the appropriate interface design elements as mentioned here:
Keep your interface simple. The best kind of an interface is one that is as good as ‘invisible’ to the people using the interface. It is best to avoid any unnecessary elements and be clear in the language used on all the labels, and in their message.
Be consistent and use expected regular elements. The use of the regular, known elements in your UI design is critical. Over time, your users tend to get comfortable and are thus able to use the site more efficiently. A significant part of this argument comprises of a ‘rule’ that once a user learns how to do something, they tend to transfer that ‘skill’ to part and screens of that site.
Be careful when choosing the page layout. Note that the physical relationship between the page elements and page elements is based their significance. Placing these components carefully on the page that can help draw focus to the important informative segments and interactive elements. This also improves the readability of the page as well as the readers scanning speed.
Use color to attract. The appropriate use of textures, shades, and colors can help you focus attention toward, as well as redirect attention away, from design elements of low significance. This allows users to interact much more efficiently.
Use typography for clarity and hierarchy. Your typeface, font and text arrangement can determine the legibility and clarity of your design. Using different types of fonts, sizes, and headers can imply a hierarchy in your design, making it easier for the reader to understand the undertone of your UI interface.
Give feedback. The reader is prone to confusion when confronted with complicated interfaces. Therefore it is critical to keep your readers abreast of updates or changes in your UI if there are any. Additionally, you can utilize different UI elements to communicate the status of your reader in the navigation of the site.
Ensure defaults are displayed. Plan carefully to anticipate the actions of your readers, such as directing them towards particular CTA areas. Some defaults, such as subscriptions, pop-ups, and escape zones must be clearly displayed in your design. This not only reduces the confusion of the reader but also improves site efficiency and user satisfaction. This could be a lucrative opportunity to fill in some of your fields and spaces with data has been pre-chosen.
Give more power to your users. When your users learn how to navigate through your design, it is essential to shift power to their hands. Let your users work independently and divide their actions into units so that they won’t get distracted along the way.