The Difference Between UX and UI Design: Why it Matters

all killer.  no filler.

User Experience and Why it’s Critical

User Experience – UX for short, has emerged as an industry buzzword in the past several years, and we’re here to break down exactly what that means.

The truth about UX is perhaps that it matters more than we can currently quantify.

Here are a few reasons why:

  • by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the most important brand differentiator
  • 61% of users move to another site if they don’t find what they’re looking for right away
  • 67% of customers are more likely to purchase on mobile friendly websites
  • mobile users are 5 times more likely to abandon tasks if the site is not optimized

What Separates UX from UI

Think of UX as part of a holistic, human-centered design approach.

It encompasses the entire user journey, ergo it’s a multidisciplinary field. As such, UX designers tend to be incredibly versatile, coming from a complex variety of backgrounds, including programming, psychology, sociology, visual design, and interaction design.

A day in the life of a UX Designer might include crafting user personas or customer journeys, and digging deep into ideation. It includes competitive analysis, or even focus groups, information architecture and online surveys. It definitely includes a lot of research. We need to learn all we can about a client’s targeted user – their goals, motivations, and needs.

Specifically, we need to understand the context of a user’s journey, what’s important and why it matters. Only then can we specify user requirements, and begin imagining design solutions. And ultimately, we evaluate these design solutions against the user requirements.

The goal of this complex process is that we address all relevant user needs and combat issues in an optimal way. Creating a pleasant experience for the user can actually be broken down to a science when you apply human-centered design approach within the context of UX.

On the other hand, UI (user interface) design is also an important part of the UX process. This is when we dive into the look and feel of the web project’s aesthetics. Typically, we begin with wireframes and pinpointing exactly which features need to go where on a page. This is typically done in a low fidelity mockup so that clients can get a better understanding of what they’re going to see and why it matters.

To paint a better picture: UI Design is the hazard button in your car’s dashboard. A UI Designer wants to know the color of the button, and the shape of the button. A UX Designer wants to know where the button should be placed in the car’s dashboard so that the driver can find it easily in a time of crisis.

UX Saves Money in the Long Run

Now you have a better understanding of the key differences between UX and UI Design, and why it’s critical to a successful web project.

Data-driven research shows that for approximately every $2 spent on UX, it returns $100. You can also achieve brand loyalty solely through user experience: even when price is not a factor, customers are 15.8% less likely to switch brands when there’s a positive user experience. Explore the link for research sources on the inherent business value of UX Design.

Additionally, as many as 40% of your customers turn to your competition after a bad user experience, making investing in UX an absolute must for any business wanting to achieve longevity and a loyal, repeat customer base.

Top Corporations are Leading the Charge

Companies like Amazon have funded customer experience over advertising at as much as 100% and it shows. They attribute customer experience to their high retention rate.

Google founders attended usability classes at Stanford University, with an entire corner of Google focused on its commitment to UX design and human-centered design excellence.

Even Airbnb attributes design-thinking in its transformation from a failing startup to a billion dollar business.

It’s important to note that smaller businesses might not have the need or the budget to invest in heavy UX work at the beginning of a project, and that’s OK. Not every project will need it. The work we do during our onboarding and project planning phase is customized for each project based on the individual goals we work with our client to understand – from the start.  It’s well worth the time, effort and investment and more often than not, pays for itself many times over in the development phase and beyond. 

At the end, it comes down to planning and asking the right questions. Learn more about why planning for a website is as important as developing one, and what that really means for your project.