Most people by now have heard about the terms user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) used synonymously within the app design community, but in fact they are two separate areas that compliment each other when done well. On most large scale projects the responsibility of UI and UX are separated to different people or teams to ensure each gets its due care and attention, as each requires a different skill set. For those of you working on smaller projects, where the separation of tasks isn't available, you still need to understand the differences in order to create a well-received app.
What is the User Interface?
UI is primarily concerned with the visual aspects of applications from colour choices, tools and graphics through to layout and typography. The purpose of the UI design in app development is to create something that is interesting and aesthetically pleasing while having a logical, intuitive layout for users, which is often easier said than done.
Deals with the visual aspects of the app
Focuses on first impressions
Marries the user to the content
Tends to be more creative
"Put simply, if the interface is poorly designed, I will not see the data I was looking for, even if it was right there on the page."
Jeffrey Zeldman, Author, Entrepenuer and Web Designer
What is the User Experience?
On the other hand, UX tends to be more subjective, as it delves into the dynamic relationship between human and computer interactions. UX focuses on creating the perception of a seamless, easy to use, efficient and valuable experience for the user. Because of the intangible and subjective nature of UX, it is often more difficult to design and measure; however, a general rule of thumb is that a good UX should consider the users experience during and after using the app. You want users to be comfortable using the app to find what they are looking for and come away feeling satisfied.
Deals with the emotional aspects of app design
Focuses on lasting impressions
Marries the user to the brand/app
Tends to be more analytical and technical
"Design is about 3 dimensions and the 5 senses."
Danielle Sacks, Executive Editor at Inc Magazine
How does UI and UX compliment each other?
When designing the user interface and the user experience you should consider them together for planning and design. The UI team is responsible for branding and grabbing attention while the UX team is responsible for maintaining interest and creating brand loyalty and a lasting impression. Consider the following analogy of how these concepts working harmoniously together;
Creating an app with a user interface that looks great but has had little or no user experience consideration will often be overly complicated, difficult to use and can hide the critical content that your audience is looking for.
Conversely, if you have not considered the user interface but have developed a great user experience it will often result in a display that is visually unappealing, amateur-looking and conflicts with the brand image or content of the app. It can even go as far as to create an element of doubt as to the credibility of the app in the users mind resulting in lower conversions and brand loyalty.
“Design creates stories, and stories create memorable experiences, and great experiences have this innate ability to change the way in which we view our world.”
Christian Saylor, Senior UX Design Specialist at Universal Mind
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