You’ve probably heard the acronyms ‘UX’ and ‘UI’ bandied about and wondered what they mean (that, or shuddered and blocked them from your mind as sounding waaay too techy and confusing). Don’t fear though, we’re here to break-down these webby terms and explain why user experience matters.
User experience and user interface for dummies
So let’s keep this simple: User Interface (UI) refers to the functional elements you use to interact with services, products, a device or a site, like the buttons, icons, layout or other tactile and visual elements of a website, app, or program.
User Experience (UX) refers to the user’s experience when on a website, such as how smoothly the user can navigate and how easy it is to find what they’re looking for. It’s about putting the user – and the user’s needs when interacting with your company, brand and products – first and foremost when designing and developing a site. A UX designer might use user research, eye tracking, usability analysis, wireframing, A/B Testing and competitor analysis to achieve this.
Perhaps confusingly, UX can be broader than the user’s experience with a site. It can cover the user’s whole experience with a brand and its products – from the path the user takes to discover the product, to the product’s design and presentation, to the way the user feels when interacting with a brand or product, incorporating disciplines such as engineering, research, marketing, graphic design, and UI – the visual interface of your site.
Good UX comes as a result of in-depth user research, which is undertaken prior to wireframing and visual design (UI).
At this point, user research systematically investigates the potential site users and their requirements, adding context and insight into the process of designing the user experience (UX).
In short – user research informs UX design, which informs UI design. Ideally, this process is an ongoing cycle, with quarterly, six-monthly or annual reviews to ensure the site is evolving along with its users’ often changing needs.
Why UX and UI matter
Even more confusing – because they are still evolving, UX and UI are often roles undertaken and fulfilled by web developers and designers.
But they are both crucial to a successful site. For example, if a site loads too slowly, or a user doesn’t like its appearance or find what they need quickly (UI), they will abandon it (more on that topic here). Or if a site is designed without the user in mind, and doesn’t fulfill their needs (UX), they will also quickly leave – no matter how great the site might look (more about that here).
The Red Cloud team’s skill set includes understanding design research from planning and conducting tests, to analysis and use, including user research, UX and UI design, web development, and graphic design. This means, if Red Cloud is building your site for you, you probably don’t need to worry too much about terms like UX and UI. You can trust that as part of our personalised service delivery, we’ve got you covered for UX and UI.