Sometimes people talk about UI/UX design like they are two sides of the same coin. However, for a budding designer, it is the key difference between visual direction and manipulation and user experience and interaction.
Say you take a guided tour. UI/UX design is the difference between whether a tour was an informative and efficient one vs whether it was enjoyable. It seems like there is not much of a difference but the key lies in interdependency of the two fields. Both are needed for you to feel like the tour was worth it and memorable enough that you would recommend it to someone else.
How does design manipulate user perception?
Merriam-Webster describes user perception as “the mental image that a person forms of something from the information available to them.” It is designed to represent a user’s impressions of something, and it is the designers job to manipulate this mental image for their advantage.
In terms of business, user perception is defined as how a user perceives the value of the product or service. It is not about the look of the UI or UX but instead, it is about how users feel and think when using it. Design can manipulate user perception by creating an environment that encourages positive experience, like using colors to evoke certain emotions or by making sure all text is easy to read.
Why is this important?
Well if you want to gain the attention of your target audience, you have to impress them first. Say you go on a date, everything from the way your partner dresses and the conversation you have to the ambiance of the date location is going to alter how you feel about the date, how you remember it, and if you are going to agree to a second one. If you fail to impress on the first date, then you are probably not going to get future ones.
In the same way, UI/UX allow your website to create and craft that first impression upon its users. Impressing is not just about visually attracting users, it is about giving them a pleasant experience that will make them want to come back.
Good UI/UX design takes into account how users are likely to interact with your website, and the goals of the site. This means formulating a comprehensive user flow that takes into consideration all possible scenarios and questions that may arise during navigation. By putting yourself in the shoes of less tech-savvy website visitors, you can look for opportunities to make the website easier to use and less overwhelming, such as providing clear call-to-action buttons or simplifying language.
When it comes to user perception, designers must think beyond the visuals and consider how users feel while using the website. Things like color, typography, and animation should all be chosen carefully to alter the user’s focus, engage his curiosity, and steer him in the right direction. Even the less-obvious elements like line spacings and font weights play an important role in how the user perceives and interacts with a website.
Take color, for instance, color can create harmony, balance, and contrast when used correctly. The color palette indicates the tone, feeling, and purpose of the website. Color can direct and redirect the user’s gaze, create a hierarchy of important content and draw attention to certain areas. On the other hand, interactive features like fadeaways, animations, microinteractions or effects allow the user to feel like he is in control of the website and make interactions more enjoyable.
User Interface design focuses on providing users with an enjoyable experience, one which is efficient, intuitive and visually pleasing. The design, therefore, lays emphasis on internal consistency, visually appealing, consistent branding and contains the most important information for the user first.
Properties of a well-designed UI
UI designs can be extremely versatile, completely dependent on what the designer is trying to achieve; however there are some properties of a well designed UI that are universal.
A user interface needs to be visually clear and logical, enabling the user to understand how to use it quickly without any confusion. Visual metaphors and cues can be used to explain and point users in the right direction, however too many can cause confusion– if a button doesn’t do what it says it should then the user will have difficulty navigating through the system.
A UI must be consistent in both its design and behavior so that users can move from one part of the system to another without having to learn a whole new set of rules. With regards to usage patterns, it is important to try and keep the user’s workflow as linear as possible, without too much branching. This helps to reduce complexity and makes it easier for the user to understand how to use the system.
Users should be able to recognize similar elements throughout the system. This helps them to become more familiar with the system and its features, reducing the time it takes for them to learn the system.
Users should be able to do as much as they want in the least amount of time and with the least possible effort. This means that features should be easy to find, understand, and use, and that there should be minimal duplication of tasks or inputs.
Repetition allows users to become comfortable with the system, so they can use it more naturally and confidently. A good UI also forgives its user’s mistakes, and should never let them get stuck or confused.
There are various elements that are used in UI design, including buttons, menus and links. Buttons allow users to perform an action or navigate within the system, while menus and links provide navigation options for users and can be customized for specific tasks. Lets discuss these elements in more detail:
The color scheme used in UI design is an important factor that contributes to the user experience. The colors should be chosen carefully, as they represent emotions, actions and states within the system. Additionally, their impact on readability and focus should not be discounted either as colors can draw attention to certain elements, making them easier for users to find. A good color scheme should be consistent throughout the application and should be easily readable for users.
Typefaces are the styles of a font. Some typefaces are considered more sexy and glamorous, while others are more serious or traditional. The right typeface can create an emotional connection with your users and set the tone for the page.
Choosing the correct font for your UI can be a daunting task, but it is essential to the overall aesthetic. It should harmonize with your color scheme and create an atmosphere that matches your application’s purpose and intent.
When choosing icons, think about how the icon will look at different sizes and if there are any accessibility implications. It is best practice to use vector graphics for icons as they remain sharp regardless of size. Types of iconography includes:
- Pictograms: Pictograms are often used to represent concepts or categories, and can be an efficient way to visually communicate a message quickly.
- Glyphs: Glyphs are small shapes that represent something else, such as arrows or numbers. They’re great for adding subtle visual cues and providing additional information.
- Buttons: Buttons are the most basic element of a user interface. They allow users to perform an action or navigate within the system. Buttons can be used for anything from submitting data, navigating to different parts of the application, accessing information, and performing various tasks. Different types of buttons include primary (the main action), secondary (informative or supplementary), tertiary (supportive of a primary action) and delete/confirm buttons.
- Animations: Animations are used to bring life and dynamism to a user interface. Animations can be used for various purposes, such as providing feedback on user actions, conveying information, guiding the user’s attention or helping illustrate complex interactions. They also make an otherwise static interface more engaging and entertaining.
Layout and Grid System:
A grid system provides structure to the layout and is used to place elements in their respective positions. A typical grid system will have a set of columns and rows that are evenly spaced, with certain elements placed in specific positions on the grid. This helps create a consistent look and feel throughout the design.
A frame helps create boundaries for the user interface. The frame provides a container for all other elements, making sure that every element fits within its constraints. The frame also establishes a visual hierarchy, allowing designers to prioritize certain elements over others.
By adding elements such as lines and shapes, a designer can create an impactful visual experience that draws the user in. Layouts also define relationships between elements, helping users quickly identify the navigation options or important pieces of content.
Role of a UI designer
The role of a UI designer can best be described as a creative problem solver and communicator. UI designers must think critically about the overall user experience, considering not only visual elements but also functionality, usability, and accessibility.
- By combining research on user behavior with their creative vision for a product’s design, UI designers are required to have an in-depth recognition of their target audience.
- UI designers are also responsible for crafting the user interface components within an app or website, including buttons, data entry fields, navigation bars, menus, etc. This requires knowledge of different interaction models and design patterns such as sliders, carousels, drop+down menus, and forms. It also requires an understanding of various information architectures and wireframes that allow for easier navigation within a website or app.
- As a UI designer, you are in charge of creating style guides, designing visual user interface elements, and collaborating with other developers. You should be able to translate complex product requirements into intuitive designs that create a great user experience.
- UI designers must have strong knowledge of typography, colors, button styles, and other graphic design principles that enable them to create cohesive and aesthetically pleasing designs.
Impact on the user
The benefits of a great UI design include:
- Improved user experience when navigating websites or apps: A well-designed user interface will make it easier for users to navigate through the website or app, leading to a better overall experience.
- Reduced cognitive load: Designing an intuitive UI reduces the amount of effort required for users to complete tasks on the website or app. This allows for more efficient task completion and less frustration.
- Better brand recognition: A quality user interface that is visually pleasing and easy to use helps create a positive impression of the company’s brand in the minds of users.
- Increased engagement: A great UI design can make it more likely that a user will stay on the website or app for longer periods of time, increasing the chances for successful conversions.
- Enhanced accessibility: A good UI takes into account factors like color contrast and font size to ensure that all users, regardless of age or ability, can access the content.
UX is the sum total of user experience, from the moment a user first encounters your website or app, to the moment they complete a desired action. UX design focuses on how a user interacts with a product or service, and takes into account elements like usability, aesthetics, and utility. UX practitioners strive to make sure that users can complete their goals in an efficient and satisfying way.
Properties of an well-functioning UX
A well-functioning UX design ensures the following:
Solves a problem:
A good UX design first and foremost understands the user’s problem and then provides an intuitive user interface that helps users find what they need quickly and easily, ensuring that their experience is as seamless as possible.
Has an organized structure:
High and low-fidelity wireframes and prototypes
A good UX design process will include creating a wireframe or prototype to demonstrate how the interface of the website behaves. This step is critical for allowing stakeholders to visualize what the final product will look like and make sure it meets their expectations. High-fidelity wireframes are used to get detailed feedback from users, while low-fidelity prototypes are often used as rough drafts to help convey the idea of the website quickly.
A good UX design process will always include testing the product with users. This allows the designer to get feedback on what works and what doesn’t, and make sure that their design meets user’s needs and expectations.
In order to create a successful UX design, there are several key elements that need to be taken into consideration. These include
- User research: Gathering data on user needs and behaviour, as well as competitive analysis, is an integral part of the UX design process.
- Information architecture: How information is organised and categorised has a big impact on how users interact with a website.
- Interaction design: This is where user interfaces are created. Interaction designers create prototypes to test out theories and make sure that the product meets users’ needs.
- Visual design: Visual design adds a layer of polish and aesthetic appeal to an interface, making it more visually appealing and easier to use.
- Usability testing: It involves having real users interact with and test a product in order to uncover any potential problems or issues that may arise during the development process
- Accessibility: This involves making sure that users with disabilities can access and use the product in the same way as an able-bodied user.
Role of a UX designer
Understanding audience: A UX designer must understand the needs and goals of the target audience. They need to identify any potential obstacles that may impede the user’s experience, such as poor navigation or slow page loading times.
Creating user flows
As part of their role, a UX designer will create user flows. These are diagrams that map out how users move through an experience, from start to finish. This helps identify any areas that could use improvement and helps answer questions such as “What should the user see first?”
Personas are fictional characters that represent an ideal user of a product or service. A UX designer will create personas to help designers and developers understand the needs, wants, and motivations of users.
Prototypes are models of a product or experience (sometimes created with software like Adobe XD) that allow designers to quickly test out ideas without investing too much time or money. Prototypes help a UX designer go from concept to reality and identify areas that need improvement or change.
User testing is another important step in the UX design process and helps to identify any usability issues before they become a problem. This involves recruiting real users to test out the product, asking them to provide feedback after performing tasks on the interface and observing how they interact with it.
Impact on the user
Unlike a UI design, which is quite tangible, a UX design is more of an invisible process that affects the user without them realizing it. It’s a subtle but powerful way to provide a better experience, making tasks easier and more enjoyable for users. Ultimately, UX design is all about creating products and services that are both useful and usable, ensuring that each user has a great experience when interacting with your product or service.
The impact of UX design is seen in improved customer satisfaction, increased user engagement, and higher return on investment (ROI). All these factors are important for any type of business, as they help to ensure a successful product or service launch. Additionally, if done correctly, it can also lead to an increase in brand loyalty and customer retention.
Balancing the two
Source : peppersquare
Although UI and UX are conceptually very different, they are complementary during the design process. In real time, both are meant to happen simultaneously and feedback into each other to create something that engages its users.
There is a balance to be achieved between UI and UX. If the UI is too attractive with no functional elements, users will become frustrated; if the UX has too much functionality but lacks aesthetic appeal, users also may not be encouraged to use it. Designers need to keep both in mind when creating a product that appeals to its audience. Additionally, the elements of UX should filter in through every step of the UI process to ensure a consistent user experience.
UI can be thought of as a consequence of UX. UX is the work that happens in the background, while UI is what users see and interact with. Successful UX should result in a fluid, intuitive user experience when they use the product or service. The UI then needs to be designed to reflect this experience and create a visually appealing look and feel for the user.
UX designers consider various elements when creating a product, including the target audience, usability goals and customer journey. They should try to understand how users interact with the product by taking into account their motivations, behaviors and emotions. UI designers then use this information to create a design that keeps users engaged and facilitates their tasks.
It is mandatory for UX designers to work closely with UI designers, but the two don’t always align perfectly. For example, a UX designer may opt to include certain features even if they do not look good in terms of visuals. This could lead to UI designers having to conform their designs around the features, resulting in design that may not be optimal.
It is also important to consider user feedback and opinion when creating a product. This can affect both UX and UI design decisions, but there are times when the two don’t always match up with what users want. Therefore, it might be prudent to keep these two processes distinct in terms of personnel so that each can be focused on their individual areas of expertise.
This will help ensure a more efficient and successful product, as each designer can bring their own unique perspective to the table without one taking over the other’s territory. Keeping UX and UI design separate allows focus to be put on creating the best possible user experience while still keeping visuals in mind.
UX and UI design are two closely related yet distinct processes that must work together in order to create a successful product. A great website is the direct result of a well-executed UX/UI design process, and having separate teams in charge of each will allow each process to be carried out effectively and efficiently. For any development project, it is important to remember that UI and UX design should complement each other throughout the entire process. By understanding how these two disciplines differ and why they are both essential in product design, you can create a user-friendly and engaging website that users will enjoy using. With the right design strategy, your product can be successful in achieving its goals and delighting your customers.