The tech world is constantly introducing new concepts when it comes to business and development. You may have heard the terms UX and UI in the same conversations and assume they mean the same thing, but they have different functions that come together to reach the same goal. There are no ‘official’ definitions of UX an UI, but this quick guide tells you everything you need to know about using these concepts to your advantage.
What is UX design?
The term UX stands for user experience, and refers to the experience that a user has when interacting with a product. UX is often associated with design, and is the process of creating a product, either physical or digital, that gives users a seamless experience that allows them to see the value of that product.
UX designers are tasked with focusing on the products consumption, but also have to take into account the accessibility of the product as well as how to troubleshoot it. There is no concrete definition of UX because it involves so many different aspects.
A good user experience is commonly defined as a product that meets its users needs in the context that they would use that product in. A bad user experience can be defined as a product that doesn’t let it’s users navigate easily or causes users to see no value in using the product for what it was designed for.
Good examples of UX design include:
Google is a brilliant example of UX design because of it’s simplicity. Most people don’t need to learn how to use Google, they simply type in the search bar and hit enter. It’s fast and easy to use which are two things that people are always looking for in a product. Extensions of the search engine such as Gmail and Google Drive are seamlessly linked together making it easier for people to navigate, and most importantly, making people repeat users.
LinkedIn is another great example of a platform with good UX design. From allowing you to create an account to providing you with steps that make your account stand out to employers, LinkedIn has a UX design that fits its exact purpose of connecting people together in the job world. The platform is constantly making suggestions on how you can improve your profile and develop your skills which gives people direction. Another great feature is how they send out emails related to the jobs you’re searching for that provides you with the most recent listings every day. This keeps people going to the platform regularly and this is without access to the premium features that LinkedIn offer.
The UX design of Twitter is why it has become one of the most popular social media platform for millenials since it was founded in 2006. Similar to Facebook, it allows users to communicate by sharing information and content, but the difference is Twitter is specifically designed for micro content. Tweets have a character limit of 280. You can comment on other tweets related to your own and quote other tweets to be more direct. The features of Twitter determine how its users navigate the platform, and the approach to providing ‘fast-paced’ micro content keeps people engaged with what’s trending, celebrity news and what’s next all in one place.
What is UI design?
The term UI stands for user interface. Unlike UX, which can be associated with both physical and digital products, UI is solely a digital term. A user interface is the point of interaction between the user and a digital platform or product, for example the touchscreen on your tablet. UI design considers the interactivity of a product by focusing on the look and the feel in addition to the navigation of the product. UI designers look at elements such as:
- Colour schemes
UI designers are similar to graphic designers. They have to consider the overall design of a product so the interface is attractive and and visually enticing for users. They have to ensure that all elements of the interface design fit the purpose and the theme of the product or application. Think about all the things you like about using your IPhone or Android, and how it makes you feel when you use it. That is a great UI at work.
Good examples of UI design:
If you have ever used the self-service touchscreen to make your order in McDonald’s, this is a great example of UI at its best. From the imagery to the spacing, every element of the platform is designed to make ordering food easy and efficient. The size of the screen itself allows various options to be shown at once, and gives the consumer a sense of control over their purchase as they tap the products that they want to order themselves instead of ordering at the till. People can take more time to consider what they would like to purchase compared to ordering with a queue hanging behind them. The self-service process provides a seamless ordering experience from start to finish.
The Airbnb website and app is another brilliant example of UI design in action. It’s a straightforward platform that allows people to search accommodation straight from the front page. The interface is designed to be conversational with questions such as ‘what can we help you find, Elaine?’, which creates a more personal experience for the user and inadvertently directs them to start planning their stay. The platform encourages communication with the process of connecting hosts of the properties listed with travelers, and providing reviews so people can make informed decisions without having to leave the platform once. The booking process is lighthearted, approachable and easy to use all round.
UX design and UI design go hand in hand to create a great product. UX design is about the overall feel of the product and how this highlights value to the user. UI design is about how the product’s interfaces look visually and function in response to the user. A great product will use both approaches to ensure the design is fit for purpose and generates a response in its users.
What is UX writing?
UX writing refers to writing for the user experience. UX writers produce the words you read and hear when using a digital product, and can often be confused with copywriting. Copywriting has more flexibility when creating content, where UX writing needs to be clear and concise in order to guide the user through the experience. Copywriters write for marketing purposes, whereas UX writers solely focus on writing for the user experience, not to market the product that they’re writing for.
Although UX writing is a relatively new term, it is common for employers to ask for this experience when applying for writing-based and content creation jobs. It’s always important to note that copywriting and UX writing do not have the same functions. UX writing is about content strategy, and copywriting is about attracting attention. Job descriptions can often be confusing if they require both, so it would be helpful for both you and your employer to clarify what type of writing is needed for the writing role.
T K Williams-Nelson