Combining UX and UI to Build More Meaningful Digital Experiences
We’ve heard a lot about User Experience (UX) over the past few years. Where it was once acceptable to build a flashy website and hope for the best, we’ve evolved. Today the way a user interacts with a site or product and the entire digital journey is one of the most powerful elements of design.
UX covers a range of digital elements like usability, utility, ease of use, and website performance. It ensures they work harmoniously to provide a seamless experience. Since a website or app is usually the first chance for people to interact with a brand, UX is critical for brands wanting to gain more customers.
Consider companies like Apple, Tesla, Uber, and Adobe. They’re all major brands renowned for their UX. They believe in the importance of the digital experience to customer engagement. Knowing how their sites represent their brand, they prioritise UX and the customer journey – from the first touchpoint to the last.
While UX is often used interchangeably with User Interface (UI), the two ideas are actually quite different. When it comes to defining the difference between UX and UI, it’s worth thinking of them like this:
- User Experience (UX) relates to the overall experience users have while interacting with a product. Some of the steps needed for a meaningful digital experience include research, testing, accurate implementation, and reporting.
- User Interface (UI) relates to the visual design elements that allow people to interact with a product. It includes colours, shapes and fonts, supported by concepts such brand design and consistency, graphics and animation, and other similar forms of visual interactions.
When in doubt, clarify your purpose
For companies in tech, first impressions matter. It’s the difference between engaging your audience upon arrival or repelling them with a high bounce rate. To get it right, you need a thoughtful strategy and intentional execution.
Before you sit down to design, it’s important to understand the business and the complexity of the services or products offered. Then examine your core values and brand purpose to define the ideal visitor experience. This is the first step towards unlocking the strategy for your digital journey and it’s a process that needs to happen before designers start to visualise all the different ways a website can come to life.
The terms UX and UI don’t work without the other. When they don’t work in harmony, the customer journey suffers. This is where communication and clear strategy is so important – especially when there are multiple voices in the mix. Strategists, designers, and developers must communicate their ideas clearly to ensure everyone is on the same page.
A constant state of change
Since every digital experience is different, every brand has their own ideas and every customer their own needs. It means the process of UX and UI design is dynamic and in a constant state of change. Every customer journey needs to be customised to the brand and its digital environment. There’s simply no room for a cookie-cutter approach with design.
UX should always come first. It is, after all, the very foundation of why you are designing – to delight users. After formulating a strategy, and once you are certain the UX aligns with both the purpose of the brand and the actual needs of the customer, it’s only then you can move on to the UI phase. By following this method, designers can maintain consistency and open up a world of visual UI possibilities.
Why every brand should care about the digital experience
Every brand has a digital presence, whether it’s a simple website or a fully-interactive, custom mobile app. Some even have both. Whether you’re in the tech space or not, a website is a piece of tech that’s usually the first point of contact for customers searching for your products and services.
For those actively working in the world of tech, there are more reasons to strive for a seamless digital presence. Combining well-planned UX with well-designed UI not only results in a better overall customer experience, it also helps build brand credibility. A better digital experience helps generate better leads, drives more sales, and encourages visitors to keep coming back to your website. To say nothing of what it does for customer engagement, cross-selling, and advocacy.
Think of brands like Apple, Tesla and Uber who are renowned for the quality of their digital experience. Not to mention the likes of Google, Spotify and Netflix! These superstars are great inspiration when you want to excel at the digital game and throw shade on your competition with a brilliant digital experience. Combining the fundamentals of UX with a well-balanced UI helps ensure your brand experience is delivered exactly as you intended.
Nailing UX and UI is critical. It all starts with a plan. Remember, you can’t build UI without a well-defined strategy for UX, so take your time to map out the customer journey before you start thinking about the perfect digital experience and hit the design tools.
These are the things we think about every day at Hunt + Hawk. In fact, we believe your site is your best digital sales asset! So if you’ve got any questions about how to combine UX and UI in a meaningful way that delights your audience, shoot us an email at at firstname.lastname@example.org, or add us to your inbox by subscribing for more awesome ideas and follow the team at Hunt & Hawk on LinkedIn. We live for these conversations.