Ok, so you’ve probably heard these terms, or you may not have at all.
Usually, when you do hear them, it’s when you’re talking to web designers/developers/marketers, etc., and then they give a long-winded description of what they both are.
I’m going to try and give a layman’s version of both, why they’re essential if you want your site or app to succeed, all while trying to not sound like a tosspot.
Let’s hit it in three layers.
You have your code, that’s the thing that’s the core of it all, that’s your site, your minimum viable product if you will.
UX (User Experience Design) optimises the journey for it for its’ intended use. Will the customer know what to do when they land, will the buttons take you to the right place, etc. It’s the mechanics behind the customer journey. Code is great as a skeleton, but without adding the vital organs to give it life and the brains to survive/thrive, it won’t. It’s part competitor analysis, part customer analysis, and part content development. It makes sure the interaction is clear and achieves its’ purpose. On a basic level, you’re matching the business goals with the user’s needs.
UI is the lipstick, powder, and paint. It delivers upon the interactivity, brings design to the table, branding and all of that other stuff that makes the site make you go “wow!”. All the fancy animation, sliders, etc., are the responsibility of the UI guys and gals. They’ll also make sure that it works on different resolution screens, optimises it for mobile, etc.
You will find that there is a little bit of crossover, and some of the job descriptions you see floating around reflect that and what I’ve posted above isn’t hard and fast, but purely to give a clearer idea of what they both are, and whey they need to be a consideration when launching a new site or product.
If you don’t have that resource in-house, you can hire UX/UI specialist to do it for you, and if the site/app is really that crucial to your plans, then it’s worth spending the money to make sure it has every chance to succeed. When you’re only talking about £250+ per day for a UX or UI specialist to check it over, it becomes a no-brainer.
A good adage to sum up the difference between the two is lent by Helga Moreno who says, “Something that looks great but is difficult to use is exemplary of great UI and poor UX. While Something very usable that looks terrible is exemplary of great UX and poor UI.”
Hopefully, that’s made things clearer for all (without sounding like a tosspot)!
Kris Jones is Head of Sales & Marketing at Innovify.com, a product foundry, startup/scale up accelerator and supplier of web development services/UX/UI teams that are certified Agile/Scrum technicians of the highest order.