Why Does UX/UI Matter?
If you ask a UX/UI designer, of course, they will answer that it is the most important factor on a website. Just like if you ask someone who works in content, they will argue that Content is King! For someone who works in SEO, they will contend that SEO is not dead and they will probably have the stats to back it up. But if we are honest, we all know that each of these specialties can’t operate in a vacuum. In order to attract the audience that we want and give them the best experience, all parts have to work together. So, let’s have a look at why UX/UI matters.
What is the big deal about UX?
Let’s have a look at what UX is. Wikipedia calls User Experience Design “the process of enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty by improving the usability, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the customer and the product.” Tomer Sharon, a Senior UX Researcher at Google, says that “UX design is the art and science of generating positive emotions among people who interact with products or services.” UX Design includes every interaction between the person using your product and your product. It also makes one very important point. puts the focus on the User. What do they need? How would you like them to feel when visiting the site? Do they want to be entertained? Do they want just the facts? UX is the set with the task of providing your audience with what they need. If they need to be educated, how can we best provide them the information they need? Do we even know what they need? How can we find out exactly what they are looking for? So as you can see, the process can be complicated. But I can tell you that the deeper you go into these questions, the easier the rest of the work will be.
Where does UI fit in?
Once the UX design is finished in wireframes or mockups, we then start with the UI or User Interface design. While UX may decide that we need a sign-up form, UI will decide how that form will look on the page. That is where it gets to be tricky. UI is charged with the task of delivering the function in the most pleasing way possible. To be honest, this is often where projects get off track. Because it starts to be based on preferences. The client may have one preference. The designer may have another. The audience or end user may have another, but there isn’t a clear way to know that. So the UI designer has to rely on the assumption that was made in the UX stage. The more clarity that the UX design provides, the easier this process becomes. You determined that your ideal audience is 55-65 years old? Then let’s make sure the fonts are big enough to read. The standard dark blue for hyperlinks will work better than the hot pink. We also want to make sure there is adequate white space with prominent buttons. As you can see by now, these are all based on the initial decisions we made when we talked about UX design.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
With UX/UI in mind, we can start to see why it matters. If we can see how our target audience makes decisions, we can start to craft the experience for them. If your audience is looking for excitement, it influences the images and the color palette. A calmer look might suit an older audience better. The closer we can anticipate our audience, the more accurately we can anticipate their decision-making process. So if we ever get to the point where we are facing information overwhelm and not being able to make a decision, we have a point of reference: the ultimate customer profile. We can always look to the user profile for some clarity. But it isn’t always as easy as that.
I Just Like What I Like
It may seem easy to say that we can always come back to the user, but in reality, they make decisions every day without knowing why. How often have you heard, “I will know it when I see it” or “It just looks ‘right’ to me”. These all come from the fact that there are psychological factors in our decision-making process. Why are some brands popular? Why is one website seen as more credible than another, even when the content is essentially the same? Why do I open one email, but ignore another? We might not be able to define it, but I can guarantee that the UX/UI designer can. The study of UX/UI is deeply committed to learning those answers. Just like when we go to a Dr. with a problem, all we can see are the symptoms (ie. we aren’t getting traffic, people come to the website, but leave after one page, some of the pages are cluttered and confusing to navigate, etc.). We don’t need to know all the ‘whys’. But we are glad that someone does. We will be able to make changes, based on his educated observations and opinions.
Why does UX/UI matter? It matters, because decisions matter. If we can’t influence our audience to make decisions (sign-up for a newsletter, purchase an app, click through to our blog) then our efforts are in vain. UX/UI helps us examine our goals, our presentation, and our audience. Without it, we will always struggle to attract our customers and provide them with the easiest path to making the decisions that will benefit them the most. So the next time you look at your favorite website, have a look at the color choices, the layout, the overall feel. But also take a moment to go deeper and see if you can see the decisions they are helping you to make. Even if you aren’t conscious of them.