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In the reign of user-centered design, there is no need to justify the importance of UX and UI for the overall success of a website or an app. The debate is still ongoing as to which aspects each of them is responsible for and how to leverage them for better results. In this article, we drive a clear line between the two of them and reveal some of the best-kept secrets of UX and UI design.
UX vs. UI
The two are in fact closely intertwined to offer a smooth and pleasing interaction to users. Yet, it is important to separate functions and responsibilities of UX and UI designers to set clear goals for each professional and optimize the workflow.
What is User Experience Design
UX design is concerned with the overall feel of the product. It makes sure interaction with a product offers a logical flow from one step to another, anticipating user behavior and eliminating any stumbling blocks on the way to the ultimate action. Thus, a UX designer is responsible for developing content strategy, wireframing, prototyping, IA, coordinating with UI designers and developers, user testing.
What is User Interface Design
UI design is concerned with the product layout; in other words, with how the path laid by a UX designer is visually communicated to users. Typical responsibilities of a UX professional include design research, implementation of brand identity into the product, UI prototyping, creating animation, and adapting design to various endpoint devices.
Now that you are familiar with the difference between the two domains, and have possibly found UX and UI professionals to join your development process, make sure they follow these guidelines to drive your product to success.
Secrets to successful UX design
Essential stages to follow:
Identify your target audience and their biggest problem, then see how your product can solve it. Develop a flexible design that would empower users to accomplish more. Use planning tools, including flowcharts, mind maps, and sitemaps for better results.
- Wireframing and Prototyping
Prototypes allow to set clear design goals before the development stage, thus saving plenty of time and effort. There are software-based wireframing and prototyping tools, like OmniGraffle, Balsamiq Mockups, or Mockingbird, to make the process smooth and efficient.
- User Testing and Feedback
User experience research is key to product success, as it allows to gather feedback and implement timely alterations to design. User feedback tools include PollDaddy, Usabilla, as well as remote user-testing services like Feedback Army.
UX design characteristics to pay attention to:
It’s essential to focus on the feelings and emotions your website or app conveys to the user once he opens a page. If there are no feelings involved, users will soon become indifferent towards it. The more emotions you evoke in users, the more engaged and motivated they become to come back and share with friends they feel.
This has to deal with the concept of cognitive load. Simply put, humans memory capacity is limited, and so, the heavier the load, the more likely they are to abandon a task long before the desirable finish line. When designing a pathway, it’s important to eliminate non-essential design elements that could lead a user in the wrong direction. Make sure a UX designer understands what you want to offer and cuts things away until he gets to the heart of your message.
- Scanning Mode
People tend to use websites and apps in a different way than that envisioned by designers. While design is usually based on an assumption that a user is getting familiar with the information carefully, step by step, and than choosing a suitable option for himself, reality is far from that. In majority of cases, users take a quick look at the page, scan bits of the text, and follow the first link that catches their attention or seems to match what they need. How to tame this unfortunate trend? Design for scanning instead of reading. Break up pages into clearly defined areas. Make clickable elements obvious. Prioritize elements and set up a visual hierarchy that guides users to them first.
Effective UI design tips
- 1. One action per screen
A good rule of thumb is that every screen should support only one valuable action. It helps a user feel at ease faster, and can be built upon when necessary. Screens with several actions confuse quickly. If you think there are two important actions on the screen, neither of which can be eliminated, split the screen into two separate ones.
- 2. Offer an intuitive next step
Consider which step should flow naturally from the one a user has already taken, and provide him with a clue as to where head next. Support your users and encourage further interaction. Don't drop a person after they've done what you wanted them to do; offer a natural next step so that they can achieve their goals.
- 3. Subject form to function.
People feel at ease when everything is predictable. In terms of a great design, it means a user should be able to envisage how an endpoint design element will behave at a glance. It’s important that a UI designer follows UX designer’s guidelines and doesn’t overload the basics of interaction with excessive colors or sophisticated fonts.
- 4. Design with consistency
Screen elements should only correlate with each other if their behavior relates to each other. Let elements with similar behavior look similar. However, it is equally important to make unlike elements look different, or inconsistent. Never use the same visual effects for inconsistent elements.
- 5. Don’t abuse color usage
In nature, color changes with light. Similarly, in an interface, it shouldn’t be definite or act as the only differentiator of things. Use it for highlighting or to guide attention. Adjust colors to reading duration and audience’s preferences.
- 6. Pay close attention to the “zero state”
Some UI designers tend to overlook the first point of user interaction with an interface. It shouldn’t appear as a blank canvas, but rather give guidance and support to the user. Once people are familiar with the layout, they are more likely to succeed and thus, enjoy your product.
- 7. Treat text as UI
Draw a reader to the content with a suitable typeface. To achieve this, opt for a typeface that stays cohesive in different sizes and has easily readable letterforms.
- 8. Make design subtle
A successful design is the one that is unnoticed by users. It allows users to pay attention to their needs rather than the interface. A UI designer should think functionality first.
No matter the purpose of your project, UX and UI design are key factors to whether it turns out to be a failure or a success. Done well, they will make your users happy and drive new ones; done poorly, they will discourage them. But equipped with these guidelines and a passionate team of professionals, you are surefire to set the look and feel of your website or app for success.