User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) are important elements that often play a crucial role in making or breaking a product. In this article, let’s talk about what these terms mean, and what role they play in a product.
What is UI and UX
User Interface refers to the design of a product. It dictates the visual aspect of a product- is the product pleasing to a user’s eyes? This once again depends on the colors used and the shape of the product, among other factors. In the context of a mobile application, it can also be extended to whether the text or icons on the screen are easy to read, and in case of icons, whether it is easy to make out what an icon means. Often, this also means that A good UI also means that the various elements on the screen are proportionate and well spaced-out.
Below are screen comparisons from a simple quiz app that I worked on. Think about which one looks more pleasing to look at. That is the difference between a bad and a good user interface.
Often, we find it difficult to identify why a UI looks good or bad, it just does. And that is what user interface professionals are for. These UI designers give the designs for a product, and the developers/manufacturers are expected to follow the guidelines given by the UI designer and come up with the product.
Coming to user experience (UX), it refers to how easy to use a product is. Once, I had a box that would give me a lot of trouble when I wanted to close it. That is bad user experience! Once again, in the context of apps, it refers to how intuitive it is to use an app. Let’s say I want to add a new post on Instagram. As soon as I open Instagram, is it obvious to me how to go about adding a post? If it is, it’s a good user experience. If I have to go hunting through the entire app looking for something as simple as adding a post, it’s frustrating for me, and a bad user experience.
Although UI and UX are closely linked to each other, there might be cases where the user interface is good but not the user experience, and vice versa. For example, the box that I talked about earlier was a really pretty one, so from a UI perspective, it had no issues. But it was a bad experience for me when I used it. On the other hand, it might so happen that some product is really simple to use, but doesn’t look as pretty. For example, as far as my two quiz apps are concerned, they will have the same UX, just different user interfaces. So although the first app had an equally good UX, it had a bad UI.
The Difference that UI/UX Make
There have been several cases when an improved UI/UX led to exponential growth in the sales of products. And this does seem pretty obvious, since prettier things naturally attract more attention. However, it is easy to miss these things when it comes to entirely new ideas. There are people who come up with amazing ideas for apps or products, and thinking that this is a revolutionary idea, launch it for their consumers without the finishing touches from a UI/UX perspective. This does give the product a huge boost in the beginning, since it really is a unique idea. However, these products often don’t live up to their potential, and are just as fast in fading away.
We can look at such examples all around us. Uber was not the first cab booking app, nor was Airbnb the first app of its kind. However, these apps were made so simple to use, so intuitive, so attractive, that they were difficult to resist for anyone. Some of the apps that came before Uber include Taxi Magic (2008) and Lyft (2012). And although Lyft is still hanging in there, Taxi Magic is almost unheard of. Similarly, before Airbnb, there was CouchSurfing.com, which does the exact same thing as Airbnb, but has not been able to come up with a monetization model as good as Airbnb. Also, the number of users in the app also play a role in a good user experience. If I am looking for accommodation, but can’t find any in the area that I want, this is indeed a bad user experience, and can only be fixed if there are users in the area who use the app and offer accommodation.
So this is what UI/UX is and the role it plays in the growth and popularity of a product. Hope you found the article interesting! If you’re following my blog, don’t forget to follow it with email notifications and get an email as soon as I post an article. Also, don’t keep everything to yourself, pass it on- forward this article to everyone you know who will love reading it!