3 Key Differences Between UX And UI Designs

Your company website is a critical part of your online marketing, sales, and customer service efforts. You have likely invested a lot of resources into attracting new leads to your website to nurture them through the sales funnel. However, all of your efforts will be for naught if your user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) are poor. But before you can focus on your UX and UI designs, you need to know the differences between the two. This applies whether you’re building a website or an app.

What Is User Experience (UX) Design?

UX design is often mistaken for UI design because of how related they are to one another (in some cases, they can even overlap), but they are referring to different things. The UX design refers to the user’s experience interacting with the website or app, which includes the usability, pleasure, and ease of use. Essentially, the function of the website or app depends on the UX design. It’s the skeleton or foundation on which the UI is built. The process of designing the UX involves identifying user needs or pain points and drawing up a rough prototype that is validated or invalidated via testing.

Factors To Consider When Creating UX Design

To create an effective UX design, you will need to do the following:

  • Know Your Users – If you don’t know who your users are, then exactly who are you building your website or app for? You need to know your audience to determine what purpose your website or app should achieve.
  • Know Your App’s Purpose – Because the function of the website or app is dependent on the UX design, you will need to identify what the ultimate purpose of your website or app is. Consider what your users want to achieve when using your website or app, how many steps it will take to achieve that, and how you can make the experience of achieving that as quick, smooth, and enjoyable as possible.
  • Ask Permission – If you want to send push notifications, offer location-based services, offer social media-based integrations, or want to contact the user, you will need to ask their permission. These permission notifications need to pop up on your website or app when the user is about to use that feature.
  • Don’t Sacrifice Function For Design – The function of your website or app should always be your number one priority. If you lose functionality as a result of prioritizing the aesthetic (such as the layout and the fonts you use), your users won’t be able to achieve what they want using your site or app (or it will be more difficult for them to do so).
  • Be Consistent – Your website or app needs to be consistent throughout. This doesn’t just refer to the aesthetic (although this is important as well — you don’t want users to mistakenly think they’ve wandered off to a different website because your web pages look so different from one another), it also refers to functionality. For example, if your name and logo at the top of your site redirects users back to your homepage on some pages but to your contact page on others, it will confuse your users. Users that are confused are going to be unhappy with their experience.
  • Make It Simple – The last thing you want is a website or app that’s overly complex to navigate or use, like, an app that has way too many buttons that are all different colors. Additionally, not everybody is tech savvy — you want to make sure that anyone can use it. The more user-friendly it is, the happier your users will be. Keep it simple so that your website or app is easy to use.

What Is User Interface (UI) Design?

While the UX design focuses on establishing the function of the website or app, the UI design involves the overall aesthetic look. For example, the visual layout of the app, the color scheme of the website, and the typography used for either, are all elements of the UI design. Essentially, the UI is anything that the user can interact with on your website or app.

Factors To Consider When Creating UI Design

Consider these factors when designing your website or app’s UI:

  • Put Emphasis On The Information That You Want To Stand Out – You want to emphasize the most important information on each page. This is done via the placement, size, font, and color of the text you choose on every page.
  • Consider The Alignment – If possible, keep your content to as few alignment lines as possible. The fewer alignment lines you have, the cleaner your page will look. For example, if you center all of your text, it will have way too many alignment lines and it will look cluttered. Aligning your headers, sub headers, body text, and more gives it a more aesthetically pleasing appearance. Try to keep it to just a few different alignment lines.
  • Pay Attention To Details – Small details matter to the look of your website or app, such as the size of your text compared to the titles you use, the placement of your CTA buttons, the use of bold or italicized fonts, or even the amount (or lack thereof) of negative space. The attention to details such as these will allow you to guide the user’s attention to where you want it.

 1. UX Focuses On Functionality While UI Focuses On Aesthetics

The website or app being developed has to be based on a need that’s not being met. What other purpose is there for developing it otherwise? To pinpoint this need, which is what the function of the site or app has to be based on, you will have to perform a competitive analysis as well as perform in-depth research into your audience by developing buyer personas. This will allow you to develop a minimum viable product that’s validated via testing throughout the website or app’s life cycle.

The UX of this product consists of the user flows and wireframes that you will need to prototype and test. Once this is done, it must be made visually pleasing, which is what the role of the UI is for. Essentially, the UX focuses on the website or app’s functionality, while the UI focuses on its aesthetics. However, the UI design isn’t just about making the website or app look pretty — the choices that are made when designing the UI are very much based on clear reasons that are specific to your buyer personas.

2. UX Helps Users Achieve Goals While UI Makes Emotional Connections

The UX of your app or website is what allows users to achieve a specific need or goal. The UI is what provides the app or website with its personality. It helps to draw users and keep them engaged by creating emotional connections. Think of the UX as the engine of the car that helps you get to where you need to go, while the UI is the car’s body and seat that attracts you and allows you to drive in comfort.  The UI is especially important because if it’s particularly effective, users may forgive some of the shortcomings of your UX (if there are any).

3. UX Covers Products, Interfaces, And Services while UI Only Covers Interfaces

UX design isn’t just for apps and websites. It’s used by businesses to develop products and services outside the web as well. This is because the UX design process is all about figuring out who your users are, what their needs/goals are, and how the function of your product/service can help to achieve those needs/goals. However, UI design only covers interfaces — although, to be fair, this doesn’t limit UI design to just websites and apps. Products like phones, vending machines, refrigerators, car dashboards, and more all use graphic interfaces these days.

Common Mistakes When Creating UX And UI Designs

The following are a few mistakes that tend to be common with UX and UI designs that you’ll want to be sure to avoid:

Unintuitive Navigation

Users want to be able to find what they are looking for or be able to explore your website with ease. If your site’s navigation is unintuitive, it will leave them frustrated. For example, if you use drop down menus for your navigation bar that contain links to every single page on your site will only make it more difficult to find what they’re looking for. Instead, use your navigation bar to link to the main sections of your site (and clearly name what those sections are) instead of every single page. Of course, the opposite is true too. You don’t want it to be difficult for users to find where your site’s links are.

Designing For Yourself

Whether it’s your UX design or your UI design, keep your specific users in mind. It’s their experience that you should be worried about, not your own. It’s why creating your buyer personas and doing your research before you build a prototype is so important.

Compromising Usability For Creativity

Don’t mistake the word “design” for creativity. While you might be tempted to implement a few creative flourishes throughout both your website and your app, you should always consider how it might affect the usability of the product. For example, a flashy homepage full of videos, animations, or music that plays automatically might slow down its loading speed.

Difficult Layout

A good layout is an important part of a successful UI design. It’s also why it’s so important that your website is designed with mobile devices in mind — a site that’s not mobile-friendly (or built using a responsive design) won’t be properly displayed on mobile devices. These are some of the common mistakes made when laying out a website or app:

Cluttered

You should keep your layout somewhat simple. It can be tempting to add as many elements and features to one page as possible, but doing so can be distracting or overwhelming to the user. For example, if you have a web page that is packed full of text, images, and links, the user may not see your CTA because there’s just too much going on.

Hard-To-Read Fonts

Choosing the right fonts to use is more important than you might think. Different fonts help convey different tones and the wrong font could end up being inconsistent with your brand. Fonts that are too flamboyant may be difficult to read or could detract from the content. You should also be wary about using more than two font types — and if you do, that the spacing between is adequate. In many cases, text can start to look cluttered when different fonts are used and there’s not enough space between one font and the other (such as between the header and the body text).

Poor Contrast

Contrast is what helps make the content on your website or app easy to read. For example, you want your headers to be bigger than your body text so that they stand out. You want the colors of your text to be different than the background they’re on (and you’ll want to avoid light text on a light background or dark text on a dark background). You should even have some contrast as far as alignment lines are concerned. If every single element of a webpage is as a single alignment line, it can make the page look unbalanced.

Examples Of Good UX And UI Designs

There are lots of examples of apps and websites that have stellar UX and UI designs. The following are a few examples worth checking out in particular:

  • Google

Google’s function is easily identifiable: to help users find what they’re looking for on the Internet. Their UI is kept incredibly simple — there’s Google’s famous logo in the direct center of the page, a search bar right below it, and two options to click on: Google Search and I’m Feeling Lucky. There are a few links in smaller font in the top corners as well, but other than that, everything is left white. There’s barely anything to distract users from the main function.

  • Paypal

The function of paypal is to allow users to send and receive money. A confusing design could result in the wrong amounts being sent to the wrong people, so Paypal has kept their site and their app very simple. Their app has the user’s balance clearly displayed at the top, some information about recent activity in the middle, and two blue buttons at the bottom to send or request money.

  • MailChimp

MailChimp is a great example of a UI design that helps connect users on an emotional level. They are aware that email marketing isn’t the most “fun” topic or task, which is why they created a chimp mascot that shows up throughout their interface to add bits of humor to the proceedings along with high fives that make the user experience more fun.

Other websites and apps that have excellent UX and UI designs worth checking out include Amazon, Starbucks, Airbnb, Dropbox, and Slack.

Examples Of Bad UX And UI Designs

While looking into a few websites and apps with great UX and UI designs will certainly help inspire and inform you as you begin developing your own website or app, it’s also worth checking out a few bad UX and UI designs as well. The following are a couple of examples of poor UX and UI designs:

  • Pacific Northwest X-Ray Inc

The multi-colored background of the Pacific Northwest X-Ray website is a huge distraction from the content. Additionally, they’ve chosen several different colors for their text that disappears into the already distracting background due to a lack of contrast. The lines of alignment are all over the place as well, which makes the page look cluttered even though everything is basically centered in the middle.

  • Gates N Fences

The Gates N Fences site is basically just a wall of text and links. The text is incredibly small and on first glance it looks like there might be thousands of links, making navigation extremely difficult. You just have no idea where the site wants you to look.

  • Great Dreams

There’s a lot wrong with the UX and UI of the Great Dreams site. The aesthetic is downright ugly, it’s difficult to determine what the function of the site is on first glance, and, all of the text blends into the dark purple background.

UX And UI Work Together

UX design and UI design are two different things; however, they depend on each other. While a good UX design is required to ensure functionality, the ability to connect to users on an emotional level requires a good UI design. You really do need  a good UX design and UI design to build a website or app that has a functional and appealing interface.

Do you need help with UX and UI designs? Get in touch with our team of experts!