The user interface is the discipline that studies how man relates to a machine. Therefore, this relationship does not occur naturally, but each of us needs a tool to “talk” to a machine. Whether it’s a keyboard, a mouse, or the home page of a website, the interface is the link between man and machine. The user interface is the discipline that analyzes, studies, and regulates how the interface can be improved and made more effective.
Our discourse on creativity and design led us to analyze brand identity, all the classic (offline) marketing and communication parts, and the digital marketing and communication parts, passing through the website and growth-driven design.
When combined, we have seen how all these elements constitute a brand’s communication ecosystem and create a series of contact points (touchpoints) that facilitate the relationship between the company and the customer. How each customer relates to each of these touchpoints defines the positioning of the brand and, consequently, the brand experience.
What is User Interface (UI)? What is User Experience (UX)? What is the difference between UI and UX?
User interface (UI): definition
In a digital world, the UI (User Interface) is the discipline that regulates the man-machine relationship by creating a system that makes this interaction possible. This system is the interface, which, to give a trivial example, is what we see when we open a website or an app.
There are three types of interfaces:
- Code interface
- Graphic interface
- Voice interface.
Today we are only talking about the graphic (aesthetic) side: no software project or functionality, but only what we can see and interact with. A button, the menu, a banner. If I enter a site and can’t find the menu, we have a UI or user interface problem.
The goal of the user interface is undoubtedly that of simplifying the use of the digital tool as much as possible (any software, site, app, or the BMW on-board computer menu), so much so that the final goal should be to abolish each instruction manual: as if to say, when I open an interface, I immediately understand what I have to do.
Mr. Steve Krug, one of the first to address the UI theme, wrote a book about it called “Don’t Make Me Think.” This speaks volumes about what the user interface is really for.
User experience (UX): definition
The user experience, on the other hand, is a whole other thing. Or rather, it is also a user interface but tends to be much more.
The customer experience goes beyond the site and digital assets and is determined by any point of contact, even physical, real, and human. It’s all about the experience: from the site to the app to the shop to the packaging, from the TV commercial to the salesman who gives me a bad answer when I call the store closest to my home, without forgetting the use of the product.
The customer experience (seen from the customer’s side, is called brand experience) is pervasive across the entire communication ecosystem and beyond experience experiences, therefore, on all fronts. And this is precisely the reason why customer experience today is one of the most important issues that a brand should take care of:
- It isn’t easy to build.
- It isn’t easy to maintain and organize.
- It is so widespread across countless touchpoints that it is very easy to screw it up.
And recovering it is even more complicated.
What is the difference between UX and UI?
More than differences, I would speak of overlaps. We understood that UI and UX are, in fact, two different things but, all in all, not completely unrelated to each other. The user experience is very broad and includes various factors and touchpoints, including the user interface. So UI is a subset of UX. And so far, so good.
So if, on the one hand, the UI is essential for the correct functioning of the asset to which it is applied (for example, the website), on the other hand, it could be the cause of a bad user experience. This is exactly the point. The difference between UX and UI is that they are two things that partially depend on each other.
Perhaps the differences are more apparent if we see the tasks of the two different types of designers:
What does a UI designer do?
It takes care of the interface and manages the navigation paths for the objectives. Some basic principles regulate the user interface, which tends to deal with the following:
- Where to put the content
- How to manage navigation
- Where to place the menu
- choose colors, fonts, buttons, and CTAs
- give feedback to the user to understand if he is following the right path.
What does a UX designer do?
Those who design the customer experience tend to study the customer journey, the touchpoints the brand makes available to its users, and the relationships between them. It must:
- Know the buyer personas and how they relate to the company and products.
- Studying the customer journey and making an ecosystem of tools available to users through which to interface at every stage
- Create wireframes and prototypes to propose to UI designers.
How to Improve the User Interface
If you want your site to achieve the goals you set for it, improving the user interface, or UI, becomes a fundamental activity.
The user interface of your website is the first impact that visitors will have on your site, so it is important that it is simple to navigate, intuitive, engaging, and designed to make the path from entry to exit as short as possible, i.e., when the user has completed the goal that the site requires.
But how can you improve the user interface to increase conversions? Let’s see some ideas.
Let’s start with the basics. The first thing we need to look at to improve the site’s UI is the navigation, which must be simple and, above all, studied so visitors can easily find what they are looking for. The navigation structure must be consistent on all pages, and in the first place, the links to the contents that we consider most strategic for our objectives must be visible.
A clean and tidy layout can make all the difference. An easy-to-read and easy-to-navigate design helps highlight important content. There’s no point in exaggerating with images, special effects, or information that could confuse visitors. We want a simple site that gives the right information at the right time.
Colors can have a great impact on the user interface because they not only help to capture the attention of visitors but, if used wisely, they can also help navigation if, for example, we associate a particular action with each color (go back, button “send,” or other). To keep an eye on brand identity, the colors chosen must be consistent with brand guidelines.
Today, “mobile first” has almost become “mobile only,” so it is useless to talk about how important the mobile experience is. The user interface must therefore be optimized for mobile devices. Therefore, the site must be easy to navigate and read on mobile devices, and the buttons and functions must be easily accessible on every page.
CTAs, or calls to action, are a fundamental element in a site’s UI because they are those buttons that directly ask users to perform a certain action. They must be easy to find and have a clear copy that identifies users without possibly misunderstanding how to perform a specific action.
Offer an engaging user experience.
Ultimately, the user interface, quality content, and organized processes help build a memorable user experience. Polls, quizzes, and games stimulate visitor engagement and keep visitors focused.