If you’re a busy CMO, Marketing Manager or an entrepreneur wearing multiple hats each day, UX and UI may be the last things on your mind. But we suggest that they deserve your attention. And so does data from a recent Forrester study

According to the survey, “A well-designed user interface could raise your website’s conversion rate by up to a 200%, and a better UX design could yield conversion rates up to 400%.”

If that’s something you can’t afford to pass up, take the time to understand what UX and UI are, and why you need both (even though they’re sometimes in conflict). Only after doing so can you put the necessary changes in place to avoid suffering lost revenue.

UX vs UI

Whether you’re planning a new website or simply starting to look at your site’s design with a critical eye, it’s helpful to know what UX and UI are, as well as how they differ in the website design and development process.

UX, which stands for “user experience,” encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products, according to the Nielsen Norman Group. UI or “user interface,” on the other hand, involves everything designed into an information device with which a person may interact, per TechTarget’s definition. In the context of web design, this means user-facing features like screens, pages, forms, applications or portals.

The distinction between the two is subtle. Ken Norton, a Partner at Google Ventures and an Ex-Product Manager at Google likens it to a restaurant:

“Start with a problem we’d like to solve. UX design is focused on anything that affects the user’s journey to solve that problem, positive or negative, both on-screen and off. UI design is focused on how the product’s surfaces look and function. The user interface is only piece of that journey. I like the restaurant analogy I’ve heard others use: UI is the table, chair, plate, glass, and utensils. UX is everything from the food, to the service, parking, lighting and music.”

Effectively, UX is the “why,” while UI is the “how” of user engagement.

The Conflict Between UX and UI

On a surface level, the benefits of both UX and UI are obvious. It’s clear that both have a role to play in properly engaging website visitors and prospective customers.

In execution, however, conflicts can emerge between these two fields. When the UX isn’t fully fleshed-out, the UI built can come up lacking. Similarly, investing heavily into UX without a corresponding commitment to UI results in an interface that doesn’t do justice to the experience being created.

Continuing with Norton’s restaurant analogy, beautiful china and glassware won’t save a restaurant from bland dishes or a poorly-trained waitstaff. Conversely, even the best servers out there can’t deliver on a restaurant’s value proposition if they aren’t given high quality tools with which to do their job.

As an example, when we were working with Optus Pay – a technology that stores prepaid Visa debit card details for phone or online payments – one of the biggest challenges we encountered was that their existing UX didn’t appropriately convey the cutting-edge nature of their technology. Without this fundamental understanding, the UI in place couldn’t do its job of facilitating potential customer usage.

Revising their UX and redesigning their UI to match – essentially, getting all of the parts of their “restaurant” on the same page – led to an immediate increase in customer fund loading and usage.

Getting UX and UI to Play Nice

Conflicts between UX and UI arise from a number of sources:

  • When both UX and UI designers are involved, they can each favour a different approach for realising the product’s vision.
  • Stakeholders outside the design department – such as developers, product managers or marketers – often have competing opinions about what should be prioritised with UX and UI.
  • If either the UX or UI is underdeveloped, the other will suffer.

Getting the two disciplines to play nice, therefore, requires an investment into the initial development of each – as well as a plan for gaining buy-in from all necessary team members.

Plenty of resources exist online for facilitating these discussions and increasing team engagement. But if you’re still struggling to arrive at a UX and UI that properly support your brand, turning to a trusted advisor like Windsorborn can help.

Call us today for more information on our UX and UI approach – as well as the impact they could have on your business’s bottom line.

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