Experiencing Interfaces: How User Interfaces and User Experiences Connect
User interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design is becoming ever more important in today’s world of marketing due to the online nature of modern communication. As important as it is for your app or website to be functional, having a sleek and attractive look matters just as much. The interconnectedness between design and computer science shines through when discussing UI/UX design.
Though they’re often used interchangeably, UI and UX stand for different things: UI meaning “user interface” and UX meaning “user experience.” UI refers to the literal design of the app or website, while UX is the justification for making those specific design choices. Every UI/UX process features a ton of user testing and planning to ensure that the user experience is what we want it to be. If the interfacing fails, then the experience will too.
I like to use the term “justification” to describe the connection between UI and UX design: If the look of the app isn’t appealing, that justifies the choice of users to not use that particular app, and look for something else.
When working on UI/UX design, thinking in terms of both good design and what users need to take away from the experience is difficult. Planning tools like wireframes and prototyping are incredibly helpful, but what is even more important is to understand the audience you are creating for. Great design caters to what the audience wants, and makes it easy and accessible for them to use, further enhancing the partnership between interface and experience.
UI/UX is a fascinating aspect of design because of the intersection between the art of designing and science, which may range from computer science to psychology. Tools such as Figma and Adobe XD bridge the gap in an ambitious way, making UI/UX design much more accessible to new designers who are unfamiliar with the challenges that come with it, without the need to learn much coding. These tools make working within a specific rule set and limited stylesheet much easier than with traditional coding, and they empower design teams to work more efficiently on the way that the user experiences the UI design. (The coding tends to come in more heavily later on.)
For companies looking to get into media that includes UI/UX design, one of the most beneficial things that designers can do is show them something that works—even if it is limited. Being able to view and interact with a preliminary design through a prototype (made within one of the applications I mentioned previously) creates a far different experience for those who want to invest in your product.
The human brain likes interaction, and it loves visual references for how things work, instead of getting an answer like, “Pretend this button here leads to this page.” The world is built on interactions large and small, and UI/UX design simply mimics the way we experience everything around us.