With all of the technological advancement of today’s world, people’s lives are inundated with gadgets and apps. It’s not enough to create a new app; to stand out from the rest, your app has to be created with the user in mind right from the beginning. The same can be said for any product or service – the concept of human-centered design has caught on in the last few years. Which is why a great User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) have become even more important.
It’s also important not to confuse the two. A great UI is part of a great UX, but there is more to a great UX than simply having a great UI. UX is the entire pie, while UI is but one piece of said pie. If you’re somewhat new to app development (or really, any product development), you’re probably familiar with the concept of UI, but you may be less so with UX.
User Experience (UX)
When you’re developing a new app (or any product, really), it’s absolutely key that you approach the process with a clear understanding of your potential users – what problem you’re going to solve for them, what they need, what they like, what their abilities and limitations are – before you actually start development. That’s UX in a nutshell. It’s designing your application with the experience of the user always at top of mind, in order to achieve maximum user satisfaction.
Peter Morville developed a “User Experience Honeycomb” that touches on the important aspects of UX: Useful, Usable, Findable, Credible, Accessible, Desirable, and Valuable. For those looking to gain more knowledge about UX Design, his article is a great place to start. Key questions to ask as you design your app:
1. Is it useful and desirable? Does it serve a function? How does it make my users’ lives easier/better?
2. Is it usable and accessible? Is its design and UI easy to understand and use for all potential users – even ones who may have disabilities (such as those who have difficulty using their hands/fingers) or vision impairment?
3. Is it findable and credible? Can my potential users find my app so they can download and use it? Can my user find what they need to do within the app itself? Have I designed my app to the absolute best quality so that users will have faith and trust in my company that we can deliver a quality experience?
4. What is the value my app brings to my users?
User Interface (UI)
Knowing your user is key to being able to develop a UI that will function in a way that meets your users’ needs and leaves them feeling satisfied when they use your app. Your app’s UI is certainly the most visible and tangible aspect of the user’s experience of your app, as it’s what the user sees and what allows the user to interact with your app. An app’s user interface is both the back-end (the actual coding) as well as the front-end (the visual elements) combined, and both are equally important. Not only do you need to code your UI so that it is simple, easy, and efficient to use, you have to pay attention to how it looks. Every visual element plays a part in your app’s UI. Take time to study color theory as well as other apps similar to yours that are popular; choose each aspect of your app’s visual representation carefully.
Why are UX and UI Important?
UX and UI are key components to ensuring customer satisfaction – happy users are satisfied customers, and that means good reviews and stronger sales. Today’s users have nearly endless choices when it comes to the apps and products they use; to stand out, you have to offer the best user experience possible. A good UX will give your users confidence in your app and your company. This is even more important if you’re a new company starting out; first impressions really do matter. The key takeaway is that a positive or negative user experience can make or break your app.
There are many resources out there for those wanting to learn more about UX / UI design. UX Matters is an online community with numerous articles and information about UX. UX Collective offers curated stories from around the web about UX and UX design, and UX Magazine is a great resource for up-to-date articles on topics of concern in the UX field.