Creating a website for your business is like creating a digital business card. And a proper design is probably one of the most important elements of your website, A.K.A your business card. It’s your selling point, so it’s essential it works properly, is pleasant to look at, and radiates your business’ personality as well as your own. This article dives deeper into the world of design by focusing on the interplay between the two core elements of software design: UI and UX.
UI/UX: the two core elements of design
Two terms you often come across when talking about (web)design are UI and UX. Two different types of design, but inseparable when it comes to software development. If you’re at least a bit familiar with the wondrous world of software development, you’ve probably encountered the two terms more than once. But what do they stand for?
- UI: User Interface
- UX: User Experience
UI, or User Interface design, focuses on the pleasures for the eye: the front-end design. The colors, shapes, sizes, images, fonts, borders, and all other visible elements you see on a website. UI design is closely related to the concept of graphic design, but with a specialization in software/app/web technology.
UX, or User Experience design, is mainly focused on how users experience the functions of a website: the interaction between human and computer (HCI). A well-working UX design makes sure website visitors are able to navigate through a website as smoothly as possible, with well-functioning menus and links, and a logical hierarchical order of pages.
UX and UI design work together in such a way that the visual (interface) design of, for example, a button on the website contributes to the smoothness of user experience. A well-designed and visually pleasing button motivates visitors to click on it, which should result in a fluid movement towards another page or whatever that button is designed to do. UI and UX design can be done by one designer, while some software companies have two separate designers, both skilled and specialized in one of the two.
The effective interplay of UI/UX
The interaction between UI and UX design is essential for creating a well-functioning and user-centred website. UI can be seen as a basis for UX, as a pleasant look and feel have a direct impact on the way users experience a website or application. A sloppy interface with inconsistencies and misplacements makes it likely users will encounter issues with navigating through your website.
Similarly, UX can perform as a basis for UI, as a strategic wireframe for the technical functionalities of your website functions as a blank canvas for your interface design. You could see it as a coloring book, but very specifically for adults in the software industry. UX design, in this case, is the functional outline of your blank coloring page, forming a wireframe of all content strategies and architectures. While UI design operates as the colored pencils that turn the UX wireframe into a pretty artwork. Keeping that close interplay in mind, it does seem to have its benefits for a designer to be skilled and specialized in both UX and UI design. This way you can already construct a finished image of the end-product in your head before you’ve even started.
On the other hand, having two designers with both their own specialization on one job, can be beneficial for the creative process and flexibility within the entire process. However, this involves a lot of brainstorming and moments of reflection and feedback in order to perfectly align the UI design with the UX design.
Building blocks for a good UI and UX
Both UI and UX design have a step-by-step process of work, from prototyping to the delivery of a successful end-product. Most of the time, both processes are intertwined from the beginning, especially when done by one person.
As UI design is practically a part of the entire UX design process (remember the color book example?), the two practices follow the same road of research, prototyping, testing, and implementation. However, the process of UI design moves to a separate branch during and after wireframing. This is where mockups come into play. The difference between a wireframe and a mockup is about functionality. Whereas wireframes depict the structure and architecture of the strategic performance of a website, mockups present the visual looks of the final product. One could say that mockups are the coloring stage of the entire design process.
The process of software design functions best when done in an agile way of work. Which means there is a continuous loop between the prototyping and testing phase. Once both the designer and the client are happy with the wireframe and mockups, it’s time to actually implement the prototype into the final product. Voilà, there is your app/website and business card that will represent you and your business for the coming years. Important to notice is the fact that the process of UI/UX design is far from over after delivering the end-product. As time changes, technology and trends in design change along. This means that, if you want to keep your client satisfied, you’ll need to make sure your design is always up-to-date with the latest innovations and trends. A successful design process never stops.
UI/UX at Lizard Global
As a digital agency, it’s essential to have designers that know everything about the importance of the interaction between UI and UX design. Our team of visionary UI/UX experts know what they’re doing, and they make sure our clients are never limited in dreaming big. In order to do this, we implement an agile way of prototyping and iterating all our designs, providing the client with enough time and space for testing and reviewing our design drafts.