User Interface design (UI) and User Experience design (UX) are two elements of any product, website or app that work closely together but aren’t the same. Constantly evolving, UI and UX aren’t modern-day concepts. Whether it was Walt Disney instructing his ‘Imagineers’ to put themselves in the audience’s shoes and take in the color schemes, designs and implement ways to improve their lives, or Apple trying to outdo IBM’s ThinkPad in 1992 with the Apple Newton – UI and UX have been around for close to a century, only that the terms weren’t coined until much later.
The term UI eventually came into existence when computing started to grow in the market back in the 1950s. Since then, the term has gone beyond computing, involving the same concept in ergonomics and psychology too. As for UX and UX design, American cognitive scientist Donald Norman coined the term while working at Apple in the 1990s. He joined the team as a User Experience Architect – the first person ever to have ‘UX’ in their title. Eventually, he came up with the terms and went on to document every quality and feature associated with UX.
Albeit separate, UI and UX overlap each other sharing a symbiotic relationship throughout – the former is a tool that allows a user to interact with the product and the latter is a feeling (or experience) that a user would get out of these interactions with the product.
With so many myths floating around about how “UI=UX”, let’s take a look at some of these exceptionally popular myths and why they need to be debunked.
Myth 1: UI and UX are the same
Truth: Perhaps the common link between them is the fact that users are involved. Experts attest that UI and UX involve completely different skill sets. A UI designer focuses on elements such as information design, brand design, icons, typography, buttons, color schemes, white spaces imagery, et al. Whereas, a UX designer would focus on the conceptual aspects and process of these designs, with more involvement in empathizing with a user and and ensuring their interaction is unfettered and easy. In other words, UX is a broader term while UI is simply a part of it.
Myth 2: UI and UX are for the digital world
Truth: UI is strictly meant for the digital world. It mandates a user’s interaction with an online product through devices such as a laptop, mobile or tablet, wherein the product is a website or an app. UX, on the other hand, is more human-centric – focusing on the end-users interaction with a product or system. It isn’t driven by technology but by empathy, with the UX designer bearing in mind a user’s wants and needs.
Myth 3: UI and UX are optional
Truth: When it comes to the development of a product, UI and UX are essentials. A good user interface and user experience can help drive revenue growth, studies show. Therefore, it should be considered as a crucial investment since it involves a lot of time in terms of development and research while contributing to the overall success of your product. With customers gaining positive experiences from your product, this gradually results in conversions and a bigger ROI. In other words, UI and UX should be looked at as insurance that requires little to no investment moving forward.
Myth 4: UI first, UX last
Truth: Developing a product or system involves a great deal of work and research. This would mean developing many prototypes and going through several iterations. This process itself is a part of UX. The user’s experience will be included in every area of development, right from the product’s nascent stage to the final output. UI, on the other hand, comes into the picture at the end, adding in visual designs and micro-interactions. The research helps guide the UI designer towards making the product’s features attractive, visually appealing and aesthetically pleasing long after it has fulfilled its actual purpose.
UI and UX do go hand-in-hand, work closely, but are far from being the same thing. The two need to be perfectly aligned – otherwise, you would be left with a brilliant concept but a clunky interface or an easy-to-navigate interface but visually poor design.
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