UI stands for User Interface, while UX stands for User Experience. They sound pretty similar but are actually quite different and it’s important to understand why and how they differ. A User Interface is, quite simply, what you interact with on a website – from buttons to text boxes to proceeding through various steps to accomplish something. User Experience is the idea that UI is only one part of this equation, and equally important to great interface is the overall experience the user has while navigating your website. If no one enjoys using your website, you may not be very successful, even if your website looks great and you have incredible products or services.
As an example, think of shopping online for a particular product. When you browse to the website of your choosing, you expect certain things to be there and expect the site to work in a particular way. You would probably expect there to be a search bar at the top of the site somewhere or some kind of menu that you could navigate through to find a particular category. Making this process as seamless as possible creates a great user experience. This could mean meeting expectations (having the price displayed next to the product, relevant information and a picture of the product) or even including additional features your users would like (more information about the product, more pictures of the product, etc.).
Let’s fast forward a bit now. You’ve found the product you were looking for and have added it your cart (another assumed feature). Now take a look at the cart and the cart’s features. Does the cart denote the quantity of your product? The price? Any discounts? A place to enter a promotion coupon code? What if the cart had all your items listed but did not have a way to delete an item you realized you no longer wanted? What if you don’t want to buy the product now but want to save it for later? These are the types of functionalities that can really affect your users, in either a positive or negative way, depending on the interaction.
So now you’ve dealt with the cart and have begun the checkout process. What is the first step? Do you enter billing information first or shipping information? Are you prompted to enter your address twice, once for each step? The checkout process is the most common place where user interaction falls apart. Users typically leave a site without buying the items in their cart when they are unhappy with the checkout process. Sure, sometimes it’s because the user just had a change of heart, but many times it is something that happens (or doesn’t happen) in the checkout process – whether it’s a frustration with entering their address twice, not being able to enter a promotional code when they want to or some other issue.
You can see now why User Experience is as important as, or possibly even more important than, making your website look nice. All websites have an intended user or demographic they would like to market to, and if your site is easy to use and functional, it makes it that much easier. If it’s not easy to use, it’s like running with weights attached to your back. No matter how much effort you put in, you will always be bogged down. The good news is that website developers now understand more about what makes a great User Experience than they ever have before and are using that knowledge to create better and more intuitive user experiences every day.
If you’re looking to ensure your website has both UI and UX, contact our team of developers today!
Jeff Ginsburg is a User Interface Developer at Miles Technologies.