The terms user interface (UI), user experience (UX), and usability have been gaining quite a bit of attention over the past few years. From large software product companies to independent mobile app developers, there is a new (and now required) focus on these areas. UI/UX and usability are so involved with one another within the user-centered design process that it’s hard to focus on one without involving the others. Let’s begin by breaking each down:
UI – (User Interface) What does your product look like?
When you log on to a website, open an app on your phone, or launch an application on your computer, what do you see? UI is the visual look and aesthetics of the product that you initially see and ultimately engage with. This includes color choices, font type and size, and color schemes.
UX – (User Experience) How does a user feel when interacting with your product?
When you log on to a website, open an app on your phone, or launch an application on your computer, how do you feel? Is it easy to navigate? Are you satisfied with the interaction? A study by the Oxford Journal defines the “goal” of UX or “user experience design in industry is to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty through the utility, ease of use and pleasure provided in the interaction with a product.”
Importance of knowing the difference between UI and UX
The UI and UX of a software product will heavily determine its overall success. If your end user (customer) is not satisfied with the experience or doesn’t understand how to interact with your product, then your UX has failed. If your end user turns away from using your website/software product due to small text, bad font choices, or color scheme, then the UI has failed. If your end user is unable to determine where to go or how to use the interface then the UI and UX have failed. It is only when the UI and UX work seamlessly together that the end user can find value.
Approach to UI/UX Design
The user-centered design process takes the user’s needs into account and keeps them front of mind at every stage of the product lifecycle. So at Eureka, every single team member is responsible for UX at every step of the process. Each person involved, actively works to make the product’s experience the best it can be, allowing us to streamline the process and build user-centered software, more efficiently and effectively.
Collaborative UI/UX (Case Study)
Recently, we partnered with a company to create a new iOS product that manages [what was] a paper-centric and manual process for their customers. When we first discussed this new product idea, they had a high level overview of what the application should do, but were looking for a partner to build out the idea, design, and experience while not distracting their internal development teams from the core product line.
Our first priority was the onboarding experience for new users. The goal was to get new users signed up and using the product through the assistance of a wizard. With each feature/functionality requirement, we discussed, “Why does the user want to do that? How can that be achieved? What’s the best way to accomplish that goal?”
After the initial design, we determined that some significant changes needed to be made. Through user testing and conversations, we realized the onboarding experience seemed infinite, and there was a risk that our client could lose a customer before they even completed the sign up process for the product trial.
We suggested a low commitment/low risk approach to the design in order to not overwhelm the user. We simplified the design and punched-up copy to create a cleaner (less cluttered) screen that was easy to follow. Some previously required elements were now optional which sped up the first interaction. We also created a simple road map where each of the steps appeared at the top of every page to let the user know where they were in the process, as well as the number of pages remaining to complete.
The remainder of the wizard presented choices for the user. By empowering users to make their own decisions, like filling out optional text fields or skipping a step, they were now able to use the product at their own comfort level. “How much time do I want to invest in this new product? How many decisions do I need to make right at this moment? Can I come back to these steps later?” Eureka anticipated feelings the user might experience but may not express.
From sprint planning to daily standups, the Eureka and client teams collaborated multiple times throughout each day. As a result, a working prototype was built within weeks of the project start date, and our client was able to conduct user feedback tests frequently. Following every (two-week) iteration, our client tested to confirm the product was addressing their customers’ needs, if those customers understood how to use it, and if/what help was required. Tests were conducted early and often so that the teams were able to make adjustments to the design without discarding weeks or months of work.
Overall, the collaborative UI/UX approach was a great fit for both Eureka and our client because of the constant communication and each team’s active involvement in the process. The teams worked together to make a highly usable and functional software product that greatly reduced the previously tedious client onboarding process. The end result was a software product with a highly useable UI that gave end users a great product experience.
If you have any questions about your software product’s UI/UX or overall usability, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d love to help.