UX-UI as a key differentiator for your brand?
We often hear business leaders talk about being customer-centric and creating a good user experience. But, what is User Experience (UX) design, and how does it help differentiate from the competition? We’ll try and break this down for you to get started.
91social provides IT services to small and medium businesses. But, it is not just another IT services company, we truly believe in turning our clients’ vision into reality. OPDlift, a client of ours, once approached us to help them build a hybrid mobile app, that enables patients to book out-patient consulting services online. The objective is to make the process as pleasant as possible, for both the hospitals and the patients. When we were first told about this vision, we started to think of the application from a user’s perspective, meaning, empathizing with the patient/user and understanding the problems in the current system. This allowed us to provide a feature that allows the user to see the predicted wait time at the hospital, which was as beneficial to the user as booking an online consultation.
While this may seem to be a small value-add to the user, these small experiences are what increase the engagement. Before we talk about the business value of good user experience, let us understand what User Experience(UX) and User Interface(UI) design are at a broad level, and then get a sense of their business value.
User Experience(UX) Design:
User Experience design is a process of designing products(digital or otherwise) in a human-first way, keeping in mind the needs of the user, understanding what they’d like to accomplish using that product, and designing a product usage experience that is simple, emphasizing on getting the job done. The term UX was first coined by cognitive psychologist and designer Don Norman in his book, ‘The design of everyday things’. He defines user experience as:
“User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-users interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”
The goal of user experience design, which is to improve the quality of interactions between a product and its users, can be achieved through a series of steps.
- User research — Being empathetic to the pains and problems of users, with a thorough understanding of the persona of a user, and their needs.
- Information Architecture — Designing the structure of the content in a way that users can easily identify and access the relevant information.
- Interaction Design — Interaction design refers to how a product or service uses texts, colours, and other aides to interact with the user.
- Usability — Usability of a product or service is how user friendly the product is, and how easy is it to navigate the application. A good product is one that requires minimal user training.
- Wireframing — Wireframes are the blueprints of what the actual product would look like. These wireframes can act as a tool to understand how the user would potentially interact with a product. These also help get early feedback from the internal and external stakeholders.
- Visual Design — Visual design is mostly associated with digital products like websites and mobile applications, where usage of the right fonts, colours, images, etc. play a role in providing a pleasant experience to the user.
User Interface(UI) Design:
User Interface design is the process of creating a compelling and intuitive experience for the users through a visual medium. UI design can directly connect with the feelings of a user through the look, feel, and interactivity of the product. Interaction design and visual design discussed in the UX design are a part of UI design. As such, UI design is a subset of UX design, and both go hand-in-hand.
Simplifying UX & UI:
A lot of times, UX and UI are interchangeably used in various contents, partly due to the overlapping goals and responsibilities of the designers. However, to make things simple, we’d like to explain the roles of UX designers and UI designers, through a building construction analogy. Assuming a person would like to have a house constructed, he/she will have to approach an architect, who will then understand the requirements of the customer delving into current and future needs, the customer’s family size, etc., and also take into consideration the available plot size. With all of these details, the architect in-turn would prioritize the requirements of the customer, and develop a detailed design/drawing (read mockup) of the house. As the house gets built, the customer would then engage an interior designer, who designs detailed sketches(front-end) of how the house would look, including the choice of colors, accessories, etc. which makes the house visually appealing.
In the above scenario, I’d consider the architect as the UX designer, who understands the requirements and develops a structure and blueprint of how an object should be designed. Engineers (Software & Civil) are the ones who build the archetype, and interior designers are similar to UI designers, who visually create an appealing feeling to the customer, by choosing the right colors, and placing the right elements in the right positions. In most cases, as with the responsibilities of an architect and interior designer, the responsibilities of UX and UI designers also overlap. However, it must be noted that both the architecture and design must go hand-in-hand, to give the user a functional and delighting product.
The business value of User Experience:
Many organizations understand the importance of creating a good user experience, however, they are skeptical of investing in user experience function, unsure of its returns. A reason that was mostly heard earlier was related to the measurement of the return on investment. That is no longer the case, as usability test results and other metrics are communicating the value of good user experience. Some of the most commonly tracked metrics are customer satisfaction scores, change in sales metrics, increased brand perception, etc.
Good user experience and user interface can go a long way in helping retain customers, and could also turn the customers into loyal advocates for a brand. Thus, investing in good user experience and user interface can help companies have a unique positioning in a crowded competition.
At 91social, we’ve helped our clients develop functional and appealing products, which have increased customer engagement for them . If you’re interested to know more about this, contact us at email@example.com or on +91 95130 07587.