UX Vs. UI: How They Work Together In Web Design
As a small business owner, you put a lot of time and effort into running your company. Most owners have multiple areas of responsibility, too: professional development, accounting, management, strategy, sales, marketing, and even customer service.
With the growing number of people who research products and services online, your website deserves as much attention as every other critical area of your business.
Partnering with an agency or a freelance designer is a great way to save time and effort while creating the website experience your customers need. But how do you know if all of the important aspects of business web design will be included, and your potential partner has those skills?
You need to learn about two important web design specialties: UX and UI design. They sound similar but don’t mistake them for the same thing. They’re unique and contribute to different elements to the overall design – and to how your website moves customers through your sales funnel.
In this post, you’re going to learn how UX and UI work together in web design, the top reasons to invest in these types of design, and best practices that relate to a successful business website.
Let’s dive in!
How UX and UI Work Together in Web Design
For most small business owners, your website is a digital portfolio that tells more about your business, your company’s values and views, and your products or services.
But did you know that a good website design also contributes to 75% of your website’s credibility? That’s why it’s important to have at least a basic understanding of UX and UI design, so you know how they work in tandem to ensure your website is driving your business goals. The last thing you want is for your site to suffer from web design mistakes that hurt sales (read The Bad Website Checklist to find out!).
First things first: let’s understand the meaning of these two acronyms and how they relate to your business website.
- UX stands for User Experience: This area of web design weaves critical analysis and logic to understand and plan for a user’s interaction with products, systems, and services. It includes usability, design, navigation, and impression. Simply put, it’s about creating a great web design. UX design is like the blueprint of a house: it plans how to help people get in and out, and from one room to the next.
- UI stands for User Interface: It’s all the little meeting places between a user and a computer program, in this case, your website. The interface is a set of commands or menus that help a user communicate with the program. UI design determines how easily and intuitively a person can do what they need to do with your site. UI design is like the furnishings and paint and little details that evoke the mood of a home.
Both UX and UI are coherent design disciplines with a similar focus, which pave the way for a fantastic end-product. It wouldn’t be wrong to state that UX and UI are complementary aspects of web design, with one being incomplete without the other.
When it comes to their differences, it’s important to project these disciplines as separate organizational roles. While UX is more of a data-driven projection of how the customer is expected to feel when on your website, UI takes the design patterns and even the minutest of details into consideration.
Plus, UI design is about making the layout delightful and enjoyable, whereas UX design concerns ease of usage. UX is more of a concept or rather a feeling that promises seamlessness, responsiveness, and the overall premise of the website. On the other hand, UI comprises elements, tools, technical tidbits, and digital interfaces directly associated with the design process.
If you’re a visual learner, take a look at this image that shows the differences between UX and UI design:
Top Reasons to Invest in UX Design
The post-pandemic era might just be the ideal time to invest in UX design. Visitors and prospective customers pay close attention to user-friendly websites, and Google’s recent algorithm updates have been heavily focused on UX design ranking signals. Your site’s user experience officially impacts where you sit in the search results.
Here are the top five reasons to invest in UX design:
- Improve the customer experience: The right UX design is all about anticipating your users’ needs and wants, then helping them easily move through your website toward an ultimate goal. An excellent UX design encourages extensive interaction with your business through suggested next steps, call-to-action (CTA) buttons, plus survey or newsletter signup prompts.
- Decrease bounce rate: When the immediate result of landing on your website is a strong UX design with a clear path to find relevant information, visitors are more likely to stick around on your site which means a lower bounce rate.
- Drive eCommerce sales: For an eCommerce website, a strong UX design can result in fewer instances of cart abandonment, thereby leading to an increased number of purchases. Believe it or not, a responsive and customer-centric UX design actually pushes conversions and sales figures up by 400%! A web design agency can build you a high-quality eCommerce website, or you can choose an eCommerce platform like Shopify or Wix that allows some flexibility to customize your design and boost sales.
- Cut customer service costs: An efficient UX layout can save a massive amount of money on customer service when people can find answers to their questions with ease and don’t need to contact the company via forms, chats, calls, emails, or social media. If the website is interactive and easy to use, paths to information and processes will feel self-explanatory.
- Improve ranking signals: User experience has evolved into a vital ranking signal. With Google valuing mobile-friendly design and page load speeds as vital cogs in the ranking wheel, there is no choice but to incorporate UX design as a priority in your SEO and business growth strategies.
UX Best Practices for Website Owners
UX design is essentially building a home for your content. You have to plan for the right number of rooms, doors, and windows before you can start building it!
- Always start a website redesign project by mapping out what content you have and what content you need. The content should guide the information architecture – you don’t want to just pick a design and then try to make your content fit into awkward places! If a website redesign is on your mind, start by mapping out ideas based on the content flow. Assess the existing and planned content before envisioning a working UX prototype for where it will all go. A content-centric approach takes care of the page transitions and overall flow of the website.
- A good way to approach a UX strategy for your website is to know your users’ goals. Why did they come to your website, what do they need to be able to do, and how can you help them quickly accomplish it? For instance, you could conduct phone or chatbot surveys, or create a pop-up survey on your website. That way you can interact with engaged users, and collect their feedback with ease.
- Good UX design is about creating a positive outcome, and it all comes down to usability. A good UX strategy might mean having to let go of certain superfluous design elements to accommodate ease, speed, and simplicity. More often than not, this approach also takes the audience base into consideration. With the positive outcome being the essence of any UX design, your focus should be on easier decision-making and faster navigation.
- Don’t ask too much upfront in your website’s lead forms! Each field a user needs to enter is a small barrier to conversion because it requires effort and a willingness to share personal details. Try to pare down form submissions, CTAs, and similar elements, especially if you are starting out. The more typing and sharing a person needs to do, the more annoying the process becomes. A good UX design is about asking only for the basic details required to start a conversation with your customer.
Get even more UX design tips! Check out Website Navigation: UX Design Best Practices.
Top Reasons to Invest in UI Design
User Interface (UI) design is the bridge between visitors and your website, as it contains the basic design elements that help users navigate your site and make decisions. Here are three main reasons to invest in UI design:
- Build a brand identity: UI is the choice of colour, button style, and typography, so a good UI design speaks volumes about your brand! Your website’s UI should instantly evoke your company’s tone, culture, values, and more.
- Convert visitors into customers: As mentioned, UI sets the tone. The wrong UI can prevent conversions whereas the ideal UI will put people in the mood to convert – make contact, download content, or make a purchase. Brands with welcoming or stimulating UI designs resonate better with visitors and see a higher number of conversions.
- Increase customer retention: In addition to attracting more customers to the website, a proactive UI design also helps a brand to better retain clients. A good user interface combines page elements that facilitate a pleasing or otherwise positive subconscious emotional reaction, which leads to repeat visits.
UI Best Practices for Website Owners
While UX creates a home for your content, UI design is all about painting, decorating, and filling the space up with relevant resources. This way, UI design builds on the plan laid out by the UX by making the home aesthetically appealing. It also makes the visit more welcoming, productive, and enjoyable for your guests.
- Always map out the steps toward conversion clearly before you start to design or redesign your website, to plan for easy navigation at any stage of the user journey. This approach is equally important for eCommerce or B2B businesses because it’s about moving the customers organically down the sales funnel through enticing content and navigational options.
- Nothing works better for UI designers (or anyone at your company who is creating visual content) than to have a brand strategy including brand identity guidelines. This approach helps you create consistent designs. An on-fleek UI design layout should extend beyond landing pages to interior pages, blog post templates, and other website elements. It helps to achieve a consistent, on-brand look and feel on every page, whether it’s a primary page, product detail, or a custom landing page for digital ads.
- Plan UI design for shorter attention spans. With an average attention span of 8 seconds, modern users tend to scan content. Therefore, the majority of website content you create is scanned and not read. This in turn calls for the inclusion of simplistic design elements to guide the person scanning: intuitive scrolling vs. clicking options, minimal interfaces, clearer headlines, and well-defined CTAs.
- A reliable UI design approach is to stay away from flashy images, videos, and components that can slow down the page loading speeds. As much as fads and thrills might excite you, simplicity is always a win in UI design – and your SEO.
- When it comes to UI design, experimental strategies can end up backfiring. Your customers and regular visitors are familiar with a set pattern of CTAs, navigations, and menu styles used across every website they use in a day. Unless you really want to reinvent the wheel to demonstrate your brand’s disruptive way of thinking, there’s no value in readjusting the set pieces. Any changes or quirky additions to the norm might effectively kill the seamlessness of the process, and cost you a conversion.
Bonus tip: To reach a wider audience and increase brand trust, it’s important to take care of differently-abled customers who need to use your website. A good designer or web design agency will help you prioritize accessible design. But if you’re trying to update your website yourself, you can still boost your accessibility!
For example, website accessibility solutions like accessiBe can make your website ADA compliant and accessibility without sacrificing your website’s design. Its interface enables users with visual impairments to adjust the design and UI of your website according to their needs, meeting international compliance standards.
See It in Action: UX and UI Working Together
Ready to see how UX and UI design work together in tandem on a business website? That’s exactly what we do here at Forge and Smith – help small business owners achieve a usable site that drives conversions through web design.
Here are three of our best examples of strong UX and UI design working in harmony:
Naturally:Wood took a massive amount of content from two websites and brought it all under one site while delivering an intuitive UI and easily browsable experience.
Softlanding took a highly complex product, with formerly cumbersome and off-putting menus, and created a clear structure. It communicates its vast scope of technical work in an accessible way.
Envisio is another complex, niche product that asked for a strong UX and UI to make it clear who they are, what they do, and how it benefits customers in order to drive conversions.
In a Word
UX and UI are different and highly specialized roles associated with website design. You can’t assume every web designer is equally skilled in both areas – but now that you understand them, you can easily check out their work and ask questions!
Remember that despite the extremely nuanced differences between the two disciplines, brands need to approach them in cohesion to make the most of any given strategy. If you are starting out with a new business website, it is even more important to draw distinctions between user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design to ensure that you’ve planned for both.
Val Razo is a freelance SMM consultant with over 6 years of social media marketing experience. Currently, Val finds Instagram to be a powerful marketing tool for businesses of all sizes and niches, so she’s also happy to write for top-notch blogs and share her Instagram tips. To read more articles from Val, follow her on Twitter.