Comparing User Experience vs. User Interface

For businesses and entrepreneurs who are preparing to develop an app for the first time, there are a lot of terminologies to learn and understand. There is an increasing demand for enhanced app experiences that speak to the personalized needs of the audience.

App users are incredibly discerning, and they expect the utmost in interactivity. An app needs to be completely user-friendly to achieve that. For example, if you’re working on an app you’ll have to consider creating an experience that’s simple regarding the user experience, but also feels rich and fulfilling in its design and layout.

It’s difficult to balance these ideas but to begin it’s valuable to have an understanding of user experience versus the user interface. These are two terms that play a major role in everything that happens during app development, but they’re often incorrectly used interchangeably.

User interface or UI is not the same as user experience, also called UI. While there are differences in the finished product, the skills that go into development in terms of both of these objectives are similar, which may be why there’s confusion.

What is User Experience?

User experience or UX refers to a development process requiring that user satisfaction is the focus.

The objective of developing for user experience is to provide a product that’s not only usable, and accessible but is also enjoyable for the user.

The user experience of a businesses app plays a central role in the perception the user has not just of the app itself, but of the company and the brand surrounding it.

What Determines User Experience?

What are the things during development that are integral to user experience? The entire overarching idea of the user experience is based on what the targeted user needs, and also wants.

  • Does the audience find that the app has a purpose or fill a need for them? Even if a business develops a great app, if it doesn’t have a definable purpose and solve a problem or fill a need, it doesn’t have a strong user experience.
  • How does the user achieve their goals through the use of the app? What does it require for them to fulfill their needs with its use?
  • Can users have a sense of trust in the product? If trust is broken with an app, then the user experience is diminished, or maybe even destroyed.
  • Finally, it has to be not only need-fulfilling but fulfill a want or a preference of the user.

What is the User Interface?

User interface is commonly perceived as being all about things like the buttons and gestures in an app, but it is more than that. User interface isn’t strictly about the appearance of a product. It’s about how it works.

For an app to have a strong user interface, there has to be a logical flow. A user has to open an app and feel like they inherently understand how to get from Point A to Point B.

Users need to be able to look at the app, theoretically the first time, and get what it’s going to take for them to perform the actions they want, and ultimately achieve their goals for using it.

The premise of designing for user interface should be simplicity, efficiency and intuitive flow.

When there is design for UI being done, developers have to think about the emotional experience the user will take away.

There sometimes tends to be more of a focus on creating a UI that is aesthetically pleasing, but often it’s better to go for simplicity above all else.

What Determines User Interface?

Core elements of a good user interface include:

  • Things need to be clear and to the point, with no room for confusion. Users shouldn’t require an instruction manual to understand how to use an app.
  • Users also want to feel like what they’re looking at is inherently familiar to them.
  • There should be consistency across an application. Users need to feel like they understand what’s happening as they move from one area of an app to another, and this is achieved through consistency.

In some ways when you’re comparing user experience and user interface you could say that user experience is the sum of everything that goes into app development. It relates to everything a user thinks, feels, sees and does when using an app.

The user interface is a smaller and more technical component of that. Yes, there are emotional components to UI such as familiarity, but it does also involve aesthetics like button design.

For an app to be great, it needs to be able to integrate best practices for UI, and ultimately that will be one part of an excellent UX.

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