User Experience Vs User Interface Design for Websites

Peter A. Liefer II | Posted: July 27th, 2020 | Updated: July 26th, 2022

The terms UX (User Experience) and UI (User Interface) are sometimes thought to be the same thing. However, these terms have differences, divided in their focus on interfaces versus interactions.

Both UI and UX work together and are key to a product or service success on a web site. You can’t have a truly effective web design without both design disciplines.

User interface design

UI design focuses on the function of elements needed to allow the user to communicate and interact with your website.

A UI designer decides which screens the website will show, what precisely will be on each screen and how it looks. They also decide what the user can click on and what happens when they do so, plus many other details of the user interface.

It is the UI designer’s responsibility that the system has acceptable usability – it can do what is needed and is easy to use.

UI includes the aesthetic design, the look and feel, and the presentation visual elements. This is the GUI (Graphical User Interface) on a computer monitor. There are navigation bars, arrows, buttons, and many others that are objects that convey information and represent actions that can be taken by the user.

UI design uses graphical images that will often give you clues on how to interact with them. A trash can to indicate deleting a file, a disc to indicate storage, or a magnifying glass for a search function. These are interface controls most everyone is familiar with.

An interaction requires the user to employ perceptual, motor, and cognitive abilities as they view, manipulate, and interpret information on a website. A UI designer must have an understanding of how people operate when viewing a GUI. For example, users read from left to right and from top to the bottom or how they make decisions.

Think about Facebook, a huge web application; it has multiple interactions depending on what you click on, and depending on what you’re doing.

Whether you are uploading a photo or posting something on the wall or leaving a comment or clicking the like button, there are multiple interactions that go on within the web application. The skills of a UI or UX designer depend on understanding different flows on the page and from page to page from different interactions.

Importance of User Interface Design

User interface design is important because a well-designed UI anticipates user preferences and make it easier for them to use. Interfaces that are too complicated or confusing will drive site visitors away.

If the UI delivers the results user are looking for in a consistent way, this helps with user retention. They will keep coming back knowing the system works effortlessly.

User Experience Design

UX Design is concerned with the overall feel of the experience, how effective and pleasurable a website is to actually use. For example, for a retail website, this is how easy it is to find and actually buy your products online.

User Experience design has to have an understanding of users, what they need, what they value, their abilities, and their limitations. UX design ensures that users will find value in what is being offered.

UX designers act as advocates for their users. They do research on and test various design solutions making sure the website is as easy to use as possible and actually solves a problem for the users.

Attracting and Engaging Users

The correct application of user experience design depends on understanding what will work for the users. When a new user visits a website, the first few steps and interactions are critical. The first impression of the user interface and design will govern whether they will continue browsing or simply leave.

Engaging the users, even more, is the second most critical step. The UX design should keep users interested in digging further into your website without making it too difficult for them to navigate.

Elements of a great user experience

There are six basic requirements for there to be a meaningful and valuable user experience. Basic UX design needs information to be:

1. Useful: Your content should be original and fulfill a need
2. Usable: Site must be easy to use
3. Desirable: Image, identity, brand, and other design elements are used to evoke emotion and appreciation
4. Findable: Content needs to be navigable and locatable onsite and offsite
5. Accessible: Content needs to be accessible to people with disabilities
6. Credible: Users must trust and believe what you tell them

Best practices for UX Design for web sites

Focus on User Experience

It is best to make the experience of your website be a memorable one. Content is important; however, users will often forget a lot of what they read but will remember how the felt visiting your website.

Use a combination of quality, enticing graphics, the layout, text, and interactive elements to give the user a great experience. Just presenting tons of information without visual and interactive assets will not evoke the emotional responses needed to make the experience stand out.

Make everything simple and clear

It only takes a few seconds for your site visitors to know if your website has something they are looking for. Make it very clear what you are offering and what action you want them to take. Make the CTA or important button easy to see and interact with.

You can always work to make your website easier to use. Do some A-B testing to see which interface element gets the best results. For simplicity don’t show all the extra functionality. Design for the average user and make further data discoverable if needed.

Don’t reinvent user interface elements

Many of the design elements are common on many websites. By being too creative with new ideas for UI patterns, users may have to take more time to understand what they mean. A familiar-looking interface with standard objects located in common places makes your site more usable.

It is good to be creative, but usability must be first. Focus on the layout and usability first, and when they are mastered, then add creative elements. Strike a balance between usability and creativity. There are many standardized patterns people are accustomed to, don’t make it harder for them to navigate your website just to look cool.

Use the power of UX Design and UI Design

While everyone seems to want to emphasize that UX and UI are different, which technically they are said to be, the two go together and align in different places. Essentially it is really a partnership, one without the other will not provide the power to succeed that your website needs.