In part one of the series, “Say It Loud and Proud,” we gifted you valuable insight pertaining to the importance of Brand Strategy and the role it plays in presenting your business online. Evolving upon that we hit a fairly new acronym in the game, but a concept that has existed since the first websites went live on the world wide web: User Interface and User Experience, also referred to as UI/UX.
Picture the UI/UX of a website like the buying cycle you learned about in Marketing or Sales 101. The consumer goes through a number of steps before committing to a purchase. They are most commonly:
- Need Recognition
- Information Gathering
- Evaluation of Options
- Purchase Decision
- Post Purchase Behavior (the last step depends on your business model)
How does this correlate to a website’s design or layout? Great question! The same process occurs when someone visits your website regardless of whether you use your website simply for marketing your product and service with the goal of getting a “lead,” or if your website is the transactional vehicle of your business like an eCommerce website such as Amazon.com. In order to fully grasp the two elements that are lumped together as one primary piece of a website or digital business, let’s give them the individual attention they deserve.
Although it is the latter part of the acronym, User Experience (UX) is often the first step in the planning process for a website redesign. UX can, but not always, consist of product presentation, traffic flow or path to conversion, up-sell opportunities, call outs or CTA’s to motivate an action, landing pages, and funneling. The UX of a website is, in essence, the framework or blueprint for what action opportunities and experiences a user will encounter on their visit to a website or app while focusing very specifically on the “give” and the “get”; meaning, what do we give the user at this point to satisfy their needs to get what we want to satisfy our goals? Typically, the User Interface (UI) can now offer the creative folks the ability to put something beautiful to that architected plan.
UI’s role in the process is like a children’s coloring book. You have the outlines of a picture and some catchy words that rhyme, but now you have to make it beautiful and attractive. The UI of a website becomes the cosmetic compliment to the planning and strategy process that helps to facilitate the buying process journey outlined above. Leveraging images, videos, animation, or simply brand color reinforcement help to shape the expectation and value the visitor gains from evaluating your website and business as a viable solution for their needs. We’ve all encountered a website at some point in our lives that was just downright terrible. Remember that site that used blue text with underlines for the main body copy, so you couldn’t tell if it was a hyperlink or just text? That’s a UI failure. Ever visit a website that has buttons in the navigation that are red, and the text on those buttons is a half shade darker red, making it next to impossible to read? That’s a UI failure. On the positive side, notice how websites that are designed mobile responsive today are using the three horizontal line button as a universal “menu” or navigation list button, that’s a UI homerun. The logic that goes into making sure a site is visually attractive, must also follow fundamental usability metrics to ensure creativity doesn’t overpower common sense.
As you can see, it is certainly understandable that the two are often confused as one action or part of a project. When laid out to showcase the unique responsibilities that UI and UX have individually, you now have greater exposure to the depth in which great web designers (and developers) have had to embrace a much more systematic process to planning a design for web. The next time you embark on a site redesign project for your business you should expect to see a UI/UX strategy process as part of the proposal and you’ll feel great knowing what will go into that piece of the puzzle. If you are talking to a team that doesn’t know what UI/UX is for a website redesign…run. Run as far as you can, or call LaunchDM. Calling LaunchDM is easier, but it doesn’t burn as many calories.