Good UI doesn’t necessarily equal good UX!

Updated: Nov 20, 2018

A major shift in the digital landscape is happening and an increasing number of companies are focusing on their users’ digital experiences.

The basic premise of user-centric design is that users should be understood and their needs should drive the design behind a digital product. This sounds so simple and almost obvious, right? Wrong!

This major shift has mostly taken place in the last few years. Those who have perfected their users’ digital experiences know that users should have simple, intuitive interactions with a website or digital product. A beautiful user interface may catch a user’s attention initially but if a website is not usable this can quickly lead to frustration and abandonment.

Did you know that ESPN’s revenues increased by 35% when they incorporated user feedback into their website redesign? A 35% revenue increase is almost unthinkable and says a lot about the power of user-centric design. A caveat: even though your digital product or website’s interface should focus on usability, an eye-catching interface is extremely important too. Why? It’s been widely known for quite a while that it takes only around 50 milliseconds for a user to form an opinion on your website just on the basis of its looks. We’ve always been told not to judge a book by its cover, but this statistic shows that this quick snap-judgment is essentially automatic.

What are the benefits of user-centric design?

Higher conversion rates. Lower drop rates. Overall pleasant experiences for your users. The possibilities are endless.

The return on investment for every dollar put into improving a user’s experience is between $10 and $100. When users have a great experience, they are far more likely to recommend a product or review it favourably.

Great user experiences also increase the chances of customer conversion. For an e-commerce business, this can be the difference between low and high profitability. These are incredible benefits for digital platforms, considering how competitive the digital space has become.

What does user-centric design really mean?

Essentially, this design process focuses on nailing down key factors about a product’s users, testing this information and designing a product that is intuitive and easy to use. This process includes conducting research to figure out who your users are, when they’d be using your product, their goals and how your product could help them reach these goals.

Once the product is designed, usability testing is key. It usually takes various iterations to uncover a majority of common frustrations. Usability testing is also a great way to see what aspects of a redesign do or don’t work. It would be a shame to put a lot of time and effort into launching a redesign only to find that some unknown feature is frustrating your users.

As a designer, it is impossible to look at a product from an unbiased, uninformed view. Having people who are unfamiliar with a digital product test its usability is the most valuable way to see if an experience is intuitive.

The information uncovered by various user research methods is extremely valuable and saves a ton of time, resources and money in the long run.

For example: if your product is a news app, what are some key insights that would keep users coming back? Presumably, you’d like to be at the top of a customer's mind when they want to know what’s going on in the world. Are they more interested in emerging trends and advancements? Politics? Sports? Are there particular circumstances in which people use mobile apps for news consumption which no other product accommodates? Who is most likely consuming the news through a mobile application and how much time would they spend using it? Would they benefit from quick and fast summaries of top news highlights or are they looking for long, detailed accounts of world events?

Assumptions can answer all these questions, but the assumptions won’t help you design an app that people will actually use to meet their goals. All this information is extremely valuable and will be the difference between an app people use daily and an app people use once and then forget about, only to delete it after several months of non-use.

So what should you focus on? A great user experience or a beautiful user interface?

The answer is definitely both! In order to stand out in today’s competitive digital space, you have to be a book with an eye-catching cover and attention keeping content. It’s important that users have a visually pleasing experience to draw in their attention initially. The way you keep users engaged past the point of initial interest and make them returning customers is by providing a user experience optimised for usability.

Did you know that 88% of users are unlikely to return to a site after a bad experience? We’re lucky enough in this day and age to have the tools and resources to prevent that. Investing in user-centric design is extremely beneficial and will benefit both you and your users!


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