User Experience vs. User Interface: What’s The Difference?

Viki Pandit

When you’re talking about web design, it’s important to remember the terms “user experience” and “user interface” aren’t interchangeable. But you’re not alone if you don’t understand the difference.

The user interface is what you see on a website, and user experience is what you don’t. An attractive website might be described as having a good interface, but if it loads slowly or isn’t accessible to users on various devices, it’s providing bad user experience. Building a strong, effective user interface is the starting point for creating an excellent user experience.

To ensure your website offers a good user experience, look at the interface elements early on in the process so you don’t have to make a lot of changes once the site is live. For example, for a popular product-based website, we don’t want to lead with information “about the company” or testimonials — we want quick, easy access to the products, or maybe a searchable interface right at the top. But for a product that’s not as widely recognized, testimonials become important.

8 Tips For Creating a Good User Experience

There is a lot to consider in the web design process if you want to create both an attractive user interface and a good user experience. When you’re building a new website, you should consult with your designer and keep these tips in mind.

  • Avoid the desktop-first approach. With the wide variety of mobile devices in use today, it’s important to think in terms of responsive design from the start. A mobile-first approach means that you start with a product that runs the same on every device. Then, you can add extra assets that work on a desktop — instead of starting with a desktop approach and hiding assets on the mobile version.
  • Build-in features that keep users informed about what’s happening. For example, if you have a page searching the database while the user looks at a blank screen, the user will have a bad experience. Instead, provide a graphic that shows how much wait time is left.
  • Use slideshows sparingly. It’s easy to forget that responsive websites display slideshows on screens of all sizes. While slideshows can be immensely helpful on a desktop by making a big impression and promoting important services, they don’t look great on a smaller screen. When users come to a slideshow on a smaller screen, they generally skip it, which takes away from the user experience and also degrades website performance.
  • Speed up your website using techniques such as minifying code, optimizing images and caching. Make sure your website loads quickly. Compressing HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and images can drastically speed up the time it takes for a user to load a page. Plus, Google search results place high importance on fast-loading and optimized websites.
  • Ensure links are properly spaced on all screens. On a desktop or laptop, users are often using a mouse that makes it easier to click on links that are close to each other. But on small devices, it becomes a struggle. Make sure all clickable links are properly spaced for mobile devices.
  • Let people make purchases without having to register. On e-commerce sites, allowing people to buy without creating an account or officially registering can make for more streamlined user experience and lead to higher sales.
  • Ensure your forms work correctly on all devices. I have faced so many problems trying to complete simple registration forms on a tablet or a smartphone. Those problems frustrate users and may cause them to give up, so each submits error could lead to a lost customer.
  • Create features that work on screens of all sizes. Some features don’t work well on small screens and a quick fix is to hide those features when the website is viewed from a small screen. That’s a serious mistake. A lot of people use multiple devices to access content. Denying them a feature on one of the devices can lead to bad user experience.

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