Bokaap Design founder and creative director Niraali Parekh on why the effectiveness of your app, product or website is so dependent on UX/UI for its efficiency, appeal—and success
Even before the pandemic led to the migration of nearly every kind of business to the digital space, our smartphones had already become an indispensable part of our lives. We used it for shopping, for booking cabs, for paying our bills, for banking transactions, for gaming and a multitude of other operations. All of this convenience, the user-friendly nature of the experience, and the sleek, attractive format in which it is presented, is the combined outcome of UX/UI designers and engineers executing the design.
They are buzzwords in modern tech-speak—words casually used, sometimes interchangeably and generally without clear knowledge of what the abbreviations mean. So, what exactly is UX/UI, and why is it so very important, especially for businesses exploring ways to grow?
Decoding the Experience
The main purpose of UX/UI is to simplify complexities in products. One is all about the experience and the user’s journey, and the other is about the look and feel. Both are interconnected and work best when they work together.
Think of it in terms of the architecture of a house. UX, or User Experience, is like laying out the floor plan for a home. It involves understanding the homeowner, their habits and personalities, figuring out a neat, easy-to-navigate layout, the number of rooms needed, the function of each space and other practical considerations. UI, or User Interface, is like applying the final touches once the four walls, ceilings and all rooms have been built, that aesthetic element to make the house look good and give it a personality. In tech parlance, that means the look and feel of a website, app or tech product. This is when the product comes to life even before it is coded.
In the process of building a house, everyone has their part to play and the house most definitely cannot be built without the architect. Likewise, when building a digital product, the UX/UI designer is responsible for setting the stage for the engineers to build on. Intrinsic to this process is design thinking. The UX/UI designer leverages the design thinking approach where innovation and creation are rooted in an in-depth understanding of the users’ end objectives, the parts of the digital experience that engages and frustrates them. And using this information, the designer comes up with creative solutions to optimise the experience and hook the user.
Form Follows Function
To put it simply, UX is research and strategy-driven. In this process, the UX team gets to know the users, their needs, their problems and understands the competition. Using this knowledge, designers then identify opportunities and draw out the product’s ‘floor plan’. Most of all, they simplify just about everything, allowing you to move effortlessly through a website or product. If it’s shopping, for example, the journey would be a breeze right from browsing to adding the product to the cart and making the purchase.
UI design is the process of creating the look and feel of a website or product. Here, the aesthetic details get finalised, including font, colour, illustrations, etc. This comes into play after the UX has been decided, to help draw potential users to that specific business’s platform. UI designers have knowledge of how design elements such as typography, colours, photos or illustrations, (possibly) motion graphics impact the user’s psychology. They ensure that there is a clear and unique visual direction for the product that would set it apart from its competitors and create an emotional hook for the users.
The Benefits of UX/UI for Product Development
Given the tech-dependent world we live in today, and the speed with which businesses are leveraging the digital space to enhance their growth and optimise consumer reach, UX/UI offer several advantages:
- Saves Resources
UX/UI designers understand the user as well as the business goal. Based on their research, they create user journeys and prototypes to validate decisions taken before any feature gets coded. This process not only reduces the cost and time spent on development but also decreases the possibility of product failure.
- User-Focused Design
The primary purpose of the UX/UI design process is to simplify tasks and create an easy navigational experience. Given this focus, user habits and satisfaction are the main priorities, which, in turn, helps cement the reputation of the business and the reliability of the product. And that, inevitably, leads to more business.
- Product Differentiation
Since UX/UI design requires the designers to understand the users, the business and the brand, the outcome ensures that the product design is differentiated from the competition in its look and feel. This provides a much-needed edge over products in a similar segment that may have entered the market without the benefit of UX/UI.
- Retains Users
A better user experience in terms of navigating a website or using a product will keep the users coming back, leading to greater loyalty over time.
UX/UI’s Role in Business Growth
Research conducted by global freelancer-connecting platform Toptal shows that 90% of users will continue shopping because of great UX. A bad experience, on the other hand, will push them away. Difficult-to-navigate apps or sites, difficult-to-conduct searches, content that is too generalised, constant and irritating pop-ups are just some types of ‘bad’ experiences.
First impressions make for lasting ones. And that holds true for your business’s online presence as well. A 2021 research by market analysts TrueList shows that the ROI on UX investments is 9,900% and 90% of users will leave a site solely due to bad design. When users discover your business online, they want to know that they’re putting their trust in a legitimate avenue. Particularly in today’s day and age when there is such a vast proliferation of online scams, it is even more important that you appear authentic. A poorly designed website or tech product can do the exact opposite. A study by BCS attests to this; it was found that 75% of perceived opinion about a website’s reliability and credibility is based on its overall aesthetics.
So, if you aren’t investing time, money and effort into building a well-researched, well-strategised and well-designed digital product or business website, you are going to lose credibility and trust with your audience—not to mention the sales too. Given these facts, UX/UI design’s relevance in a company’s success cannot be overstated and every business must understand the direct impact it can have on the success of their product or service.
The author is the founder of Bokaap Design. Views expressed are personal.