We live in an era of personalized marketing. Brands today are working to personalize your experiences with them–even down to the way you move around and interact with their websites. Developing a strategy for this personalized digital experience is also known as UX and UI planning.
Throughout our experience designing and developing hundreds of websites, we have found that the best UX/UI plans are made when content and design teams work hand in hand. This has influenced our unique approach to UX and UI here at MESH that consists of bringing a designer and a writer together throughout the whole process. Since the two work so closely together, we felt it was important to talk through not only what UX and UI are, but why they are important in bringing to life a personalized digital brand experience.
Defining UX & UI
UX and UI are short for user experience and user interface–essentially the content with which users will interact with a brand’s website and how a user will experience the site and move from one page to another.
UX focuses on the content that influences the journey throughout the site or the app. This entails movement throughout the site, how long users need to scroll, how many clicks from point A to point B. How do we get the user from the home page to the contact page or purchase page? How do we get someone to add a product to their cart and check out? For example, how does an HVAC company encourage visitors to request a quote for their services? It’s all about solving the user’s problem while making the experience efficient and effective.
Meanwhile, UI is the user interface design, which determines the interface of the site. Our goal is to make the site experience intuitive–highly usable and efficient for the target user. This refers to the shapes of buttons, the kind of typeface used, color and contrast, readability, the common elements that perform predictably–all that make the experience more enjoyable while being consistent with the overall brand.
Working in Harmony
As you can see in the definitions of UX and UI, sites that incorporate this type of problem solving have specific intentions for every feature and element. It starts with a true understanding of who is using the site. Good UX/UI demonstrates empathy by showing that we listen to the human problems and frustrations behind the user’s interaction with the site. From there, we make intentional decisions in the strategy to eliminate those specific problems.
Here are a few examples of how we have brought UX and UI together to create outstanding digital brand experiences:
- Community Coffee: The user’s journey was top of mind the entire planning process. For example, when hovering over the cart icon at checkout – should it have a motion and catch your eye? What button styles will work best? For visual aesthetics – are we overlaying text on images?
- Mullin Landscape – this ADDY award-winning site focuses on information hierarchy–knowing which content is going to be most relevant to the user. Someone who lands on the Mullin Landscape site is likely there for one of two reasons–for commercial information or residential landscape information. By asking the user to choose their path on the home page, we’re making it very easy for them to find what they are looking for, guiding them through the experience and funneling them to a place that makes them a warm lead.
- Blue Bayou Dixie Landin – we designed the theme park’s site experience so that it is very easy to find what you’re looking for; we incorporated cheerful microcopy (little copy on buttons) to help guide newcomers through the site, taking into consideration all the facts they will be looking for, making the process more efficient and more effective.
Should UX or UI necessarily come first in the process? As you can see, in our experience, they should be considered in tandem with one another. Having a team writer and designer working side-by-side results in the content lining up with the design from the start, resulting in a much smoother process for the agency and the client.
By bringing together a writer and a designer to form a UX/UI strategy, you’ll notice how the content and design align with each other from the start. Navigation is clear and useful. Information is easier to find and understand. The look and feel of the site is not jumbled–it’s a joy. Customers are contacting you in higher volume because you’ve given them exactly what they’re looking for.