User Interface and User Experience can be a bit confusing at first, so let’s start way back at the beginning. When it comes to the design, User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) are two of the main ingredients to a successful application or product. Your goal is to have an end result that is a good balance between both UI and UX. But, what exactly are they and how are they different?

UI is the component that people see and interact with in a software application. This is the beginning of a project, the framework, or the design. In the design process, this is part where it is decided what is needed and how things are laid out on the screen. It is visual and it is the inner workings of the project. When you use a software application or go to a website, UI is the component that you physically see. UI refers to the compilation of approaches and building blocks that allow the user to interact with a system. UI does not, however, attend to details such as how the user reacts to the system, uses the system, and re-uses it.

UX intersects design when you see how people interact with your UI designs, their thoughts and feelings about the design, and how they perceive the design and its uses. Once the UI is set, you can see the how people interact with your design for the UX. Bottom line, UX is the experience that people have with the UI. UX contains a much bigger picture than UI does but it still relies on the smallest details to drive it. A good UI can result in a bad UX and a great UX can be had from a terrible UI.

The UI/UX process must be completed and user tested before anything is coded. In the SDLC lifecycle, the UI/UX process happens right after requirements are gathered, but before development begins. Failure to do this phase properly will lead to poor quality software and unsuccessful user experiences with the product. As with anything, a good balance is very important. You want the design to be visually and mechanically friendly to users, but you also want it to be an experience that is positively memorable enough for users to enjoy and re-use the product or application.

My advice to us is to try and develop standards that can be reused throughout all your applications. Try to get some things proven out early and keep stakeholders in the loop on progress. Also try to involve customers and potential customers as early as possible to ensure that you are on the right track before you get too far down the road. Finally, try not to get married to your own designs and ideas as they may not be well received and ultimately may need to be changed.

Do you have a good UI/UX story and/or process? What are things that you do to ensure success with UI/UX? What questions do you have about UI/UX?