Whenever we think of delivering a product, we tend to think of the functionality of it – what it should be delivering, what ways are required to convey the functionalities, what inputs are anticipated, and what outputs are expected from the system. While designing it, you may gather with your team(s), discuss all these aspects, and invest in bringing a product with almost all the functionalities planned in the head to the table. But despite the features the product delivers, it sometimes may not perform very well in the market compared to a similar product with lesser features, but a really simple to use interface that is easily understandable and looks good to the eye.
For an instance, suppose it is a basic news website. You as a reader generally expect the homepage to have different sections that are easily separable, where each section represents a category. You would want the contents in the section to have some news piece declarations belonging to that category; not all of them. The news piece declaration would have the news title, the display picture, the date and time, and maybe a small caption (and maybe even the reporter’s name). You generally click on buttons such as “see more belonging to this category” to lead you to a different page containing all the articles belonging to that category; even better, in a paginated form. Also, you’d want it to be sorted with respect to time.
When you click on a news title, you expect it to redirect to a separate page. The next page would consist of the title, the date and time, the display picture, the headline, and the contents of the news. You would expect the page would have distinctions; the title in bold and large font, the headline distinguished from the news content in some way, and the content in a regular font. Here you’d want the headline to be distinguished from the other content because that helps you determine the gist of the contents, and whether you’d want to read the entire content.
Now imagine you just discovered a news website that gives you updates in real-time and has every filter you could possibly imagine that would make the news authentic. But it does not classify its contents at all. The contents are just there, scattered. The main page of the website displays all the news, unsorted. You do not know when it was posted or what category it is unless you read the entire thing. And when you click on a news piece to view the contents, you find no distinction between the title, the post date/time, the content, and the headline. You may go through one article in that website but wouldn’t want to return for a second article because you’d have to go through the entire list of articles again to find what interests you.
Here lies the job of the UI/UX team.
The UI (User Interface) and UX (User eXperience) designers in the case of web design go together. They may be inter-related to each other; may also overlap each other. There are a few distinctions to the type of work they do. In simple terms, the job of a UI designer is to create and place utilities in such a way that they are easily understandable by the user and look decent enough for people to want to use it over and over. The UX designer looks forward to creating ease to a person’s journey to solve a problem. In other words, the UX designer focuses on placing the functionalities at the right places for the user to find answers to their queries.
In the above scenario, the UX designer would have gathered opinions from regular readers. They would have conducted sessions where they would interact with people to gather information about their preferences or comfort. For an example, the readers (end users) in a session may be asked what features they would visualize in a news application, how many articles they would like listed under a category in a page, or which finger is more dominant while tapping on a mobile screen. They may additionally conduct surveys for the same. After collecting the required data, they’d analyze it and create a basic sketch of where the features need to lie (for an example, the buttons or the number of articles to be displayed under a category) and finally create the overall feel of the experience.
This sketch is handed over to the UI designers.
With the sketch, the UI designers would play around with colors, think about the reactions that happen when an end user performs an action, like throwing in animations- overall beautifying the output design and bringing it to life. They care a lot about the final product aesthetics. They would figure out what font size would make the text readable, how to distinguish between the title, the headline, and the contents of the page, or even the minute details that matter a lot when it comes to making the look appealing such as spacing.
Hopefully this article helped you get an idea of what UI/UX teams are for, and why they are needed.