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UI and UX: What Are They and Why You Should Invest in Good Design

9 minutes

Introduction

Early in my career I embraced tablet computing (Microsoft’s early forays which would serve as the innovative but only partially-baked precursor to Apple’s iOS). I founded a company based around the world’s first mobile pen-based, property insurance claims processing software.

This software helped efficiently gather measurements of walls, doors, counters, roofs (etc.) and calculated repair costs for to repair damage as part of insurance claims. Up until that point it had always been done back at the office on desktop computers using a very text-centric process.

We revolutionized the industry be allowing claims adjusters to do all the work on the go at the loss site and not have to even step foot in their office. (This was several years before the iPhone was launched.)

Designing the software UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) for the constraints of using a productivity tool in a keyboard-less, mobile environment required me to learn the fundamentals of human-computer interaction that I still use today. It required a reinvention of the way property loss estimates could be built—visually, with a focus on simplicity and efficiency. It permitted claims adjusters to be several time more efficient, resulting lower claims costs, faster repairs and happier homeowners.

UI/UX Website Design Today

Fast-forward to today, and I still spend a lot of time thinking about great UI and UX and how to continually improve our website designs. The reasons for it are different though. Good UI/UX design:

  • helps your customers move through a sales funnel
  • promotes a good ranking in search engines
  • directly impacts your bottom line

What is UX and UI Design?

Did you know that it takes 50 milliseconds (that’s 0.05 seconds) for users to form an opinion about your website? Did you know that as much as 75% of people judge a website’s credibility by its design? UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) design are the two critical aspects of creating a website that’s easy to use, intuitive and helps them accomplish their goals. They are closely related but distinct aspects of a website’s design.

UI – User Interface

UI is the design of the visual and interactive elements of the interface, such as layout, colours, buttons and images. UI designers are responsible for creating the look and feel of the aesthetics and presentation of the content and making sure that it is visually appealing, consistent and easy to use.

UI is all about the look and feel. Using the analogy of one’s house, UI is how it’s decorated, the light fixtures, the furniture within.

UX – User Experience

UX design is about the overall experience of the user when interacting with the website, and is arguably more important than UI. The goal of UX design is to create a seamless and efficient user journey that meets the goals of the user and provides a positive experience. UX designers do research, testing and analysis to understand the user’s goals and characteristics, and they use this information to create an interface that is easy to use, efficient and satisfying.

UX is about how it works. Using the same analogy of one’s house, UX is the architecture and design of the living spaces, the efficiency of preparing meals in the kitchen, which ways doors open, where light switches are located, the flow of traffic among different rooms.

Why Invest in Good UI and UX Design?

Here are 9 reasons to partner with an experienced digital marketing firm that studies, lives and breathes good UI and UX design when building your website.

1. Helps You Acquire Customers and Increase Conversion

Every business wants to acquire new prospects and continue extracting value from old ones. When the website feels high quality, it tends to indicate quality of your product or service. When users can easily navigate your product and find what they are looking for, they are more likely to convert into paying customers. A smooth user experience means prospects are more likely to trust you with their business and sensitive details like their email address and credit card numbers.

Then when customers have a great experience with your product or service, they’ll spread the word, which will introduce your well-designed website to new prospects.

2. Enhances Brand Reputation

A well-designed website design will boost the way customers perceive your brand and enhance your brand reputation. When users have a positive experience with your website, followed by a positive experience doing business with your company, they’re more likely to recommend it to others. Positive word-of-mouth can help build your brand reputation and attract new customers. A good brand reputation helps scale a business because of the positive way perceive your brand on the whole.

3. Decreases Bounce Rate

When the immediate result of landing on your website is a strong UX design with a clear path to find relevant information, visitors are more likely to explore the rest of your site which means a lower bounce rate and higher chance of conversion.

When users stay on your website for longer periods of time, it sends a positive signal to search engines, which can help improve your ranking in search engine results pages, thereby attracting more organic traffic to your website.

4. Drives E-commerce Revenue

Good UX design is like lubricant in the machinery of an e-commerce website—it helps the gears move. Good design simply makes it easier for customers who are interested in your product to make the purchase. A well-designed website can result in fewer instances of cart abandonment, thereby leading to an increased number of purchases. Especially if your business is in a competitive industry, there’s a very low threshold for friction and overly complex browsing and purchasing processes.

5. Reduce Customer Service Costs

Good UX has the potential to save a lot of money on customer service when people can easily find answers to their questions and don’t need to contact the company via forms, chats, calls, emails, or social media. It can also improve brand loyalty.

A study by Forrester Research demonstrated that just a 10% improvement in customer self-service capabilities can save companies up to $100 million annually. By creating intuitive interfaces and comprehensive self-help resources, you can empower users to solve their own problems and reduce the burden on customer support teams.

6. Improves Search Engine Ranking

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your website for ranking on search engines. Good UX design can improve your SEO, since several UX factors directly influence how Google ranks your site. The same UX best practices like page speed, responsive design, good website copy, and efficient navigation that benefit your users, will benefit your SEO ranking.

7. Improves Brand Reputation

Design fundamentally centers on creating impactful initial impressions. These impressions are largely influenced by the user interface (UI), showcasing the importance of captivating and user-friendly design as the foundation for a fulfilling user experience (UX) and overall brand perception.

Crafting an exceptional UX can imprint a memorable experience on users, bolstering a brand’s image positively. By providing a seamless and intuitive user experience, a brand can elevate its trustworthiness, credibility, and how customers view it. This solid reputation not only draws in new clientele but also nurtures loyalty among current customers, securing sustained achievement in a competitive environment.

Users will remember first and foremost the frustration they felt when trying to navigate your platforms, websites, and tools, more than the aesthetics of your branded assets.

8. Helps You Stay Ahead of the Competition


In the current dynamic and competitive business environment, it’s crucial for companies to constantly innovate and refine their offerings to remain leaders. Investing in UX design allows businesses to stand out by delivering superior user interactions than their rivals. Emphasizing user-focused design and integrating user feedback enables companies to directly cater to user needs and preferences, securing a competitive advantage.

Providing customers with a positive experience when engaging with your company can significantly enhance its competitive stance against others in the market that may offer less satisfying interactions within their brand ecosystem.

Hence, especially within industries that are more traditional and less technologically advanced, dedicating resources to UX can serve as a pivotal factor in influencing the decisions of purchasing committees to favor your options.

9. Builds Customer Loyalty

UX is one of many ways to encourage client loyalty. According to a Merkle report, 75% of consumers consider user experience a decisive factor in establishing brand loyalty. Good website UX design builds customer loyalty by enhancing user satisfaction, reducing frustration, personalizing experiences, and fostering trust and credibility. These elements together create a positive user experience that encourages users to return and engage with the brand over time, thereby establishing a loyal customer base.

UX also is a key element buyers consider when referring a product to a peer, particularly in the case that a peer is a beginner and is less versed in the field. UX is particularly important for onboarding and teaching beginners how to achieve goals with the products they acquire.

Best Practices for Good UI and UX Design in Websites

UI and UX design is essentially building a plan for how your content will be communicated in the most efficient way.

1. Always Start With Your Content

Always begin any website project by determining out what content you have and what content you need. Distill your message to it’s very essence, focusing on the value of your offering. It’s as important to know what not to say as it is what should be said.

The content should guide the information architecture—you don’t want to create a visual design and then try to make your content fit! Assess your content, create a visual sitemap to plot your structure and flow, and from there you can move into UX designs. Look for the most efficient way to communicate your story, and remember an image (and illustration, chart, table) can be worth 1,000 words.

2. Understand Your Target Audience’s Goals

Identify your main target audience, and a secondary audience if relevant, by pinpointing the shared challenges that connect users of your website. Determine their essential needs and the actions they need to perform, and strategize on how to facilitate these actions efficiently. Engage in user research, leverage existing data, and consult with team members who interact directly with customers.

3. Always Focus on Simplicity

Designs that focus on simplicity lead to better conversion, increasing your revenue. Simple as that.

4. Adhere to a Brand Strategy and Brand Identity Guidelines

A professionally-designed brand and brand identity guidelines ensure every aspect of your website is consistent and aligns with all other customer touchpoints like social media posts, LinkedIn Profiles, etc. Good brand management demonstrates professionalism and trustworthiness, and makes you appear more in control, more experienced and more reliable.

5. Anticipate Shorter Attention Spans

The majority of website content you create will be scanned and not read fully. Use simple design elements to guide the person in scanning: telling the story visually through intuitive scrolling vs. clicking, minimal interfaces, bullet lists rather than paragraphs, clearer headlines, and well-defined CTAs.

A black and white photo of a man wearing glasses and a polka dot shirt.

Eric Embacher

I channelled my love for mobile and cloud computing into one of Canada’s early SaaS successes by co-founding Symbility Solutions in 2002 in Toronto (later acquired by CoreLogic) and designing a tablet-based, cloud-connected software for the insurance industry, years before cloud-based software and iPads were a thing. Thirteen years later I started Infinite Monkeys to focus on my passion in my favourite place (Victoria).