Is UX overlooked in favor of UI during website & app design?
September 2016

As a digital agency supporting primarily B2B businesses we often find ourselves debating and explaining UX, UI and other website and app design processes to clients.

Whatever platform, app, or website you’r planning – Its design process can only be reviewed in the context of the goals it serve, and an agreed benchmark set for that goal.

Benchmarking UX, UI and app and web design

A point all too often forgotten when teams, even in B2B companies, discuss design, is that, as with all functions of the business, it must be measured.

The adage “what you don’t measure you can’t manage” holds just as true for design as it does any other operational aspect of the business.

A design is GOOD when it demonstrably serves the goal in a way that exceeds the benchmark, and it’s NOT GOOD, when it performs under the benchmark.


UX before UI – is core for all design – including apps and websites

Once goals are agreed and set for an app or website design process, there are many factors that may be considered. Interestingly we find that the most common concern for clients are their brand guidelines.

As important as adhering to brand guidelines is, it’s only a small subset of the user experience (UX). The first consideration, for any design project, should be its functionality. Usability is paramount for driving revenue. If people can’t easily buy your widgets or book your service, they won’t, and that means you make less revenue.


Glitzy UI can cover bad UX, but won’t solve it

Now, it’s not that we like putting anyone in the spotlight (because we really don’t), but all too often we see apps and websites that cover up a poorly thought out user experience with a dazzling design.

It feels like people are often more keen to discuss color, icons, and fonts – The more “relatable” aspects of design, than they are to look at “dull” grey wireframes and flow diagrams.

While it’s true that a dazzlingly gorgeous interface may make a grand impression,but if it’s hard to use, or difficult to understand, your audience will fail using it, and ultimately this will cost you.

A good user experience, at the interface level, starts with usability


What Is Usability?

Usability is Simplicity – Simplicity of use.

An app or website is well designed insofar as usability is concerned when it’s as simple to use as possible.

My acid test for usability is whether I can get my mom to use the service without her having to call me five times to ask for help.

It’s important to remember that most people are tech-savvy and even those of us that often feel awkward when we face interfaces we can’t decipher.

Here are a few common considerations for usability in user experience design. This is by no means a definitive list – Just a few examples:

  • Navigation  – Simple navigation is important. Navigation is a means to an end and not a goal in itself. Users should be able to intuitively understand how they can find what they want on your app or website.
  • Mobile-first mindset – The majority of first interactions with websites, and definitely with apps, is on a mobile device. How easily can your app or website be effectively engaged with using just one hand?
  • Consistency – When using an interface we quickly recognize patterns. Consistency of your interface with existing conventions is an easy win that allows users to leverage the knowledge they’ve gained with other services to operate yours. It reduces their learning curve and speeds up on-boarding.
  • Search – Searches should retrieve only highly relevant information. Useful search results make a service look smart and intuitive. The opposite is also true
  • Checkouts – This really is a big issue for eCommerce services. Checkout steps are notorious for having the highest abandonment rates. An abandoned cart is lost revenue.


Bad UX design has direct costs

We’ve all encountered poorly designed website and apps that leave us mystified insofar as how to complete even the most common tasks. When that task is buying a pair of pants, or ordering a plane ticket our discomfort will probably result in loss of revenue for the vendor the problem is that most vendors never realize just how much money they’re NOT making due to poor design…

If that’s not bad enough, bad UX design invariably leads to a support desk overhead due to frustrated customers looking for assistance. Frustrated customers are also a source of poor reviews and ratings – For app operators, this can have potentially catastrophic impacts on download figures.


Key UX considerations

The following considerations should help you evaluate the user experience design of your app or website:

  • Learnability – How intuitive is the design of the service? How much effort is required to complete common tasks like filling in a form or completing a purchase?
  • Speed and efficiency – How quickly can users perform tasks?
  • Memorability – Can users easily remember how to use the service?
  • Errors – What kind of errors are users making? Why are they making them? How are they being instructed afterwards?

Good usability is invisible

The best usability leads to a user experience where things simply work the way you’d expect them to naturally, without requiring you to learn anything new.


Assessing usability

Making things simple is much harder than it looks, and due to the curse of knowledge the closer you are to a service, the harder it is for you to understand a first timer’s user experience.

An easy way around this issue is to refer to user testing often and regularly. As a rule of thumb having ~7 individuals do user testing for any screen will help you resolve 80% of the usability problems, so get busy!

If you feel like you may need some help we’re here for you. We work with clients ranging from banks to startups to help them make their services easier, and more engaging for the user, and we’re happy to do the same for you. Talk to our experts today.

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