What is User Experience? How is it tied to/associated with User Interface?

User Interface is just a sub set of User Experience. User Experience does not stop at providing the interface for the user. It needs to be iterative and has to integrate with everything in an application.

User experience should present an overall experience that can meet as many goals and needs as possible for the business and the users. Designers are to find and provide that sweet spot between the users’ needs and the business goals and ensure that the design is on brand.

To be precise, irrespective of whether it is a web site, a mobile application, an enterprise application or a utility, User Experience has to be a combination of functionality, branding, usability and content for any application.

Functionality includes all the technical and business logic around the application.

Branding revolves around the aesthetic and design related elements of the application.

Usability entails the ease of use of components and entities of the application.

Content refers to the substance within the application more into its organization and structure.

Is it in similar lines to marketing? Wikipedia says that marketing is the process which creates, communicates and delivers value to the customer thereby maintaining the relationship with customers.

While marketing campaigns can change at a rapid pace, digital interfaces can live for years, sometimes decades, before undergoing major identity changes. SaaS solutions can change much more rapidly but would users want that? If the interface changes too quickly, the user will never master the interface and will be just as frustrated with a continually evolving interface as one that’s just plain awful to use.

Visual interfaces need to express and utilize a sense of intuitiveness that occurs just by looking at the graphical representations in that interface as well as timelessness – a consistency that the user can count on so that the digital persona of the brand isn’t constantly changing.

Because both on-premise and Web-based applications have become more complex, we must balance style with usability in interface design. A good interface is a humble servant of functionality, but this means we have less opportunity to show a strong visual identity. Instead, the identity must live in the visual details, and the interactivity and usability become the memorable experience that the end user is seeking. Brand’s identity can be expressed through the consistency of that interface.

Therefore, Marketing executives need to extend their brand guidelines into the product itself, well beyond just the creation of Direct Marketing or Email Marketing pieces. As the true digital persona of the brand, these guidelines should guide interface designers to develop a look and feel to the solution that is both consistent and reliable and gels well with the branding image!

An instance of where market leaders related to mobile practice are heading to:

  • Apple gives considerable importance to User Experience by publishing the guidelines for applications developed exclusively in iOS platform.
  • Microsoft has roped in a User Experience firm to co-host its product/platform launch (WP7.x for phones/XNA for gaming).
  • Google is simplistic in providing unique User Experience for search and email while they are lagging behind Apple in providing such experience for mobile platform.

 

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