Understanding UI & UX
Software development acronyms can be confusing and, quite frankly, a little over-the-top.
It’s rare these days to have a conversation where someone doesn’t mention the MVP and CPC — or PMF, ARPU, CTR, IAP and WAP.
Let’s focus on two of the most important design acronyms for entrepreneurs and digital product creators.
UX and UI
UX stands for User Experience. It’s all about maximizing how people flow through an app or site, structuring information properly, and ensuring that users like to open and interact with your product. A positive UX eliminates friction and confusion, and it makes the app enjoyable to use.
UI stands for User Interface. This is the look and feel of everything from images to buttons to graphics and text. The right interface makes your product look professional. It builds trust and confidence, ensures you attract the right customers, and immediately distinguishes your app in the market.
The UX is the blueprint. It maps the technical structure, and outlines how you move from the kitchen to the bathroom.
The UI is all the pretty, sensory stuff inside. It’s the furniture, the paint colours, the fluffy pillows and the soft rugs.
We’re all digital product users, so we know first-hand that both UX and UI are essential — even if you’ve never thought about WHY an app feels simple and compelling.
We can feel innately that the structure and the décor need to be solid.
If we put them in a Mad Max-style cage match, though, UI would always emerge victorious. For apps and digital products, almost nothing matters more than UI.
The power of trust
As of May 2017, there were 2.2 million iOS apps in the App Store.
People want to download something that feels trustworthy — and if it looks good, they’ll forgive you for almost everything else. Since the caveman days, humans have also been adept at making snap visual judgments. Should I eat that spiky plant? Chase that wooly mammoth?
We are built to take in huge amounts of information and decide in a fraction of a second. Today’s app users have incredibly sophisticated taste and visual sensitivity. Underestimate them at your peril, because if you don’t look pro, you’ve already lost the game — and it doesn’t matter what’s actually in the app. Even when we repeatedly beat the UI drum, most entrepreneurs still underestimate its power. They worry about features, and they get really stressed about price. Founders often think they need to be the cheapest app out there, but products with a premium price point or a fair subscription model typically do well.
Ultimately, it’s all about finding a balance between value and visuals. Don’t think UX doesn’t matter, because it sure does. As we’re iterating and testing a product and discovering the needs of early adopters, UX plays a starring role. For example, when you download and open an app for the first time, what happens next is essential. Your introduction, or onboarding, should build trust, quickly explain the app’s value proposition, show how to use it, and create a sense of ownership. That’s a lot to accomplish in just a couple screens or a few precious seconds.
The stakes get even higher if you’re asking new users to do something, like fill out a form, connect to their Facebook account, pay for a feature or create an account. Apps typically lose 80–90% of users at these pivotal moments, which we call drop-off gates.
In order to avoid seeing users fall off the cliff and close your app, we apply UX strategies to keep people engaged.
Keep the following in mind:
Keep the Gates Open
We never want to force users to sign up or create an account right from the landing page, for example.
Let them come in and look around. People eventually come back to the application if adequate stimuli and urge is created by external sources. Rely and tap these sources to generate user retention.
Experiment to find the right triggers
In the early days of Twitter, the team learned that a huge number of users dropped off after they created an account.
hrough testing and experimentation, Twitter discovered that by requiring new users to follow at least 10 other Twitter members during the onboarding process, the drop-off rate took a nosedive.
Why did this work? Users who connected with people they knew or admired or were simply curious about quickly felt a sense of ownership.
They made connections and wanted to see what other Twitter users were saying on the platform. They had conversations. Other people began to follow them. The loop soon got tighter and more engaging.
Create habitual dependence
Enticing Twitter users back in via conversation and connection establishes habitual dependence — a cycle that most of us understand intimately.
It’s that thing that compels you to pick up your phone and check Instagram, or to get those last 1,000 steps on your FitBit.
Even if you know the basics of UX and UI, I recommend digging a little deeper to understand how they can enhance your product.
It should also go without saying that anyone you partner with to create your app should have deep and nuanced knowledge of these constantly-changing factors.