Anytime you interact with a product or service, you have a user experience. This might entail navigating a mobile app, browsing a website, interacting with a physical product (like trying out a new running shoe), or taking advantage of a service (checking into a hotel or using public transportation for example). The term user experience (UX) refers to all aspects of this interaction. Think about the last time you used a new product. Were you able to accomplish your task? How easy was it? How did it make you feel? UX design seeks to make products and services that are easy, effective, and delightful. When you accomplish this, you earn loyal customers who’ll recommend that product or service to their friends and family.
The UX designer role is to make a product or service usable, enjoyable, and accessible. While many companies design user experiences, the term is most often associated with digital design for websites and apps. While the exact process varies from product to product and company to company, the general phases of design tend to stay the same.
Now we’re familiar with the meaning of UI, it’s time to explore UX. User experience is the experience that a person has as they interact with a product. The term was coined by Don Norman back in the 90s when he worked at Apple. Don Norman says that ‘‘User experience’ encompasses all aspects of the end-users interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”
Since UX designers focus on crafting products that are easy to use and understand, the concept of user-centered design takes a central stage in UX design process.
The meanings of UX and UI imply that they are related design disciplines, yet they are very different in nature. The UI design is more concerned with the visual properties of design as well as the overall feel it conveys. But without great UX, even the most beautifully designed UI will cause a bad user experience.
Recently, many companies realized that good design is a competitive advantage and they are willing to invest significant resources in creating a great user experience. As a result, the role of a UX designer emerged and is in high demand.
In simple terms, UX design is a human-first way of designing products. UX designers are responsible for analyzing the target audience’s needs and ensuring that the company creates products that meet those needs. UX design is a multidisciplinary field where UX designers can be involved in different areas of product development such as product research, ideation, prototyping, testing.
UX designer’s responsibilities usually include:
UX designers are constantly involved in the execution of a product. They interact with all team members to ensure that product design is moving in the right direction.
The role of UI designers is more relevant to the visual representation of information. UI designers should have graphic design, visual design, and branding design skills to create interfaces that have a good look and feel. Usually, UI designers take the user flow and wireframes for individual screens/pages created by UX designers (skeleton of design) and turn it into something aesthetically pleasing (dressing-up the skeleton).
Being a good designer means a few things, such as:
But there are a few specific things that are relevant for UI designer:
UI animation is the process of adding motion to UI elements in order to enhance a product’s interactivity. UX and UI designers use animation to guide them around the interface, alert users of a change, influence users’ decisions, and indicate a relationship between elements—among other uses. UI animation also reduces the mechanical feel of a website or app, creating a much more natural and intuitive experience.
In the infant stages of the digital age, it was commonplace for designers to overload their interfaces with animated gifts and bright, flashing colors. But as we began to learn more about the psychology behind how users interact with digital interfaces, it became clear that excessive use of decorative animation detracted from the quality of the site—and even resulted in a loss of users.
Over time, designers opened their eyes to the functional benefits of animation, taking it from a decorative add-on to something that could enhance the user experience. A turning point in the evolution of UI animation was the switch from linear movement to interactions that mimic real-world properties, like speed, gravity, and weight. This progression led to the realistic UI animations that we have today.
In UI design, animation can be functional or decorative. Functional animation guides and informs the user in real-time, whereas decorative animation is an essential storytelling and branding tool.
The primary role of UI animations is to draw users’ attention to an important CTA or show them what to do next. UI animations allow designers to communicate with users without text.
For example, a progress bar will animate to draw your attention so you can see how much of a signup process you must still complete. The alternative would be text somewhere on the user interface saying something like, “you have completed 20% of this signup process.”
You can imagine that a user interface would get very cluttered and confusing if text replaced UI animation!
UI animation also allows designers to communicate with users across cultures and languages. Animating a button to show a user where to click (or tap) will attract their attention, no matter what language they speak.
Lastly, UI animation plays a crucial role in design psychology and reducing cognitive load. Designers minimize the mental effort required to use a digital product by providing context, familiarity, and consistency through animations.
Branding is the process of creating a strong, positive perception of a company, its products or services in the customer’s mind by combining such elements as logo, design, mission statement, and a consistent theme throughout all marketing communications. Effective branding helps companies differentiate themselves from their competitors and build a loyal customer base.
In a Zendesk survey, 87% of consumers said consistent branding across all online and traditional platforms was important.
This means that customers expect that your tone of voice is the same over email, your website, customer service, and every other touchpoint in your business. If you rebrand, you need to change your logo, and styling everywhere both online and offline. Make sure you create a consistent brand so that your customers revel in your omni-channel presence.
Branding in-store can be very different to online branding as in store you have to worry about positioning of products and props that can effect how a customer experiences your brand. Branding in-store is more experiential as people can walk around and pick things up, whereas customers online are experiencing a two-dimensional scene. Of course, certain elements of branding are consistent both online and in-store. These include consistent imagery and logos.
A unique brand can have a huge impact on your bottom line by giving you a competitive advantage over your rivals and helping you acquire and retain customers at a much lower cost. In eCommerce, where new companies (and therefore, new competitors) are springing up every day, an established brand can be an invaluable asset in bringing customers and generating profit.
Regardless of whether you’re investing time and effort into crafting a compelling brand or paying no attention to it whatsoever, your business still has a brand. However, it may be completely different to how you intended to be seen.
By carefully constructing your brand through stories, relationships, marketing messages and visual assets, you have the opportunity of shaping your customers’ expectations and creating a unique bond that goes beyond the buying-selling relationship.
Good branding is strategic, while marketing is tactical. When you establish the higher objectives and clearly define your brand promise, you can start crafting a marketing plan that’s geared towards achieving those goals.
While it's easy to combine branding and marketing into one focus or idea, they're quite distinct. It's also common to hear branding and marketing compared in terms of priorities. The truth is, they are both essential to a successful business and must work in harmony for a business to grow.
Put simply, branding is the identity of a company, and marketing is the tactics and strategies that communicate that vision.
As a business grows, both branding and marketing get more complex. This growth often means that both areas of a business will develop strategies and tactics to support different goals. In branding, these actions usually support the business’s story and identity. In marketing, these actions usually amplify a company's products, customers, or other initiatives.
Branding is important for a variety of reasons — and we’ll go through them below.
Your brand is arguably one of your organization’s most important assets. It gives your organization an identity, makes your business memorable, encourages consumers to buy from you, supports your marketing and advertising, and brings your employees pride.
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