Paksofto User Interface & Mobile App Design Fundamentals

The Paksofto terms User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) have become inadvertently misused in the design community. The user interface is not the same thing as the user experience. This confusion most likely stems from the overlap of the skill-sets and tools involved in both disciplines.
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It’s nearly impossible to extract the UX from UI and vice versa. While the UX is a combination of tasks focused on optimization of a mobile app for effective and enjoyable use, the user interface design is its complement, the look and feel, the presentation, and overall interactivity of a product.

UX design essentially helps users accomplish functional tasks across platforms and services while the UI design consists of compelling and aesthetically pleasing interfaces in which the user interacts with. UX and UI designers work in the same realm and on the same projects, but apply their own skills at various stages of development.

What is User Experience Design?

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User experience, also commonly known as the UX or UXD is the 

The mobile UX encompasses the user’s perceptions and feelings before, during, and after their interaction with an app. This includes all aspects of the end-users interaction with the company, and its services/products.

The term “User Experience” was coined by Don Norman, the first to describe the importance of user-centered design, which is the concept that design decisions should be based solely on the needs and wants of your users.

A UX Designer’s primary concern is how a product feels for the user, so the UX Designer will explore different options to solve user-specific pain points and provide them with a valuable solution. Ultimately, products with good UX are simple and user-friendly.

Why is UX Design Important?

Generally, a mobile app’s UX influences how users perceive it. Users often ask themselves if the app provides them value, if it’s easy to use, and if it will help them fulfill their goal. The answer to these questions should always be “yes”. The UX ultimately determines if a user will return to your app or if they will delete it altogether, and possibly giving it a poor rating.

According to designer paksofto, “The best products do two things well: features and details. Features are what draw people to your product. Details are what keep them there.”

What Makes a Great User Experience?

Successful mobile apps all have one thing in common: they benefit users. If a user is going to spend time on your app, it’s going to be useful to them, offering a great deal of value. A useful product meets a need that is not already being met in the market. To create an amazing UX, your research process must include competitive analysis, developing personas, and then developing a minimum viable product, POC or prototype to test feature validity or market viability.

Typically, research is the first step when deciding whether to build a mobile app. UX designers conduct a lot of this research that will either validate or invalidate initial product ideas and guide the development of the product.

It’s important to note that the UX encompasses much more than how a user feels about a product or service. It incorporates strategic aspects that involve a deep understanding of the business model and processes that clients use. It also involves understanding the larger context in which users interact and engage.

The ultimate UX incorporates these three things to create solutions that meet the needs of the client, users, and ultimately work within the bounds of the technological platforms.

Researching Your Users

An integral part of developing successful mobile apps is first conducting research on your potential users as well as competitor products and services. Before the development process, you need to get an understanding of how the UI and UX will work together to solve user pain points.

A typical UX process is as follows:

  1. Research and strategy
  2. User personas
  3. User stories, flows, and mapping
  4. Wireframes and prototyping
  5. Coordinate with UI Designers and developers

During the UX process, a pain point or need is identified. Then a rough prototype is created which is later validated (or invalidated) through testing. When both the business model and the unique value proposition have been validated the product is pushed into development.

Next is the design of the user interface, which defines the interactions by adding color and visual design to the original design. This gives the user the clues that they will need to successfully navigate through the app, such as registering as a new user, for example. In most cases, the UX will come before the UI. There are however some exceptions in which this is not the case.

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Suggested Tools:

  • Sketch
  • Illustrator
  • InVision, Balsamiq
  • Azure
  • Pen and Paper

User Experience is Not the Same as Usability

User experience and usability are often confused in the design community although these two fields are very different. As we covered earlier, the UX addresses how a user feels, while usability is about the user-friendliness and efficiency of the interface.

Usability, however, plays a big part in the UX as it heavily impacts how a user navigates through the app. A successful mobile app is one where the usability of the app is both efficient and pleasant.