UI is, in many ways, the make-or-break feature of modern applications. The power and functionality under the hood is seldom seen and almost always taken for granted by the end-users. What the user interacts with, and thereby uses to judge your product’s efficacy, is the frontend. And a good UI needs to be coupled with a well thought out and tested user experience, or UX.
And no, UI is NOT the same thing as UX.
When we began designing the product insEYEte, we were using mind/concept maps as a general visual template. This posed many challenges from both a usability and user experience standpoint. In our first build, we only showed users 3 degrees at a time. While this solved the issue of cluttered screen-space, it took away from the product’s usefulness as a “bird’s eye view”, which was something our users repeated requested. And for every change in the UI, we had to modify or update our UX to match.
On top of the functional design challenges, we also had to ensure that the application still maintained a high degree of aesthetic appeal. This was essential to us, as we want insEYEte to be a tool that the user enjoys using over and over again. This means it has to be intuitive, pleasing from a tactile perspective, and functional. We ran numerous user tests on features like the toolbar and context menu to understand exactly what our users defined as “intuitive functionality”, and also to see which layouts resonated the most.
So how does designing a cutting edge UI benefit end users? The boost in efficiency that a user can achieve by using a well designed UI or UX has been calculated and studied, and is the edge that today’s workforce is actively seeking. I always advice clients and coworkers to Invest in good design throughout a product’s life cycle, to respect the mutual determinism between the user interface and user experience. Design is what ultimately separates your product from your competitors, and helps you build an emotional connection to your end users. Make sure it’s strong.