What’s UI and UX design got to do with mobile app development?

Some of the clients in Singapore I have met in the past had these questions such as what is UI design and UX design. What does it mean? What is it an important factor in the mobile app development phase? Why is there a UI UX design charge in my quotation? Can’t we just skip this phase to cut costs and go right into the development phase?

These questions still linger among those people who aren’t really tech savvy. So let me put this in a simple way where everyone will be able to understand.

UI design is basically user interface design and it determines how the mobile app looks whereas UX refers to a user experience design; it’s a process to determine how an app actually works. Both have to work tight-knit together in order to be able to come up with a successful app.

User Interface Design (UI Design)

UI is a combination of content such as text, images, videos, documents etc.  and form fields such as text fields, checkboxes, drop-down lists, radio buttons, labels etc. and behaviour such as what happens if I type, click or drag a function.

A job of a professional UI designer may not be easy as some might think. They need immense practice and go through numerous trial and errors to get what is to be achieved. The ultimate goal is to create a user interface which is beautiful, engaging and flawless for the end users.

Let’s consider your mobile app to be a journey which your user will undergo. Every single user from the moment they spot your app and download it from the App Store or the web to the point of using it to achieve their goals or tasks within the app is taken on a journey. And that journey should be captivating and smooth for the user. The user would want to come back repeatedly to use the app instead of other mediums to fulfil their needs and tasks.

The app designer is like a tour guide who takes the user on an engaging journey through the mobile app. Generally, when the term design is used, the first thing which crosses a person’s mind is the use of design software. Although having the knowledge to use design software such as Photoshop, Illustrator is extremely important for every designer that’s not the only thing which an actually designer needs. A UI designer also has to go through certain phases such as brainstorming, experiments, testing and understanding the client’s users and their journey throughout your app.

Bear in mind that a well-designed mobile app will have a higher user retention rate.

User Experience Design (UX Design)

User Experience (UX)Design is all about creating flawless experiences for the user. Below are few points to determine if the UX of a mobile app is good.

  1. Usability – What is the user using your app for and what is the core functionality of your app? What are the tools/integrations I need in order for my app to be used and what can be done to keep the number of steps at the minimal for the user to achieve within your app? What are the things your users would want to achieve in your app? And how can the user experience be smooth, quick and enjoyable at the same time?
  2. Integrations- If your mobile app requires push notifications, location services, social media integration, e-mail functions etc. your user will have to be notified via an alert message which pops up on the screen while they are using your app.
  3. Consistency- Be consistent through your app in terms of appearance and functionality as inconsistency creates confusion among the users.
  4. Keep it simple – There is no need to over-do an app. Keep the design simple and neat. A confusing app would have tons of buttons all over with various vibrant colours in every different page and an overloaded user interface.

When you are launching your app, don’t go for lengthy tutorials explaining how to use the mobile app. Instead, give your users information as and when it’s required. Give tips and hints and a good UX designer will build a robust design where the user will be able to figure out how to the app within a matter of seconds without an explicit tutorial.

I hope this article clears any confusion about mobile app UI and UX Design.