A UI isn’t a UX…OK?
It’s not as easy as it sounds to create a user experience. Well it’s easy to create any experience, but the right one is elusive. This is due to the simple fact that everyone is different, and although we all have certain we responses in common most are wildly different. So in short a UI isn’t a UX and we need to stop using the terms interchangeably.
It has been well argued that it is impossible to design a user’s experience. This makes sense in that all we can do is design the platform in which the experience is had and there are many external factors involved that simply can’t be planned for at all times. The interface is just a small part of the overall experience that to refer to one as the other is horribly wrong.
Let’s use an amusement park as an example of this. The rides are fun, but they are not the whole experience. There are rides, games, food, shows, and all many of spectacle that affect the overall experience. Don’t forget the customer service because if a clown yells at your kid and scares everyone it doesn’t matter how much fun the rides are the creepy clown trumps all.
As a web designer we must be clear on what our role is. We are not here to put out what we think is the most efficient UI, it is what the most people think the best UI is. This is a holistic approach that must be used in order to move beyond what we are thinking and move into what the users are thinking. We are not the same. The average site user is going to have considerably less site knowledge than a designer. They want what they want when they want it and the how’s and whys be damned.
Consider content for a moment. The perfect layout with exceptional load times and perfectly placed graphics doesn’t mean beans if the content on the site is a rambling mess of irrelevant crap. That may seem to be beyond the prevue of a UI designer, but not a UX designer! The user experience is negatively impacted by crap content so it’s your problem now.
A UX designer must blaze new trails and keep moving on to the next thing. You will need to challenge business roles and keep the UX evolving over time. Basically it will never be good enough but that fuels the change towards to best UX possible.
This is not possible alone. You will require the talents of many folks across a diverse set of disciplines and even if you are The Talented Mr. Ripley you just don’t have the bandwidth. You will need to be a part of SEO, content creation, social media, site performance and more. This isn’t even taking into account the many different devices the site will be used on. Responsive design may not be enough. How will your site operate on a watch, glasses, or a headband and beer goggles or whatever the next crazy wearable device is.