Recently, in an online video on User Experience( by Google ), the host stated that UI is not UX. The statement seemed innocuous and left me wondering (for a while) the idea behind this title. It did seem like the intention of the title was to break an existing belief system. If it was so, then did we actually believe that UX was all about UI.
The belief that UI is UX is more among the developers. As software developers, we look at UI as the part which interacts with user and every experience is linked to it, apart from the roundtrip to servers for data exchange. We tend to work on UI and fiddle with the user interface elements. Everytime a new version of the platform/framework is released, we cry to lay our hands on those new user interface elements. Ahh! that flash islands in WDJ; a scrollable table in WD; and so on. As with tech gadgets, the excitement gets its quick death once we actually get to work on it.
Once we deliver the product, if the testers/customers provide their feedback to improve the experience, we feel we need to change the UI. As a developer myself, we tend to say to stakeholders: “Please upgrade the server to new version. Its not in our capacity to improve the user experience. We have done our best and the customer has to live with it. (Now the best part) It’s standard SAP offering.”
User Experience or UX, is an experience. The visual experience i.e. UI is just one part. UX involves both physical and emotional aspect. The emotional feeling of walking into an Apple Store and feeling the new iPhone is something which is specific to each individual. It could be pride, status, sense of superiority, excitement, symbol of achievement, power, etc. Its not restricted to the tech gadgets. Everytime, you use your favorite travel site and you are able to book a flight/hotel without any hassle, you emotionally feel good. We are always in the pursuit of happiness and software like other things are means to feel it. Happiness cannot be captured, it can only be experienced. UX is meant to strike that balance where the user experience the joy of usage. User, should feel that he taken care of by the software. User should feel that he is treated as unique and at the same time have him/her dealt without bias. User should feel the trust and transparency to persuade them to share/consume data with the software( or appware 🙂 Its a challenge. Every product in the market targets these aspects to grab the attention of the user and more importantly to be used by the user.
As a concluding thought, UX is much more than UI. UI is definitely the big part of it but other physical(backend, servers, network) and emotional(packaging, data transparency, trust, convenience,..) make the whole. As always, the whole is bigger than the parts.
Thank you for your time and would welcome your thoughts.