Is UX the same as UI?

No! These are completely separate and require different skills and techniques. I’m skeptical if any one individual who claims to be an expert in both. They do exist, but are rare.  

UX (user experience) is all about researching what users want from something (in our context, a website). This involves getting into the mindset of typical users (or target users) and ensuring the entire digital journey is optimised for them.  

UI (user interface) is all about designing the front end (in our context, a website) that looks nice, clean, intuitive, functional, reflecting well on the organisation. 

Good web teams (either project or business as usual teams) will have both UX and UI specialists working well together. The UX specialist should be deeply engaged with user research, defining user personas, user needs (usually expressed in the format “as a.. I want to... so that I...”), looking at current user journeys (mapping these) and analytics (such as Google Analytics). The UI will be looking at corporate branding, themes, wireframes and architecture. 

At early stages both can be done in parallel but at some point they need to come together so that the designs become optimised based on both the users and the organisation.  

At Ellipse Atlantic, we provide training on both UX and UI and in particular how these work well together in a team to get the right result.  

Reiteration of a live site

As mentioned in a previous post, no website is ever finished (or is perfect), so how should a website that’s live and public be updated? 

It’s really a question of risk management, which depends on a number of elements, including:

1, the purpose (user need) for the update

2, needs to be updated (basic content, forms, products, functionality)

3, who is responsible for what is being updated (content owner)

4, the system capabilities (specifically for publishing or staging)

This blog would be very long if it included explanations of each of these. But the main point is that UX should not be an afterthought.  

User needs should always be at the heart of any update, regardless of the finer details. Its essential to make changes based on improving the user experience (if it doesn’t enhance the UX, then why make the change?). It could be correcting something erroneous on the site (such as a contact detail) or refining the wording of content to be easier to understand. I’d encourage any business to be proactive and make the change, as long as it’s accurate. Users hate wrong information on a website, so if a problem is noticed, just fix it.

But be mindful of how changes made in the wrong way can adversely affect users, such as disrupting information architecture proven to be good for users or adding content that add no value and dilute the purpose of the content. 

 

The value of videos

There are lots of reasons why a video would enhance a website and promote a business. YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine (Google is 1st) and has more than 4 billion views per day. It’s easy to share videos via many social media platforms or even links on an email or sms. But most importantly, it can convey information, features of a business or the culture of a business far better than text and photos. 

In a nutshell a good video will extend the reach of your audience, convey a powerful message and motivate more people to buy your goods and services.  

BUT a word of caution. A business video should be created with care. Effective videos take thinking, planning, creative design, a combination of opinions and quality execution. Unless you want to promote a very casual business don’t rush into it, getting a friend to just record a video on their phone of you talking about your business. There are lots of great video agencies out there and often with low costs and will help you through the process. It’s worth it. If you need help finding a good agency get in touch with us at info@ratemywebsite.net 

Is my website ever done?

I often get asked if I'm happy with my websites and how often I update them. 

The truth is that I'll never be 100% happy with websites, they can always be improved, as can ANY website. I update my websites at least once a week, often just small tweaks and experiments.

I'd encourage everyone who looks after a website to frequent try out new things on their site. It could be rewording a paragraph or product, changing a photo, rearranging the order of blocks. 

I also have the luxury of experimenting with my business model, which means updating my websites accordingly. A word of caution (note to self): be careful not to contradict anything said previously or advertised. A confusing website lacks effectiveness. 

Basic website principle #3

Mobile responsiveness. 

For a business website to be truly effective, it must be mobile responsive. Your customers should never have to pinch and zoom their mobile or tablet screen in order to properly read or navigate your site.  

 

Only a few years ago even good websites had a mobile version (the URL prefixed with m. ) and a desktop version. Now, with over half of all internet traffic accessed via mobiles/tablets, there are strong reasons to have a fully responsive site that works well on all devices, but is optimised for mobiles. (There are still instances where having a m. prefixed site is justified, for example YouTube).

You may be surprised that a site that was built recently and looks good on a desktop/laptop may actually not be fully responsive.  

A simple test is to try out your site on a mobile. Navigate around, try all pages, functions and contact. View pictures, click menu options, click on links, use maps. If it doesn't work smoothly, get it resolved - fast!

One of the core elements of our rating service is to check a site thoroughly on a wide range of devices (inc different brands, sizes and browsers).  

 

I'll have more blogs on mobile first websites, as there is so much to consider (for instance data consumption, location services, etc.).