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If you work in tech, you probably already know what UX and UI are. However, if you’re new to design or you’re looking to create an app for the first time, it can be crucial for you to understand the difference.

UX design stands for user experience design, which incorporates the ways in which a user is actually supposed to interact with, navigate through, and command the app. UI design, on the other hand, stands for User Interface design, and this describes more of the actual physical layout and look of the app: how things are sized, illustrated, laid out, and more.

In the past, there have been times that UI has been more important than UX when it comes to design. Prioritising UI means that you ensure that the app looks great, while not valuing the way that it works, as much. However, today, when it comes to app design: UX reigns supreme. So, if you’re planning to create an app in the coming year, here are some reason that you should be focused on your users’ experience when you create it–not necessarily what they see on their screen.

Function over Form

We live in an on-demand world. We can order food at the click of a button and have it arrive at our doorstep, and we can choose which television shows we want to watch when, and decide whether we want to watch advertisements or not. For that reason, it’s important for apps to offer users convenience and ease. While users still like an app that looks good, they prioritise one that makes their experience as convenient and intuitive as possible, which falls in line with the general valuing of things that are easy and fast today. 

When it comes to app design: UX reigns supreme.Click To Tweet

Our Attention Spans are Shot

A recent study showed that humans have shorter attention spans than goldfish; apparently our attention spans are only 8 seconds long! That means that your app needs to cater to people who can’t wait or focus very long, which means it needs to function well–and quickly. Designers need to focus on important UX stuff to make sure apps are usable (and enjoyable to use); for example, they should choose common navigation patterns so users don’t have to spend a long time learning how to get around, they should offer animated gestures so users quickly get how each of their movements affects the app, and they should offer pop-ups and help, so that if users do get confused or pause, they don’t simply abandon the app, instead of working harder to figure out how to use it.

Mobile Usage Takes Over

In recent years, mobile Internet usage surpassed desktop usage. This proves that people are using their devices and the apps on them on the go– which means there’s a good chance their focus is wandering or their attention is split between multiple things. Since mobile usage has taken over, it’s important to focus on UX to make it as easy as possible for someone to use an app. Users don’t have as much time to take in how an app looks– they simply want to take advantage of its function and features and get on with whatever else they’re doing.

If you want to create an app that does well and that people value, you should focus on how it functions first– rather than how it looks. Once you get a quality skeleton in place, you can add a great cover for those bones. With a well laid-out foundation, you’ll ensure that your app offers value and actually helps your users — and good aesthetics will just be an added bonus.

Simon Lee

Simon Lee

Founder and CEO of Glance. Simon has a wealth of development and management experience in mobile technologies and is an innovator and new technology evangelist.