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UI/UX: What is it and Why you Should Care

Strategically Speaking
Jan 23, 2015

Author: Derik Sutton,

Part 1:  What is UI/UX and why is it important?

By now you’ve heard of UI/UX.  You may have even referenced it in a conversation about a particular website, app, or other technology interface.  For most people it’s the most technical way they know how to say “I like this” or “I don’t like this.” 

UI/UX belongs to the larger descriptor, design, which further complicates this post because that term is often broadly used and hard to define. 

There will be two parts to this blog.  Today, part one will be used to summarize UI/UX as it relates to online and mobile interfaces, and to begin to understand the impact it is having on financial services.  Part two, which will post next week, will provide some specific online and mobile influences, and lay out some best practices for evaluating the UI/UX of your technology vendor. 

Part 1:  Let’s start with a summary of UI/UX.  

UI = What you see

UX = What you feel 

The role of the UI is to create an enjoyable visual interaction between a human and a computer interface.  The role of the UX is to ensure the human interaction was an enjoyable experience. 

For a deeper dive into the differences between UI and UX, I recommend visiting Just™ Creative. 

The general responsibility of a UX designer is to make sure the product flows from one step to another. UX designers use wireframes, product requirements, and user stories to frame the experience.  A good example for financial institutions is designing the process of new account sign up.

The general responsibility of a UI designer is to produce each element that visually communicates the process laid out by a UX designer.  For new account sign up, a UI designer would be responsible for the graphical layout of the process such as the icons used, typeface selection, input field size, etc.

The importance of UI/UX has risen with the advancement in computers and mobile devices. 

The general evolution looks like this:

  • Command line user interface and keyboard
  • Graphical user interface, keyboard, and mouse
  • Graphical user interface, capacitive touchscreen, and your finger

As technology has advanced, so to has the complexity of what the user sees, and what they experience.  As we start 2015 the importance of UI/UX is at an all time high.  The largest organizations in the world leverage the unique talents and abilities of UI/UX designers to delight and engage customers on a daily basis.  Quite simply these organizations exist because they are experts at driving the consumer experience and changing the world. 

This TED Talk video addresses what companies like Google and Facebook go through in their design process for products that impact billions of users. 

At this point, you may be thinking “that’s interesting, but my financial institution will never even come close to needing a product for that many users.”  

That is more than likely true, but that doesn’t matter.  Your customers are using those services and their consumer experiences are being driven by these organizations. 

Larger financial institutions are beginning to fully understand this impact.  The best example is Capital One®.  Check out these three moves all made since June 2014. 

Now you are probably thinking “well, that too is interesting, but my financial institution will never have the money to buy companies like Capital One.”

That is more than likely true, but the point is that your customers are going to compare your services to large financial institutions like Capital One.  Next week’s post will discuss UI/UX best practices, and what you can do in 2015 to give your customers the experience they expect.


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