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Your Guide to UX and UI Design, and What’s the Difference Between Them

User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) are often used interchangeably. What makes it even more confusing is that they’re often bundled together as UX/UI to describe aspects of web design.

And while there are some functions and roles that dovetail into each other, it’s important to define them as separate entities. So today, we’re going to take a deep dive into UI design, UX design, and, ultimately, the role they play in building and growing your CRM and CMS.

Defining UI and UI Design

The user interface (UI), at its most basic, is what you use to interact with an app, website, or any kind of technology. Technically, your UI could be any device you interact with—a television, light switch, thermostat, and so on. But in recent years, UI has come to mean so much more.

In the early days of computers, you had to have a degree under your belt to interact with systems of the day. Apple was the first company to offer a device with point-and-click functionality, making it easy for just about anybody to use a personal computer. They designed their devices with users in mind, setting a standard for UI design that continues to this day.

UI designers emerged out of this user-centric philosophy as specialists dedicated to anticipating user needs and desires. As technology advanced and user preferences and expectations became more apparent, the role of a UI designed became even more critical. Today, UI designers are involved in implementing a staggering array of technologies for mobile devices, computers, wearables, mobile apps, web apps, and all manner of smart (connected) devices.

Arguably, UI is one of the most critical aspects of web design today. It’s about how your website looks when a user lands on it; the look and feel, branding, colors, fonts, and other aesthetic aspects.

Done well, your UI design is a cohesive effort that’s appropriate to your target market, attractive to the customers you want, and matched to the purpose and tone of your company as well as the industry niche you operate within.

Defining UX and UX Design

User experience (UX) and UX design emerged due to the improvements and advancements in UI. How the user responded to the UI determined whether their experience was good, bad, or indifferent.

At its core, UX is all about the user and their journey. Is the experience valuable? Accessible? Desirable? Useful? These are just a few of the considerations UX designers apply when architecting UX solutions. The ultimate goal of UX design is to ensure that the product, app, or website delivers what the customer needs and wants and that their journey leads them intuitively to the desired result.

UX designers work closely with UI designers, applying data and research to help them understand and continually improve customer interactions.

To analogize, you might think of your UI as the highway system and the UX as the route you travel. You’d essentially want to ensure the route represented the shortest and most obvious distance between two points. If the road is full of potholes or isn’t well-marked, you might arrive at your destination, but it would not have been a pleasant journey. If it’s bad enough, no matter how much you want to see what’s at the end of the road, you might abandon the journey well before you arrive.

Of course, a hovercar or a jetpack might solve those problems entirely, and the UX designer would be the one—hypothetically at least—to make that happen.

UX and UI Roles in CMS and CRM

Now that we’ve established a baseline for UI and UX design, let’s talk about their role in creating successful CRM and CMS systems.

UI/UX for CMS

In today’s content-rich digital environment, content management systems (CMS), like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and others, power most websites, mobile apps, and web apps.

A CMS offers a way for customers to interact with your content, buy your products, and learn more about your company. It’s also a platform for your employees to create, optimize, and share valuable content. Since so many different people interact with the interface, both on the front and back end, the UI needs to be adaptable to user preferences and devices, and the UX needs to offer an easy way for all parties to accomplish their goals.

In recent years, online business and content needs have evolved greatly, requiring a dynamic solution to manage various aspects of commerce, marketing, and customer service. Companies need to change their web content quickly to represent new or modified products and services. Blogging is an essential concern as well, as is SEO, and many companies work with teams to keep their content fresh, tweak, and adapt to changing search engine algorithms.

Today’s CMS has evolved to meet those objectives, providing a flexible, customizable, user-friendly way for businesses to achieve their goals. A CMS democratizes information, encourages collaboration, and simplifies complex topics (like SEO) so that just about anybody can do it.

For the end-user, it’s the face of your company, setting the tone for all future interactions. With this in mind, you can see how important it is to “get it right.”

UI/UX for CRM

In terms of UI/UX, a customer relationship management system (CRM) has concerns similar to a CMS. Companies using CRM for marketing or customer outreach for any reason need to ensure a seamless experience from end-to-end.

Businesses today rely on CRM for so much more than just customer outreach. It aligns sales and marketing, supports omnichannel communication, enables customer service excellence, and delivers critical insights that support decision-making at just about every level of operations.

A CRM improves employee productivity, automates repetitive processes, streamlines communication, reduces errors, and unites teams to a common purpose. Leveraged to its full advantage, it reduces time-to-value on various initiatives and helps companies grow and evolve.

To deliver on all these points, the UI/UX must be intuitively designed, user-friendly, and functional to its intended purposes. If the CRM lacked good UI design, it might not perform consistently across various devices—which is all the more critical these days, considering the prevalence of WFH and remote work.

As for CRM UX, if the solution is complicated and difficult to use, you won’t achieve a high level of adoption within your teams. Some features might not be used at all if they are inefficient or unreliable, rendering the solution only marginally useful. Since a CRM usually represents a significant investment for a company, a good UX is vital to ensure the best possible outcome.

How Bespoke UX/UI Teams Help Build a Better Website and Ecommerce Experience

All things considered, it’s easy to understand why UI and UX design isn’t exactly an “out-of-the-box” solution. If every company was the same and shared similar goals, a standardized approach might be a viable strategy, but best practices suggest a bespoke team is more effective.

First and foremost, it’s a matter of personalization. You’ve invested a lot of time and effort into your branding, messaging, and market research, so you need a solution that aligns with and adapts to your needs rather than something that requires you to adjust your processes and expectations to it.

How WayPath Helps

WayPath offers bespoke solutions for UI and UX design, helping you build a more functional, personalized, and satisfying website and ecommerce experience for your customers and your teams. We prioritize an agile methodology, applying a framework that’s adaptable to how you work and focused on achieving the results you want.

Research is a vital part of the planning stages of building a CMS or CRM. We study your business model and ideal users to understand their specific needs and preferences, which helps us apply real-world context and insights to our design approach. Research is a key component because if you can deliver precisely what your customers need, they’re more likely to trust you with their business.

Ongoing research builds on those profiles, leveraging real-life data to improve the UX as new insights and technologies come to light. The ultimate goal is to offer a clear and intuitive customer journey that grows and evolves along with you.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, every business owner knows the value of a great CRM and CMS. But if your solutions aren’t delivering the results you need to advance your business, it could be that your UX/UI design is the root of the problem.

For most businesses today, an off-the-shelf CMS/CRM solution just isn’t going to cut it, and that’s where WayPath comes in. Our team integrates UI and UX design principles and expertise into every step, combining experience, strategy, and data-driven insights to help you achieve the results you want.

If you’re ready to transform your customer journey, we can help you gain more leads, turn those leads into prospects, encourage prospects to become customers and keep them loyal to your brand as you grow. Get in touch today to find out how to get started. We’d love to show you how we can help.

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