UX/UI Design Guide for Startups (Simple and Foundational)
I’ve just finished reading a book. It was a great piece, and I was eager to get the new one of the series. I took my smartphone, googled the book, and opened a website. I noticed the great design: a sound color palette, simple fonts, no ads trying to snatch my attention.
I started going deeper through the website. I used its search tool, and I found the book. So far, the experience has been smooth. I’ve selected the book and added it to the basket.
It was all almost over, and I was 90 percent sure that the next thing would be to pay for the book and then get the tracking number. However, life prepared a surprise for me.
It was impossible to click on the add to basket icon. It simply was not working. No matter how many times I tried, the website kept refreshing, and nothing happened. After several attempts, I understood the mere truth — people who created the website did not fully optimize it for mobile devices.
I bet you have encountered a similar problem when trying to get what you wanted online. The reason that you and I have had such troubles is simple — poor UI/UX web design.
If you want your website to be the one clients remember and return to, you should know several key UI/UX design aspects. First, UI/UX is important. Imagine Apple paying no attention to the design of an iPhone or Google having the search engine that provides you with some random results. Second, there is no UI without UX in product design, and there is no UX without UI. Third, there are a number of UI/UX design services available. It means having even a basic understanding of the matter might be enough to improve your website.
What is UI and UX? Who are the people standing behind it? What are the common mistakes a UX/UI designer might make? How do two work together? These are essential questions covered in the guide below.
Making your website better requires understanding several key principles of UI/UX design. Suppose you are not the person who reads tens of articles to get into a topic. Besides, to leave you with something more than just theory, I offer some tips that will make your website stand out.
What is UX Design?
You might wonder why there are so many products that offer the same practical advantages. For instance, take smartphones. Companies like LG, Google, Amazon, Samsung, and Lenovo provide clients with a myriad of products that serve the same purpose — calling, surfing the Internet, and having a flashlight. However, when you have different smartphones, you will notice that they all offer different user experiences.
In this race, the iPhone stands out the most. Many vilify Apple and even more praise it. Nevertheless, everyone agrees that Apple products provide the best user experience. The same is valid with almost any product that requires user interaction.
“Design is intelligence made visible.”
UX acronym stands for User Experience. Basically, it is what grants the product a meaning and relevant experience when users interact with it.
What is a UX developer? UX developers are people who focus on different aspects of a product, including branding, usability, design, and function.
User experience developers use tools like Adobe XD and Figma to develop web pages and web applications. They integrate coding and visual design to ensure that the end product will give a user an enjoyable and smooth experience.
The Key is in “User”
You are a business owner. Then, you probably know that success depends on the client’s satisfaction. To build client satisfaction, you need a user-centered approach. Remember, the simple yet fundamental truth about UX design is… its user-centered nature.
UX developers do not grind to create the websites that their bosses like. They spend countless hours coding and using Figma to ensure that the user has a good experience.
UX designers use virtual design, behavioral psychology, and interaction design to make the website stand out. They are like detectives piecing together all the clues to have some great insight at the end. If you think about it, UX developers need to understand how machines operate. They also should know what drives human behavior and work out the system to connect the two.
When working with a human user, you need to account for vital aspects like accessibility and accommodation to various potential users. Being user-centered is to ensure that a person with bad eyesight can read the content of your website.
Giving you the idea of what UX developers need to do to provide a good user-centered design, imagine Shiva, a many-handed god who multitasks and works with different tools and mechanisms to make your online experience enjoyable.
User experience design might not sound like something futuristic or complex. In reality, it is similar to the stuff you see in sci-fi movies. Every film showing a massive holographic display and a protagonist using their hands to manipulate the elements on the screen is possible thanks to UX design.
One of the first principles UX design involves is Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). While you might think that human-computer interaction occurs through wires, it is all about user stories for UX developers. The professionals engage in extensive research to develop such stories and correlate them to users’ goals.
UX design is about creating user stories that translate into different scenarios. At later stages, such scenarios guide the entire design process. UX designers incept the minds of potential clients, learn how they think, and then use the findings to create responsive and meaningful UX design.
What is UI Design?
“Design is intelligence made visible.” These are the words of Alina Wheeler, the person who makes a living by helping companies develop their brand identity. So far, she has helped more than a hundred businesses and is regarded as an expert in the realm of design.
How to make intelligence visible? Use good UI design. What is UI design? In simple words, it is User Interface design. In even simpler terms, it is the visual component of your website: fonts, buttons, headers, footers, images, videos, colors, etc.
Who are the Unsung Heroes?
The key aspect of UI design is user interaction. Every single micro-interaction and any sort of visual element is created by a UI designer. They are the unspoken artists of the modern era. They know which colors complement each other and which colors make the impression that a toddler has tried hand painting for the first time.
Here is an example of a great UI design. You can see how the colors match. The shape of buttons and icons is perfectly aligned. Everything is perfectly centered, dynamic, and responsive.
Here is an example of bad UI design (Viewer discretion is advised! If you are a perfectionist, you might have a panic attack). I think there is no need to explain what is wrong with the website. It is precisely the opposite of what you want your website to look like.
Between the first and the second examples, there is a UI designer who makes the difference. They are concerned with aesthetics. They are graphic designers. They are creative people.
UI designers ensure that the website’s interface is visually appealing, attractive, and themed appropriately to match the overall purpose of your business.
Mapping an interface inventory is a significant aspect of UI design. To illustrate, it is like having a list of everything you need to pack when moving to a new house. You have a box labeled “kitchen stuff,” the one for “bedroom,” and, of course, the one with “the books I will read sometime in future.”
The critical idea of interface inventory is to create order and guide the UI design process. Simply enough, the inventory includes categories like typography, forms, images, and media. Keeping these elements organized allows a UI designer to understand what components they must design/redesign and how such elements complement one another.
If you are to improve your website, creating an interface inventory is the first thing to do.
Imagine seeing a movie frame to frame. It will be tough to determine what is happening, and it will take ages to know the ending. The same thing matters in UI design.
With the invention of screens, UI design became fluid and dynamic. UI designers do not create a mere static collection of pages. They consider how pages and key elements within the pages interact.
Dynamism and interaction are what makes UI design extremely important. It makes your experience of seeing a webpage as if you interact with something alive and meaningful, a mind of its own.
Is There a Difference?
At this point, you should have an obvious question — what is the difference between UX and UI? The answer is both simple and complicated at the same time.
Let us imagine a website of your company as the human body. The skeleton is the code, the structure that lays the foundation and keeps all the parts together. The organs of such a body are the UX design. It supports life functions. Finally, UI design is the aesthetics of the body, its beauty, representation, and sensations.
Looking at the Core
Taking you to the story I told initially, I used a website with great looks yet flawed functionality. While looks created a good experience, the lack of functionality made such experience futile.
Following the analogy, the primary difference between UI and UX is that the former is concerned with the interface's looks while the latter regards the overall experience of functionality.
“In product design, there is no UX without UI, and there is no UI without UX.”
UX vs. UI
Looking deeper, you should understand the difference in the manner UX and UI designers approach their work. UX designers must focus on finding the problems and particular pain points users might experience when using the website. UX developers engage in extensive research to understand the needs of the target user and anticipate their needs.
In contrast, working upon the wireframes created by UX developers UI designers bring the website to life. They develop visual aspects and integrate the touchpoints users might interact with.
If you think about the difference between UX vs. UI, you might consider UX designers to draw maps for a journey. Later, looking at the maps, UI designers are the ones who make the journey possible.
What do we have now? We understand that UX design is to identify and solve user problems. In turn, UI design is to create interactive and intuitive interfaces. UX design comes first, and UI design follows right after. Though different instruments, both serve the same purpose — make the website the one users like.
UX/UI Web Design is a Team Effort
There is no good without evil. There is no dark without light. In terms of product design, there is no UX without UI. Conversely, there is no UI without UX.
To understand how UI and UX web designs work together, use the following formula: something that appears great but is difficult to use shows great UI and poor UX; something that is usable but looks terrible, exemplary of poor UI and great UX.
Where is Waldo?
You developed an application (by the way, check our guide to building a strong software development team), or you thought of a product that can change the lives of millions. It is a lifetime opportunity, and you need to get everything right. So, you hire excellent UX designers to do the task.
They conduct extensive user research, determine the target audience, and develop the grasp of user needs for your product. They create the entire architecture and figure out all the features your app should have. As a result, you have a fully functional application or website that offers what target users want and need.
Elated with the quality of work you publish the application. Days pass and only a tiny fraction of anticipated users download the app. If you wonder what is missing, the answer is UI design.
Even the most functional app can lack appeal. The text might be barely legible. Imagine white background for yellow characters. Buttons might be too close together, and users hit the wrong one all the time.
The moral of the story is UI and UX are two equal parts of the whole.
Getting Things Right
We established the foundation — good UI/UX web design is based on UI and UX complementing one another. However, in the competitive market, this is not enough. When it comes to product design, you need to find a delicate balance between UI and UX.
Whether you choose a UX or a UI designer to work with first, you must have a basic understanding of both (which, I hope, you have up to that point). The designers from both camps will work together and collaborate within the entire UI/UX design process.
You need to have everything ready for the collaboration of both teams. Ensure that UX designers have a direct line of communication with UI designers. Otherwise, you will have a website the least picky users will despise.
Third Time's a Charm or Common Mistakes in UX/UI Web Design
If you think that even the most experienced UX/UI designer does not make mistakes, you better think twice. Because UI/UX web design is a collaborative process, and people make mistakes, it is inevitable for the first framework of your website to be flawed.
“Less is more”
Yet, not be afraid, my friends. Understanding the common mistakes allows getting rid of them before any substantial harm to the product design process. Here, I would like to offer a glimpse into people's most common mistakes in UI vs UX.
Judge the Book by its Cover
- Starting with the icing of the cake, let us consider the meaning of an “engaging” design. Inexperienced UI designers often think of engaging in terms of quantity. Consider the following example. With a naked eye, you can see how all the images distract and confuse. It is hard to grasp what is going on on the webpage. Too many images, music, and animation can create information overload, which impedes a user’s decision-making process and adversely impacts one’s experience.
- The chance is you understand the crucial role of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) when creating a product. It ensures your website will pop up in the top ten search results and will not be lost forever in the obscure reality of pages two and so on. Unfortunately, when people put too much emphasis on SEO, they miss the point. Keeping that in mind, another common mistake of UI design is the content that focuses on search engines and not people.
- To unravel the third common mistake with UI design, let us think about babies and William Shakespear. How would a young child say that they are hungry? Probably, it will be something like “Mom. I am hungry.” However, we can wonder, how would Shakespear, the master of the word, integrate the same sentence into one of his pieces? Perhaps, it will be something like, “Oh, the birth giver. Let it be known that my stomach consists of emptiness.” The key lesson is — UI designers might use complex language for content to appear more sophisticated. In reality, users look for content they can understand through visibility and accessibility. Impress them with such features. Do not impress them with the impossibility to understand what the context is about.
- Have you ever tried reading the minuscule texts warning about some kind of legal action and the matter of intellectual property? Safe to say, it is hard. The same applies to UX design. The common mistake in UX is to use thin, light fonts. Consider the word “font” written in two different versions. Here is the wrong version — “font.” Here is the correct version — “font.” Even though both fonts are equal in size, the difference in their readability is massive.
Houston, we have a problem
- Have you ever visited a website with a massive, fixed header screaming at you? I bet you have. Here comes the first UX design common mistake — improper usage of large, fixed, “sticky” headers. The key issue with such headers is that they are fixed, and when you scroll down, they take a significant amount of page space and block the content. The golden rule is that headers must be less than 150 pixels in height.
- Remember my experience with buying a book? It is exactly the UX design mistake I would like to mention. Many companies try to publish their apps and websites as soon as possible and pay almost no attention to proper optimization. Unfortunately, they often do not test the functionality of wireframes on different platforms and devices. What works for a laptop or PC will not work for a mobile device with less screen resolution and screen size.
- Almost all modern websites use carousels (these are not old-school attractions people rode for fun). These are images as a part of a slideshow rotating on the main webpage and illustrating different content. The common mistake of using carousels in UX design is to put too much value on them. The problem with carousels as part of UX design is that users often scroll past them and miss all the content within them. Remember that carousels are mere decorations, and they should not include some significant information that users might easily pass by.
UX/UI Tips for a Startup Website
That’s the moment we were waiting for. Now we know enough about UI/UX design principles to understand what to expect from the work of both UX developers and UI designers. It is the moment when we proceed with the practical tips, the aspects that will improve your website's UI/UX Design.
- The Godfather of design, Leonardo da Vinci, once noted: "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." The difference between good and bad design lies in simplicity vs. complexity. Keep your website simple, it will grant you cost-effectiveness, more time to focus on other aspects of your business, and it will stamp on users' memory longer. Remember the simple design to be mobile-friendly. Do not forget to integrate a concise and strong message, something that will make your startup visible.
- Imagine an army going into battle without a strategy. I bet there is a massive chance for them to fail miserably. Remember, every endeavor must start with a strategy. Enthusiasm is good. Creativity is great. However, a design strategy is a must. If you want to create a website or improve the existing one, do not allow your enthusiasm to take over strategic planning and design. Within your strategy, determine the most relevant features of the website you want to see. Answering questions like “What primary features I want to showcase,” ''What features clients expect to see,” and “What is the message I want to communicate” should guide your strategy.
- If you do not want the website to be messy, sustain visual hierarchy. If you know nothing about visual hierarchy, consult a web designer. The scale sets the typographical statement of the website, which basically determines the positioning, types, sizes, spacing, and colors of visible objects in the website.
- Have you ever heard about the color scheme? There is a myriad of studies showing how colors impact consumers’ behavior. There is an entire science called color psychology. At this point, you have the idea that color is essential for marketing. It is similarly important for your website. Most startups do not follow their color schemes. Do not be one of them. Use this guide and create color schemes that stand out.
- If you have enough resources, consider using UI/UX design services. For instance, there is miro and eleken. You can get a team of experts working on the best UI/UX design for your website for a fair price. However, suppose you have people on your team who are capable of learning new things fast. In that case, you can improve your website without a UX developer or UI designer. The first thing is to create mock-ups, Minimum Viable Product (MVP), and prototypes. Tools like Ant Design do not require extensive knowledge in web design and help create basic design drafts. Of course, if you and your people do not have time to deal with designs and you cannot afford to hire seasoned professionals, you can hire freelancers. There are several freelancing platforms where you can find a cost-effective option of getting a quick mock-up for your website for a reasonable price.
Last but Not Least
Creating or improving a website for your startup entails understanding some primary User Interface and User Experience principles. Keeping that in mind, remember that UX is about experience and functionality. In turn, UI is about visual rhetoric and appeal. Good UI/UX web design depends on two coexisting in a delicate balance. If you want your website to stand out, stick to simplicity, understand your users’ needs, and use practical tools from this guide. Do not forget that the insights mentioned above offer a basic understanding of UI vs UX. If you want to know more, follow our blog and watch for new articles to appear. Here are the courses that can drastically improve your understanding of the topic
Create the website people will return to and use it to evaluate all other websites they encounter.
After all, ask yourself, what is the harm in getting new information to make my clients more satisfied?