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UI design and UX design are different, but they’re also interrelated. UI design helps us figure out how our product will look and feel from the user’s perspective, and UX design helps us figure out how our product will perform from the user’s perspective. At times, these two perspectives can feel at odds with each other, especially if you’re focusing on building something great that looks good first and worries about the user experience later. But this way of thinking is fundamentally flawed—in fact, it’s actually more important to focus on UX first in UI design than it is to focus on UI first. Here’s why.

Start with the big picture

User experience design can be daunting. There are a ton of aspects to consider: technology, graphic design, marketing and strategy. But while it’s important to look at all those details, it’s also important to start with your big picture focus first. When you are designing a website or an app that will help customers interact with your company, you need to take into account every detail that affects their experience when using it. That includes their needs and wants as well as their overall user interface (UI). Once you focus on those big picture aspects, you can move on to other specifics like messaging or even color schemes.

Define your goals

Understanding the goals of your website helps you create a better user experience. When you understand your users’ goals, you can design a site that meets their needs and delivers a positive, seamless experience. This will also help with marketing the site because you’ll be able to talk about how it will help meet your users’ needs. Keeping your user-centered goals in mind helps drive the design of everything from content to navigation to layout, which are all part of User Interface.

Create personas for each user persona

In creating user personas, you’ll be defining who your users are and creating a realistic profile for each. As a designer or website developer, it’s important to remember that you don’t design for yourself; you need to keep your audience (i.e., your customers) in mind at all times. Some questions you might want to ask: Are your potential users men or women? Do they live in big cities, suburbs, or rural areas? How old are they? What types of things do they like and dislike? While putting together your personas, give some thought to what message(s) each persona represents—this will help when you come time to define who will see (and use) specific parts of your site and tailor the experience and design to their liking.

Understand where technology can help

Technology can help make your website functional with plug-ins, scripts, and more. But most importantly, you need to figure out how to balance technology with what you already know. It’s important that you don’t rely solely on these things to make your site run—and when you do use technology, make sure it’s for a good reason and isn’t just there for its own sake. The right technology will improve the UX direction.

Have an organized process

As web developers, we often get caught up in our love for creating new and exciting interfaces. We have a tendency to assume that flashy designs are what’s most important and as a result, our sites end up becoming more and more cluttered. A cluttered website is a confusing one. It confuses your visitors, your search engines and your future when you return to update it years later. In order to keep your site organized, you need to start by thinking through things systematically—which will help you keep focused during both development and when creating new features in future months or years. Stay on top of what’s important and the designs will fall in place.

Review your process often

The process of user experience design is fluid and constantly changing. This means you should be constantly reviewing your process to make sure everything is up to speed and that you’re executing as efficiently as possible. For example, there are a ton of apps out there that help designers keep track of their UX and workflow, including Figma, Zeplin, Dropbox or Asana. These tools let you organize your projects into separate sections and subsections so that every element is accounted for throughout each stage of your workflow. They also make it easy to review changes made throughout various drafts so you don’t have to waste time combing through versions to find what you need.

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