What is UX design and why is it important?

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What is UX design and why is it important?

What is UX design and why is it important?

Like all industries, the world of design uses a lot of jargon and acronyms, so in this blog we want to talk about what UX design is and why it’s important.

You might hear the phrases UX, and UI design being bandied about and wonder what exactly they are. So, let’s start with what these acronyms actually mean.

What is the difference between UX and UI?

First up, UX stands for User Experience Design. It’s also sometimes referred to as UXD or UED.

The best way to look at this is as a design process and system that offer a great experience to its users. 

UX design involves the whole design process of collecting and uniting the product, including aspects like branding, design, usability, accessibility, and functionality.

The ‘system’ encompasses anything design related which we need to use and navigate – this could be a website, a web application or desktop software – essentially anything which requires some form of human-computer interaction.

Motivate Design says: “At its core, UX design first and foremost considers the needs of people who will be using the product and places them at the centre of the design process. Great UX is simple and intuitive, and, in the best-case scenario, users find it enjoyable to interact with. UX is the make-or-break factor in a product’s functionality and overall success.”

UI on the other hand, stands for User Interface Design. During this process designers take the result of UX design and use it to build ‘interfaces’ in software or computerized devices, focusing on looks or style. 

UI design encompasses visual design, colours and layouts, graphic design, behaviour, and typography. Simply put, it’s how the website’s content is displayed to the user. 

An ‘interface’ focuses on anticipating what users might need to do. It then needs elements which are easy to access, understand and use so those actions can be carried out. As well as being easy to use, UI design needs to be aesthetically pleasing.

UX is the design in its entirety and UI is about the aesthetic experience.

Web developer Dain Miller describes them like this: “UI is the saddle, the stirrups, and the reins. UX is the feeling you get being able to ride the horse.”

Which industries have got UX design right?

A good user experience makes all the difference, but some industries are typically doing great in the area, while others really are lagging behind.

Generally speaking (and there will always be those who disagree), companies which are considered to be at the forefront of UX design include Apple, Uber, Nike, and First Republic.

Uber for example, a relatively new company compared to the likes of Nike, is a tech company with great UX. 

Design company Motivate Design use Uber as a textbook example for UX because it brings to life the exact definition of UX’s primary goal: it simplifies processes with the user at the forefront of the design process.

“Before Uber, hailing a cab or calling ahead for a car service was a troublesome task. It was tricky to nail down the perfect timing, locating the driver and arrive at your destination in a timely manner. It was an aggravating experience. Uber however, streamlined this process into a simple tap on a smartphone. Uber’s ridesharing innovation makes the process of calling a taxi easier, more accountable and more secure – all while using a clever interface to turn the process into something not unlike watching a video game,” they say.

And again, some industries aren’t at the top of their game in terms of UXD. Think about your own experience. We’d bet that when you are using national or local government websites, utilities companies, finance, and healthcare you are sometimes confused by the options presented, it is unclear where to click or how to find the right information.

These are large and complex organisations, often with hundreds or even thousands of services, so it’s clearly a difficult task to get all this information across in an easy-to-use way for the end user. 

But UX is about creating positive associations with the brand or organisation through a pleasant, easy and joyful experience. If you’re having trouble finding out how to pay your taxes, check a bill, or file a complaint, things take more time than necessary or prove to be impossible to solve; you’re likely to get annoyed and lose faith in that company or industry. 

Compounded over time negative experiences can seriously harm customer trust and how a brand is perceived, leading to dwindling sales and user numbers.

Top UX trends for 2022

Thinking about the coming year, we have looked at the trends we think are important to watch in terms of UX design.

  1. High focus on personalization

We’ve spoken about this before, most recently in our blog about customer centricity, but companies which are getting their personalization right are the ones we are most likely to interact and do business with. 

UX Studio team say: Personalization aims to enhance the experience of the users by anticipating and meeting their unique needs to guide them through a custom conversion funnel.” 

Case study: Citrix


Credit: Citrix


Citrix tackled an ambitious web personalization project to demonstrate the impact of industry-specific experiences for a targeted marketing strategy. 

The Citrix team assumed that industry-specific content on its homepage would increase engagement and decrease overall bounce rate, because visitors would see content relevant to their individual business needs.

Citrix opted to target experiences to three audiences - healthcare, education, and finance industries

It created personalized banners with copy, imagery, and a clear CTA that was specific to each vertical.

The results were staggering. The personalized experiences accounted for huge improvements in visitor engagement across all three target industries:


  • A 7% decrease in bounce rate overall
  • Clicks on homepage banners increased by 30%
  • Pageviews per session increased by 10% 
  • Average session duration increased by 4%.

Read more HERE. 

  1. Mobile-first approach

People are busy. For a lot of us our handheld devices are the place we do most of our scrolling, research and buying. We look for houses and apply for jobs this way.

Projects which start off with a mobile version at the forefront are going to go the furthest. It’s responsive, progressive and puts the user and usability first. Literally in the palm of their hands. It’s something which can’t be ignored.

Case study: Airbnb


Credit: Airbnb

Airbnb’s ambition required it to rethink ways in which it worked. It launched an ambitious update to its app — a new entirely mobile way to explore hosts’ homes, and neighbourhoods. Even if a company doesn’t start out as mobile first, it can still ensure their considered approach to designing for this platform make it that way.

In the case of Airbnb, the company prepared for their big app update a few years back by first taking stock of the available tools and evaluating their processes. They identified issues including a lack of design tools for collaborating as well as a lack of unified design elements that could be used across formats, screens and tools.

This is not unusual in large organisations where separate teams might work on desktop and mobile aspects, but a company so focused on their design and user experience needed a better approach.
Airbnb decided to take a step back and create a unified Design Language System, a "collection of components defined by shared principles and patterns.”

This allows for rapid iterations using a shared vocabulary across design, engineering, and other disciplines and for this seamless design to work across different screens and outputs. 

In terms of tools, Airbnb has another secret weapon to ensure user experience is as flawless as possible on all screens: in 2016 they have developed their own software, Airshots. It allows designers to access thousands of screen permutations instantly.

“Imagine being able to see any screen from any version of our app in any language on any device that we support,” said Alex Schleifer is the VP of Design at Airbnb.

Read more HERE.


  1. Step into the dark

You may or may not have already turned your mobile phone, apps, or desktop onto dark mode.

E-readers did this a while ago with night modes to cause less strain to the eyes. But the tech world has now cottoned on and many now have the ability to go from light to dark so good UX design should consider this appearance.

Case study: Snapchat


Credit: Alistair

One Snapchat user, Alistair, decided to redesign all the apps’ function taking dark mode into account and create his own case study.

He decided to redesign the overall interface of Snapchat, as well as the discover page to help optimize traffic and regain user attention, all while implementing a “Dark Mode” feature.

The overall goal of his project was to create a more user-friendly interface that optimizes for performance, traffic, and user-retention.

Before he began, Alistair created a survey to get a better idea of current user behaviour. Research is a very important element of UX design. Preliminary surveys and interviews are often necessary to define the problem we are solving and to understand user perspectives different from our own.

He primarily surveyed 18–25-year-olds who have used the app since its inception. The survey consisted of the following three questions:

  • What feature do you primarily use on Snapchat?
  • What feature do you use the least on Snapchat?
  • Would you be interested in a dark mode for snapchat?

87% of respondents said they would be interested in a dark mode for Snapchat, which is a significant majority and a strong signal that the design update is warranted.

Snapchat have launched a dark mode since this designer carried out this research, in line with many other apps and operation systems.

Read more HERE.


  1. Storytelling

You can’t underestimate the power of visual storytelling. Along with being customer centric, being highly personalized and in the palm of your hand with elements which visually appeal to our senses will – quite frankly – make us stick around longer. 

People crave stories which make us think and feel. A message, or story, told well to us visually, will stay with us and turn the service or product into something relatable, something we want and something we need. 

It will also make us feel good about the interaction or service we are getting, which in the end will create a strong link between company and customer, that will last. 

Case study: Santini Cycling and Everyday Robots


Credit: Santini Cycling

These are two websites we think have really got their UX design right when it comes to storytelling. 

They are both extremely visual and require the user to interact and move the page. 

Actions the user is invited to make then cause movement on the website in an extremely visual way. 

The colours, movement, directives, and products shown and explained are done so in an extremely visual way which really helps the brand tell its story.

Read more on Santini Cycling HERE and Everyday Robots HERE.

Ariel Crespo
UX/UI Lead