top of page

Everything we get wrong about:
UX and UI design

26.10.2023

For those of us who aren’t up-do-date with industry lingo, UX is the abbreviation for user experience, and is used in the context of designing the interaction between the user and a product.

 

In recent years, there has been a vast development in data driven industries and tech driven industries, resulting in the innovation of digital products and interface design. These products include websites and apps. We call the design of these digital products ‘user interface’, or ‘UI’ for short. Here’s the thing though, over the last few years, UX and UI have merged together. When someone says UX in the design community, it is immediately associated with UI, and when you scroll through the likes of LinkedIn and Indeed for design jobs, ads for ‘UX/UI designer’ pop up as if they’re the same thing. And this is not a good thing.

 

Talking specifically about UX now, everything has an experience. Sure, an app or website has an experience, but so do physical products. The average person would be amazed to learn how much research and design development has gone into something as simple as the experience of making a cup of tea in the morning. In the days before mass interface design, the physical experience of using something was by far the most important aspect of the design process. After all, we live in a physical world, so why shouldn’t it be. Now however, UX is mostly ever considered in the context of UI, and the physical attributes of a product are left by the way side. Ask yourself, what does this say about the society we live in if we are willing to overlook or forget the physical experience in a physical world, in exchange for a digital interface. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, but recent case studies clearly show that the UI of a product has by far the higher priority.

 

There have been a number of case studies we can lookout where this has become a very real problem. In 2016, a phone company developed a phone that would over heat and set on fire, even when locked in a pocket, causing some fairly significant injuries. Coincidently, the interface of this system and the navigation was perfect. Whilst the phone was recalled and presumably upgraded with better ventilation, it does go to show though how we are evolving in regards to design. This case study alone demonstrates the importance of physical UX, and what’s more, it shows just how important the fine details are. The experience of having a phone in your pocket is just as important as the experience of holding the phone in your hand. They are both real, and both occupy a long period of ownership.

 

So what went wrong? Because we haven’t always designed like this. It used to be that each mobile phone was totally unique. Each model felt different in your hands, and its characteristics said something about the person that you were. At the same time, Apple we developing IOS with their Mac range, and never before had a computer been so easy and convenient to use. But perhaps we went too far. Each mobile phone is now identical, we no longer celebrate its uniqueness, the touch screen won’t work in the rain, the tiny buttons are hidden beneath bulky cases, and the loss of the headphone jack means I can’t listen to music unless I own a Bluetooth device, which will in turn drain my phones power, and then it doesn’t matter about either UX or UI because I won’t be able to use it anyway.

 

So what needs to happen? I think we need to stop celebrating technology for the sake of technology. This doesn’t mean go back in time 20 years, it just means that we shouldn’t compromise or forget a products physical performance, especially when we’re blinded by data and interfaces. Think about that cup of tea you make in the morning - everything you touch has had its experience considered. The balance of the kettle in your hand as you’re filling it with water, or the spout designed in a way so that boiling water doesn’t drip over the table. All these tiny features have been placed there for our convenience.

 

All that remains is to consider how and where to implement these innovations. Take the kettle for example, filling it with water is one experience, seeing how much, or how little water is needed through the gauge is another. And at the end of its life, how easy is it to strip parts down to recycle as much as possible. These are all essential to consider. The phone can be seen in a similar way. Holding it in your hands and keeping it in your pocket are both very important, but totally different experiences we must consider if we are to celebrate the physical world. When you consider UX in this way, it is easy to see that UX is not the same as UI, and when designing, we must consider them both as individual aspects of the design process.

Why Davis and Davies

17.10.2023

So why are we here. In 2020, we, Will and James, founders of Davis and Davies, graduated from the University of Plymouth with a degree in Product Design. We immediately took to the industry and both moved to London, with Will starting a career path that led to working in South Korea, and James a career path that led to working in Budapest.

 

Whilst both working at multiple studios and institutions during this time, we felt that they rarely touched on our shared values within design - design for emotional connection and emotional longevity, something that we both feel is often overlooked. We are enormously lucky to have built the experience that we did, but there was still something missing in our work. And so in the spring of 2023, we began to plan what our own studio would look like, and how it would operate with these values at the forefront of what we do.

 

There are two statements that now guide our practice, both of which we are extremely passionate about. The first of which is a quote by William Morris; ‘have nothing in your life you don’t believe to be beautiful or know to be useful’. The second of which is a quote by Terrance Conran; 'A designer can not claim to have designed something until they know how it will be made’.

 

So what does this look like? We both come from very practical backgrounds in design - we love making things. Everything we produce is designed to be functional. If this isn’t the case, then we simply haven’t finished our design process. We care about the experience of using our products and how they feel in our hands, and if we can’t test that with the right materials and processes, how can we say that we have done everything we can to make our work as enjoyable as possible. And then there comes the emotional connection - the value of the products that we produce and how they affect us. We combine design and the study of human behaviour to develop tactile solutions, creating deep-rooted bonds, and we are very excited that one of our first projects encapsulates this entirely with a new range of furniture. It is our mission to connect people with the objects they own. The products we develop spark conversations, and the experiences are real and memorable.

 

As we start our journey, we are excited to connect with as many new people as we can, and work on new projects as we develop. We are enormously proud to be launching ourselves now. Follow along with our socials.

bottom of page