A Simple Guide to UX vs. UI for Medical Web Design

ui/ux for medical website designThe fundamentals of UX Design and UI Design are ideas that were around long before the internet, but what do they actually mean?

In simple terms, UX Design (user experience design) refers to how a person feels when interacting with a system (this could be a web or mobile application, website, or desktop software). UI Design (user interface design) refers to how everything fits into a device with which a human being can interact (such as a display screen or mouse). In a rapidly changing world of healthcare mobile app development and medical web design, where users spending more time online to research medical conditions and healthcare providers on the go, excellent UX and UI are becoming even more important in all mhealth technologies.

Imagine healthcare web design as a human body. First, there are the bones, which represent the code – this gives it structure. Next the organs, which represent UX design, to ensure everything functions inside. Finally, we have UI design, which represents the cosmetics of the body – how it looks, senses, and reacts.

Both are important elements of healthcare web design – you need the entire package to function in harmony, convert satisfied visitors into patients, and build brand loyalty.

UX Design

The main focus of user experience design is to improve the usability, ease of use, and pleasure of an interaction between the customer and the product. The UX designer role is complex and covers market and competitor research, design and execution, and analysis. However, the ultimate aim of this kind of medical web design is to connect the goals of a healthcare organization with the needs of customers. Usually, a process of testing, analysis, and refinement is undertaken to reach the best results in mhealth technologies.

In other words, UX is ultimately about the process of development and improvement of quality interactions between the patient and the healthcare organization. To keep existing patients in-network and bring new patients to the healthcare organization, medical web designers need to facilitate genuine communication in mhealth technologies so that it feels like there is a human on the other end, not a computer. A positive medical web design experience on a healthcare website or using a mHealth app can also lead to an increased interest in your healthcare services, higher patient engagement, and a higher propensity to share your content and brand message.

UI Design

User Interface Design is the look, feel and presentation of a product. UI Design transfers the visual assets of your brand to a product’s interface to help guide customers through the various platforms (web, mobile, etc.). It provides the “skin” – the visual presentation and works to lead users through their experience in a functional way.

In many medical web design cases, the boundary between a UI designer role and a UX designer role can get a little blurry, and sometimes it can be a combined role. But in essence, the UI role is one of a visual and interactive designer, crucial to building trust among patients who visit your healthcare website and mhealth technologies.

Healthcare web design and mHealth app development should inspire interest and conversation about your healthcare brand and services. Think about what emotions you want your site to convey to your user and how you want them to feel – this is fundamental to a great user interface and effective medical web design.

If you are missing the emotion on your site, people simply won’t connect with your brand and service. The more your users feel on your site and mhealth technologies, the greater the level of engagement, which leads to more time spent on your site and the desire to bookmark it and return.  

When it comes to working with UX and UI, they should never be addressed in isolation – they must both work to serve the same purpose and with the same directive. When that happens in medical web design, you can achieve the right balance to power a positive online patient experience.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2016, and has been updated with current sources and more information about mHealth as a growing field where the UX and UI concepts must be applied.

Gretchen Kalthoff is a writer and marketing specialist for MWE. She is an expert in healthcare marketing and health IT with a special interest in increasing patient engagement through social media and healthcare technologies.
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