Understanding web terms: Web standards and best practices are the foundation of websites. UI and UX design define our experience, good or bad.

What are they? And why do they matter?

Web standards, best practices, UI, and UX — when used correctly — create a powerful tool for sharing information on the internet. As website technology has evolved, we have learned that sharing information must be more than simply placing text and images on a page. We are not just building websites. We are building experiences for our website visitors. 

 We are creating experiences for people. 

Of course that experience can be good or bad.

A good experience begins with something that works like it should. The web industry has developed web standards and best practices to promote the best technical and cohesive experience for website visitors. Web standards are technical specifications and guidelines that are — or should be — followed by web designers and developers to build an interactive web experience that works.

Build it right.

Best practices (also called "standard web conventions") blend technology and people by providing a guideline for a cohesive web experience. There are best practices for almost every aspect of a website including navigation, links, headers, social media icons placement, and responsive (mobile-friendly) design. As we learn more about how people use websites and what people find helpful or frustrating, we refine best practices as an industry. 

Make it better.

Creating a positive experience for website visitors requires combining a great user interface, understanding how people will use a thing, and design elements with technical elegance. The user interface (UI) is how people interact with the website to find information. Navigation and buttons are examples of UI. When done well, the UI is intuitive, and website visitors do not have to work hard to find the information they want on the website. 

What is UX?

User experience design (UX) is designing for people whether it is a door handle or a website. In the wide world of websites, designing to accommodate how people will use the website leads to improvements in the experience for people. We have all experienced frustration because of poor website design. Misleading buttons can lead to wrong information or not work as expected. Sometimes it seems impossible to find information that should be on the website. Occasionally, we are faced with a daunting wall of text that may or may not have the right information.

"At the end of the day is how the user remembers the experience. Focus on key experiences."

Shawn Borsky

Designing with UX in mind:

  • Creates a positive web experience by improving how usable the website is
  • Anticipates issues website visitors may encounter through planning and user testing, and finds design solutions that improve the experience by improving the usability of the website
  • May create a "fun" experience for the website visitor through interaction
  • Utilizes design elements to create a clear path to desired information

It works. UX designers understand and listen to people. With planning and our own experience, we can avoid causing some frustrations for website visitors. Asking actual website visitors for feedback during a testing phase helps UX designers eliminate issues and find solutions that improve any visitor's experience. Website visitors may not even notice the combination of use of color, buttons, layout, headings, lists, imagery and other design tools that help them get to desired information with ease on a well designed website.