I didn’t understand for a long time what people were talking about when they discussed UI/UX design. I didn’t even know what the acronyms stood for (User Interface/User Experience) for longer than I care to admit, and they were terms that I originally only associated with app development. They’ve become a crucial part of the vocabulary for design of anything interactive, from websites to applications and video games.
Recently a new game that I have been playing went through a major UI redesign. The differences didn’t change the basic gameplay itself, but drastically refined the in-game menus to make them easier to navigate and understand. For some seasoned players the changes seemed annoying and unnecessary but, for a new player like me, the reorganization was incredibly helpful.
As designers we don’t think about print pieces as being “interactive”. Words like navigation and interface aren’t typically used to describe a print piece, because we don’t think they apply. But the truth is that UI/UX design and print design aren’t as different as we think they are. User experience is absolutely just as critical to print design as it is to web and game design, because ALL of it is interactive – just because we experience it in a different way doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be focused on how we interact with it.
When we consider print through the idea of “user experience”, even something as small as a business card, we start to think beyond what “looks good” and consider the information we’re presenting and making sure that it’s readable and organized. We think about the tactile nature of paper and finishing and how we could increase the impact of a piece if we changed any of those factors. We look at headings and titles and tables of contents to make sure that information is presented in ways that are easily broken down and organized. We rethink our imagery to make sure we’re eliciting the right emotional response and presenting our brands in the best way possible.
It’s important to remember that print is just as interactive as any other type of media, so long as we’re paying attention to the same principals of design, interface and experience.