The UXI Live Israel Conference, taking place through Wednesday, is the local edition of a worldwide gathering of experts on proper user experience design and strategy, and set to discuss issues such as how hard or easy it is for users to navigate web sites or apps, whether or not a design enables or impedes access to features and how to plan design to ensure accessibility at every level of user engagement. “Sadly, and perhaps unbelievably, there are many who still haven’t gotten the memo: Without a design that facilitates, rather than hampers, the user experience, sites and app makers are losing out. With the right interface, however, they can assure themselves of increased user engagement and increased profits,” said user interface (UI) expert Barak Danin, who is organizing the event.

“UI needs to make sense to users,” said Danin. “It needs to be convenient, not requiring excessive mouse clicks or taps to get to features, presented in an interface that makes sense to users. In short, users shouldn’t have to waste their energy just getting to the features they want to engage with, because if they do, they are more than likely to just forget the whole thing.”

Poor UI is a major problem in the tech world, said Danin. When users find themselves frustrated because they can’t figure out how to use the app, it doesn’t mean they’re stupid, but that the brains behind the tech failed to take the user experience into account. “This happens because most of the start-ups that come up with the technology are run by techies, who are much more concerned with getting features to work than with how to present them. Until just a few years ago, UI was almost unknown in start-ups, and largely ignored even in big companies.” HP, for example, had five people working in UI as recently as three years ago, said Danin. Today, they have about 40, as awareness of what consumers want increases in the corporate world.

Proper UI isn’t just a boon for users, it is essential for the welfare of a company, Danin said. The UI expert, who has run UXI Live for four years, is an Israeli pioneer in the field, heading a design company to help businesses improve their UI game. One of Danin’s clients is Pizza Hut Israel, which, he said, “had an almost-impossible-to-use web site before we came into the picture. The site required excessive clicks, was very slow to load and asked users to enter their username and password several times, just to order a pizza.” Danin and his team “reformed” the site, he said, with sales from the website immediately shooting up by 40%. “It wasn’t that we worked any particular magic, other than making the ordering process simple and logical,” he added.

Many companies rely on QA (quality assurance) teams to come up with UI solutions, but that approach is a mistake, Danin said. “QA can only fix what’s put in front of it. Resolving a bug to access services or features may involve a workaround which they send out to users, but they are still likely to have to do a lot of clicking and pressing to get the features they want. Proper UI must be built into a site or app, as part of its very core. Hopefully, more companies will get that message and make life easier for site and app users.”