In the world of UI/UX, customization and personalization are highly fashionable words in the world of design and development world. While users often mix up these words interchangeably, there is a subtle difference between both the provisions. So as to understand the terms, it is crucial to analyze the goals. Both customization and personalization aim to achieve the same objective based on the user’s interests.

Customization in UI/UX

Customization is mainly done by the user to make changes in terms of their specific needs by configuring layout, content, or functionality. Customization takes user experience to the next level owing to the control to maintain interaction. After all, users get to continue what exactly they want and are in control.

Customization turns the cliché “Customers are king” into truth. The primary approach behind this theory is that users know best their goals and exactly how to achieve their objectives. Thus, it is placed a higher value on the natural intelligence of users over artificial intelligence related to the system.

Classic examples of customization include interface customization, where the user is allowed to select based on preferences. One such example would be of popular networking site Facebook, which will enable users to choose the content found on their preferences. Also, Facebook offers the option to turn on notifications for individual people, pages, or posts.

Customization lets users to selection based on their choice regarding what to see or set preferences for how information is organized or displayed.

Personalization UI/UX

Personalization is done based on the principle of intelligence by the app itself. Based on the users’ preferences and usage patterns, the app tries to provide highly personalized and contextual information. App strives to deliver users the content, offers, or features that match their needs. This type of personalization not only brings value to customers but also takes the level of loyalty to the new high.

Personalization has become an integral part of designing a digital system due to the ability to build a connection with the end-user. The main goal of personalization is to provide contextual experience by delivering content and functionality that aligns with specific user needs or interests without any particular effort from users.

The app profiles the user and aligns the interface according to that profile. A critical step in creating an intuitive experience that is personalized, presenting users with highly relevant content. Sending push notifications based on users know when favorite shows are available. Netflix has set the benchmark of personalized push notifications. For instance, it uses push notifications to inform users to know about their favorite shows availability.

Making the paradigm shift from customization to personalization

Customization is a long-standing demand that users have come to expect in their interactions. But the situation has changed, and today’s path is towards personalization. This shift is gaining popularity with the fact that customization comes across with higher interaction cost.

When you empower the user to customize, the burden is shifted on the user, and most users don’t like to tweak the settings. Also, customization of experiences became a seemingly tricky task with mobile devices, mostly because of varying screen sizes. There isn’t a lot of flexibility to build custom designed interfaces for literally every user out there on a small mobile screen.

Essential Elements of Personalization in UI/UX

Identify your target audience

To effectively personalize, it is essential to know your target audience. If you have a clear idea of who you are serving, you can personalize effectively. It is vital to create target audience groups based on demographics, interests, attributes, past buying patterns, or the actual state of the buying process. Based on your research and target audience, you can personalize your UX. If you know who you are catering to, you can do it better.

Know your goals

What do you seek from personalization? Prepare a list of questions regarding your goal from personalization.

  • Are you looking at it from marketing, sales, or business perspective?
  • Do you want to increase leads?
  • Do you want higher sales?
  • Do you want to enhance brand value?
  • Are you trying to retain customers?

It might also include all the points above. The point is, you need to set a goal for what you are trying to achieve by targeting an audience, and deciding how much effort is required.

List of elements to personalize

Once you have identified the specific target audience and recognized both your long-term and short-term goals, you will need to identify and list the elements of the website or app that need to be changed or personalized, based on users’ profiles or behavior.

Content, articles, images, and features can all be personalized. It can be as simple as referring to users by their name and it can be as elaborate as creating a personalized homepage based on a user’s activities.

The most commonly used pattern is to personalize the homepage. But what if a user seeks to navigate to an inner page through a search result? It is essential to personalize high-traffic pages and landing points across the site or app by studying the typical user flow.


Just like a snowflake, every user is different. The key to effective designing knows the user well. Effective customization/personalization is based on understanding users well. The process of customization and personalization requires ongoing and persistence. Personalization requires periodic reviews to ensure that appropriate content is going to the right profiles, and customization allows users to make changes based on factors such as interests or preferences.

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