Even though both user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) come under the same umbrella in web design, these terms are frequently used interchangeably despite their different definitions and purposes. For newbie designers, understanding the difference between them is the key in establishing general web development knowledge, developing skills, and breaking into the UX/UI design field.
In this article, I will discuss the differences between UX Design and User Interface (UI) Design at length and what is the job of a designer.
What is a User Experience (UX) Design?
User experience is the user’s journey when they use your product or service. It is a process of providing meaningful experiences to users of your products or services. UX involves several different areas of product development, such as usability, design, functions, and branding.
You can think of UX design as a user’s entire process when interacting with a product or service. How does a user come across your service or product; through blogs, advertising, or something else? What kind of interaction does he have with the brand, and how he feels about it? These and many more are the major considerations within UX design.
A UX designer’s main goal is to ensure each user interacts positively with a product or service. Whether they find your product or service helpful, does it solve their problem, help them find critical information, provide entertainment, or leave the user feeling fulfilled?
What is a User Interface Design?
UI design is the actual interface with which users engage. The UI design process includes creating buttons, widgets, images, text, sliders, and other interactive elements. A UI designer’s primary goal is to ensure that every graphic design, animation, and transition in a product or service provides a positive user experience.
The Differences Between UX and UI Design
UX and UI designers work closely together, so it’s common to confuse UX and UI design with one another. They work with different components of the design of a product or service. Sometimes their roles overlap, but here are a few key differences between them:
|UX Design||UI Design|
The feel of using the product or service
The look and function of the product’s visual element
Ensures an easy and consistent flow for the users
Works on the individual elements; buttons, pages, texts, images, etc., ensuring they are functional and updated
Creates testable prototypes and wireframes that are the base of a user flow
Finalizes the design of the product for user engagement
Feel vs. Look
The roles of UX and UI are related but different in a product’s development. UX design focuses on the overall feel of the product or service. It works on the components that lead to a meaningful, relevant user experience. On the other hand, UI design deals with the look of a product, the visual components, and the interactive elements that give a positive user experience.
Prototyping vs. Design
UX designers create testable prototypes and wireframes that are the basis of user flow when they use the product or service. Meanwhile, a UI designer works on the product’s design to drive user engagement.
Details vs. High-Level
UI designers create individual components, buttons, pages, and interactions. They make sure these components are functional and polished. On the other hand, UX designers ensure the site or mobile apps provide a consistent collective user flow.
How do UX and UI Designers Work Together?
UI and UX designers have different responsibilities, but both comprise a website’s entire usability design process. They are complementary contributors to a positive, intuitive user journey. A website’s UX elements, feel and client-facing messaging are built on top of the UI design, technical structure, and aesthetic. Both professions work in coordination to benefit the overall product or service to provide a positive impression on users.
Major Responsibilities of UX Designers
Mainly, UX designers work on strategy development, implementation, testing, and analysis of the overall design and performance of the product or service. Here are some of the major responsibilities of a UX designer.
Content Strategy Development:
A UX designer focuses on the planning, creation, and execution of content. The content can be in the form of text, images, and videos on a website page. Developing a content strategy is not the main responsibility of a UX designer, but many companies emphasize on content-driven design for a more effective experience.
Tasks for developing a content strategy may include:
- Content mapping and auditing
- Customer analysis
- Competitor analysis
Prototyping and testing are some of the most important parts of the UX design process. Designs go through several tests before they are finalized and approved.
The main tasks for testing designs include:
- Wireframing the basic structure of designs
- A/B testing between text layouts, button placements, and other design elements
- Prototyping designs to text for function
The best UX designs require a lot of research on different problems and their solutions with a specific design. UX research may involve surveys, questionnaires, product testing, or research methodologies based on the goal of the design. For example, quantitative data from questionnaires and surveys will show how users utilize a new feature, while qualitative data can show how users feel about the design of the product or service. Conducting the right research helps redesign a product or service according to the users’ needs, which has a huge impact on the product’s performance.
Common tasks for consumer research may include:
- Adopting and designing the right research methodology
- Conducting research through questionnaires, focus groups, surveys, etc.
- Analyzing data gathered from the research.
Coordination and Analysis
A UX designer works with a broader design team to plan, develop strategy, and execute and analyze projects’ performance after implementation.
Common tasks related to coordination and analysis include:
- Planning for future projects
- Analyzing existing designs
- Tracking the performance of designs
Major Responsibilities of a UI Designer
A UI designer focuses on the specifics of the interface of a product or service. They choose fonts, create visual elements, and make pages and other individual components visually appealing to meet the product’s objectives. They oversee the overall style and functionality of the design.
Create and Maintain Brand Style
UI designers establish a defined brand style which is crucial for most businesses these days. This is an important component in the UI design process from a usability standpoint. Their main goal is to ensure the product or service’s design is aesthetically consistent with the brand’s theme and goal.
Creating and maintaining brand style may include tasks like:
- Create brand style guides
- Implementing a brand’s style consistently across a product or service
- Maintain accessible design standards
Create Visual Design
UI designers build and optimize the product’s components, including color, typography, buttons, and other elements that help in a strong interface.
Building visual design may include tasks such as:
- Coloring elements of a website or service
- Designing buttons and other clickable elements
- Choosing fonts and typesetting
Create Interaction Design
UI designers often develop and implement the interactive components of products or services, including animations, images, pictures, etc., to make users take a certain action.
Tasks for creating an interactive design may include:
- Creating animations
- Developing interactive elements like photos or videos
- Managing how content reacts when the users interact with it
Developing Responsive Design
Products or services must be made responsive to make them accessible across various devices, such as desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. Responsiveness is especially important for web designing, so the websites are usable on every screen.
Tasks to make responsive design may include:
- Developing easily resizable vector elements
- Making flexible website or program layouts
- Developing responsive design style guides
Why UX and UI are important?
UX and UI are complementary roles and are naturally related to one another. With a knowledge of both, professionals of either discipline can contribute to a more cohesive design process that gives a better final product.
Also, UX design skills are in high demand these days, and a strong understanding of both UX and UI design will benefit those looking to capitalize on this growing demand.