UI vs UX: All You Need to Know About the Design Differences

UI design and UX design are two different terms with one common factor- User. The terms UI design and UX design have been around for decades, but they cause confusion even today. While at times they are used interchangeably, other times, they are used to specify unrelated areas of design.

UI design and UX design are different aspects of a product development process but they come under the same umbrella. Their purpose, process, and mode of operation are all distinct. Both are equally important for a product and are, in fact, connected closely together, thus giving rise to all the confusion. Implementing the key UI UX design principles is important to create an interactive user experience. 

Wondering how you can understand the UI UX design differences? This guide will take you through the basics of UI and UX design-  from what each term means to how they are different, how they are connected, what a UI or UX designer does- it will provide clarity on all topics.

a man prototyping a design of mobile app

What is User Experience (UX) Design

The keyword here is experience. UX design focuses on creating a design that enhances the human experience when they interact with something. UX design can be applied to anything that humans can experience. It is not limited to the digital realm. It has a role whether a person is browsing a website, wearing socks, or putting together a desk chair.

Regardless of the medium, user experience takes into account how a user feels. Its aim is to answer questions such as how easy it is for users to reach their goal, how relevant is the path they follow, how effortless is their journey, etc. 

What Is the Role of a UX Designer

A UX designer comes into play at the very beginning of a design process with an aim to increase the quality of users’ experience. Ideally, they perform substantial user research to gather an understanding of the target users and their needs. They focus on how a product they are designing would help users- what problems it would solve, the pain points users might encounter, what users expect from their product, etc.

Once the needs are determined, a UX designer will lay out a path for the user’s journey to accomplish their goal. Here they consider questions like what tasks the user should undertake, what difficulties they might face, how to make their navigation better, etc. All of these are then put together to create a prototype of the final product. A UX designer’s focus is on improving the usability and utility of design while keeping it efficient and relevant. 

Office group discussion

Some of the tasks that a UX designer does are:

1. User Research

It comes first in a UX design process. The aim of user research is to provide real-life information, which is then kept as the foundation on which the product is built. It makes sure that the design is based on valid data rather than assumptions or expectations of the designer.

2. Design

The design part involves creating wireframes and prototypes from the researched data. This is crucial as it gives you a real-life model using which the design’s usability can be identified. While implementing a design, designers need to be familiar with UX design psychological principles so as to make truly user-oriented design.

Research data is utilized to structure the design in the process of wireframing. From this wireframe, a prototype is built. It involves experimentation and exploration of ideas of both the designer and the team to create a final product with maximum usability and functionality.

3. User Testing

Like any development process, UX testing is an integral part of UX design. Although user testing can be done once a product is live in the market, implementing it during the development stage itself helps to save cost and time. 

Using prototypes for testing makes it possible to easily identify problem areas and improve on them efficiently. Testing after product release can provide feedback from a more diverse audience. Testing can take the form of interviews, questionnaires, or surveys. 

What is User Interface (UI) Design

UI design focuses on the look and feel of a product. It is all about presentation. 

In contrast with UX design, UI design finds its application in a digital realm. It is the design of the interface that connects the user and the product. That is, we are talking about buttons, icons, images, fonts, etc. It encompasses everything that makes the interaction interface intuitive and interactive. 

Visual image is significant in UI design. Its aim is to create an aesthetically pleasing, interactive, product interface that speaks to the user of the brand identity.

What Is the Role of a UI Designer

A UI designer is a visual person. He is concerned with the look and feel, and interactivity of a design. A UI designer focuses on creating screens and other visual elements such as images, buttons, patterns, etc, to traverse the user from one point to another intuitively.   

With the aid of the prototype from UX designer, the UI designer starts working on the design’s visual aspects. UI designer aims to make the journey mapped out by UX designers aesthetic, intuitive, and interactive. A UI design process adds the visual and interactive elements to product development. 

Some of the main tasks that a UI designer does are:

1. Collaboration

A UI designer has to collaborate and communicate with various people in a team. They work with UX designers to gather information regarding user research and prototypes. And since developers will be working on their design, they collaborate with developers to build their design. They also communicate with clients to check if their design meets the client expectations

2. Design

Creating visual design is a major part of the job. The design should be interactive, consistent, and should carry a brand identity that makes them recognizable in a crowd.

3. Execution

The implementation of a design has to take careful considerations of several factors. Some of which are design’s responsiveness, animation, font, and typesetting, etc. This needs technical skills as well as an understanding of users’ perspectives.

How Do UI and UX Design Work Together

an office meeting

We saw the UI UX design differences. Now, let’s see how these two distinct yet connected areas work together.

A great UI design will make your product look exceptional, and a great UX design will make it very usable. Without one, the other will fail to create a mark. For a design to be successful, it needs the right balance of UI and UX. Both UI and UX must complement each other in such a way as to provide the user with a realistic outcome and a relevant experience.

Imagine that you came across a great looking website and wanted to perform an operation but the website gives no indication of what action you can take next to reach your goal. Would you spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to navigate yourself towards the goal, or would you look for another website that offers the same service?

The chances of you choosing the former is very small, right? This is what a poor UX design does even if the UI design is excellent. The same applies to excellent UX and poor UI as well. In today’s competitive market, to stand out it is crucial to have a product with both great UI and UX.

Why UI/UX Roles Are Advertised as One

Now that you are clear about the UI UX design differences, thinking why are they often advertised as a single job? There are two factors to this. One is that the UI UX differences are not widely recognized by everyone. A techie might differentiate the two correctly, but a recruiting manager need not necessarily have that clarity. The second factor is that companies actually look for designers who are well-versed in both fields. Since both areas of work do overlap, proficiency in both is a beneficial talent.

UI design takes care of the interaction between users and products, while UX design aims to improve the quality of this interaction.

What Are the Skills a UI UX Designer Should Have

a ux designer looking on a wall which consist of ux designs clipped

Keeping the UI UX differences aside and looking at both the fields from a broader perspective of design lets us look at some skills that one should have to become a good UI UX designer.

  • Drive: For any job, passion is an essential aspect. Passion makes one creative and aids his growth. A designer should be ever-growing and always full of passion for utilizing most of his creativity.
  • Curiosity: The design field is constantly evolving. Every few months, new UI UX design trends come upon the scene. A designer must be curious to understand and learn these trends to make their designs relevant and updated.
  • Empathy: UI UX design is all about people. So it is vital to be able to empathize with people, understand their needs and problems to make truly user-centric designs. 
  • Communication: A designer has to collaborate with people at different levels of the organization. It could be developers, marketing analysts, sales team, and even clients. The ability to openly communicate with others and also to understand others is crucial for betterment.
  • Aesthetics: It is a core quality that every designer should have. Even the tiniest factors such as balanced usage of colours, alignment, visual weight, etc, have a big impact on design. A designer must use aesthetics to enhance their design.

Designing is a creative process, but it is a process, nonetheless. It needs skills, but it also requires continuous evolution of the skills. Otherwise, your design will be outdated in a matter of time.

How to Learn UI UX Design Skills

Courses that provide an opportunity to learn UI UX design skills on an application level is comparatively less. One great way to learn the skills is by attending design workshops or seminars conducted by leading organizations in the field. This will give you practical design knowledge and an insight into the UI UX design process that mainstream organizations follow. 

Another way is to go online. The way education has been technologized, there isn’t any course that you can’t find online. Platforms such as Udemy, Skillshare provide free courses that can give you a basic introduction. To learn in-depth, you can choose paid courses that will have active mentoring and provide professional tutoring. Before choosing any course online, make sure you understand what exactly is being taught, how relevant and authentic it is.

How to Hire a Design Agency to Implement Your UI UX Design Needs

If you understand the importance of UI and UX design in products/services, you will agree that hiring a good UI UX design company is the best way to implement it. Today, several agencies offer UI UX design services. Traditional organizations, freelancers, offshore organizations- the market is vast.

It can be confusing to come to a decision. To help you, we have put together a list of things you should consider before hiring a design agency.

1. Enquire about their design process

A good UI UX design agency will have a mature design process. They will have a set approach to design and will be able to define it well to you. Their design process will give you insight into the agency’s expertise, commitment, and experience. Although the approach can be subject to customization, the organization must have a general process in place.

2. Review their previous work

You can gather a lot about a company’s design outlook when you look at their previous works. Depending on the area of a project, the design outlook would differ. But, it is possible to obtain a general idea, such as design consistency, readability, user-friendliness, etc, from previous client works. 

3. Level of involvement

Before hiring, it is important to come to terms with the level of involvement you require with the design process. While some people would give complete control to the agency and are concerned only about the outcome, others might look for more involvement all through the design process. Determine what type of involvement you want and discuss it with the agency to ensure their agreement to the same.

4. Deliverable and handover

Obtaining clarity on what the deliverables will be and how they will be handed over to developers is vital. What will the deliverables include, in which format will they be delivered- all these are necessary questions. It is also important to know how the design will be handed over to the development team to plan the development strategy accordingly.

two peoples shaking hands each other

These are some specific factors to consider while hiring a UI UX design agency. Also, keep in mind to take into account common factors such as authenticity, reliability, and communication skills of the organization. Aufait UX is a top UI UX design company in India that offers complete UI UX services, from research, design to development. Aufait UX has worked with some of the leading enterprises and startups worldwide and are proud of our happy clients and years of experience in the field. 

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