When it comes to web designing there are several of terms and phrases that will always slay the importance, most important two of these terms are UI design and UX design. To begin with, it is nice to know what UX and UI stand for. UX design stands for User experience design and UI design decodes User Interface design. The difference might seem a bit clear now. But it can still be complicated. Because they will always work together. UI is the saddle, the stirrups, and the reigns.
UX is that feeling you get for being able to ride a horse and rope your cattle.
We have all overheard many conversations, walking down those hip streets of world’s tech capitals, discussions about how great ‘UX’ is as of a product, or the poor ‘UI’ is as of a website. Is it a secret language you will never be privy to? Are these people just using slang to look cool? Well, ok probably yes to the latter one, yet a determinate NO to the rest. Read on to learn what these terms mean. Which jobs pays better? And how to become a UX designer or UI designer.
The Acronyms Unveiled
The people you have eavesdropped on are actually discussing two professions that despite having been around for decades. And in theory, have been defined for centuries. By the tech industry as UX Design vs UI Design.
UX Design refers to the term User Experience Design, and the UI Design stands for User Interface Design. Both elements are crucial to a product and work closely together. But despite their professional relationships, the roles themselves quite are the different, referring to the very different parts of the process and design discipline. Where UX Design is quite the analytical and technical field. UI Design is rather close to what we refer to as graphic design. Though the responsibilities are somewhat more complex.
What is UX design?
The term UX design was coined by cognitive scientist Don Norman in the early 1990’s while he was VP of the Advanced Technology Group at Apple.
Here’s how he formally defines it:
“‘User experience’ encompasses all aspects of the end user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”
In an email explaining the origin of the term, Norman wrote:
“I invented the term because I thought Human Interface and usability were too narrow: I wanted to cover all aspects of the person’s experience with a system, including industrial design, graphics, the interface, the physical interaction, and the manual. Since then, the term has spread widely. So much so that it is now starting to lose its meaning.”
In simple language, UX design stands for designing the experience along with the feeling a user get. There are few things on a website that decides the experience of a user whether it will be good or bad. You can think about many ads. A weak or even not working link. A bad content structure, too much text or distractions. Like moving objects on one page. These are the basic things that disturb a users experience. Regrettably, the website is not mere the only thing what has an effect on the experience of the user. There are as well other things too.
The experience gets affected by the whole experience with a company and even things that are external like reviews on other websites. This small dots creates a bigger picture. In order to produce a good user experience, it is important to think about what you wish the users to expect when thinking about as well interacting with a company. While making a UX design the designer aims to connect business goals to users needs through a process of testing and refinement.
As is found on Wikipedia:
User experience design (UXD or UED) is the process of enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty by improving the usability, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the customer and the product.
Clear, right? Well, you might note immediately that despite what I implied in the introduction, the definition has no reference to tech, no mention of digital, and vague at best. But like all professions, it’s impossible to distil the process from just a few words.
Some confusion in the definition of the term itself is due to its youth. Don Norman, a cognitive scientist and co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group Design Consultancy, is credited with inventing the term in the late 1990’s declaring that”User experience” encompasses all aspects of the end user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”
This implies that regardless of its medium, UX Design encompasses any and all interactions between a potential or active customer and a company. As a scientific process, it could be applied to anything, street lamps, cars, Ikea shelving and so on.
However! Despite being a scientific term, its use since inception has been almost entirely within digital fields; one arguable reason for this being that the industry started blowing up around the time of the term’s invention. Another arguable reason being that it was just a fancy way of rewarding a practice that has already existed for hundreds of years known as “Market Research”; and boy does designers love fancy.
But don’t let me confuse you, User Experience Design is not a market research job.
Though it does utilize many of the same techniques to achieve a complex end goal: The structure, analysis, and optimization of a customer’s experience with a company and its products.
If you’ve never seen User Experience work in practice, never even used the term at work, it’s still difficult to imagine what User Experience Designers actually do. At CareerFoundry we’ve developed a UX course that focuses on the process which I will use to illustrate the profession.
Here is a cliff notes example of a UX Designer’s responsibilities as laid out by our course. It is targeted at the development of digital products, but the theory and process can be applied to anything:
Strategy and Content:
- Competitor Analysis
- Customer Analysis
- Product Structure/Strategy
- Content Development
Wireframing and Prototyping:
- Development Planning
- Execution and Analytics
Coordination with UI Designer(s):
- Coordination with Developer(s)
- Tracking Goals and Integration
- Analysis and Iteration
So part marketer, part designer, part project manager; the UX role is complex, challenging and multi-faceted. You see that iteration of the product, as connected to analysis or testing is indeed mentioned twice, but in reality, you would put it in between every other item on the list. Ultimately the aim is to connect business goals to user’s needs through a process of testing and refinement to that which satisfies both sides of the relationship.
So in conclusion:
- User Experience Design is the process of development and improvement of quality interaction between a user and all facets of a company.
- Always remember, User Experience Design is responsible for being hands on with the process of research, testing, development, content, and prototyping to test for quality results.
- And finally, User Experience Design is in theory a non-digital (cognitive science) practice. But used and defined predominantly by digital industries. The lesson to be learned here is that if you’re interested in sociology. In cognitive science, in people and in great products, User Experience is a good place to be. But you will understand those principles and are more visually inclined. You might look at its brother-in-arms: User Interface Design.
Want to know more about me and this post? Check out this video we put together with even more info for our readers on what being a UX or UI Designer really means. You get to see my lovely face too. Let me know what you think!
What is UI design?
This one is important.UI design! on a different note is about the real graphic design of a website. So the way it looks and animations are used is an important case here. A user interface is an important part that makes it possible for every user to communicate with the computer and makes the experience easier and simpler. While being a user interface designer you are both a visual as an interaction designer.Psychology of colors and the states of the elements are a huge fact here. User satisfaction is the main motto here, this must be remembered. The idea is to do their necessities and expectations.
Despite it being an older and more practiced field, the question of “What is user interface design?” is difficult to answer by its ranging variety of misinterpretations. While User Experience is a conglomeration of tasks focused on optimization of a product for effective and enjoyable use. User Interface Design is its compliment, the look and feel, the presentation and interactivity of a product. But like UX, it is easily and often confused by the industries that employ UI Designers. To the extent that different job posts will often refer to the profession as completely different things.
If you look at job posts for User Interface Design, you will mostly find interpretations of the profession that are akin to graphic design. Sometimes extending also to branding design and even front end development.
If you look at expert definitions of User Interface Design, you will mostly find descriptions that are in part identical to User Experience design. Even referring to the same structural techniques.
So which one is right? The sad answer is: Neither
But both are close in some ways. Like User Experience Design, User Interface Design is a multi-faceted and challenging role. It is responsible for the transference of a product’s development, research, content, and layout into an attractive, guiding and responsive experience for users. It is also a field that unlike UX, is a strictly digital profession as per its dictionary definition:
♦ User Interface
♦ Noun Computing: The means by which the user and a computer system interact, in particular, the use of input devices and software.
We explain in much greater detail what the definition and role of UI Design are, as well as teach you the skills required to become a UI designer in the CareerFoundry UI Design Course. This includes its relationship to the brand, graphic/visual, and front-end design. Regardless of whether you choose UX design or UI design, it’s important to understand how the other one works and, crucially, how to work with them.
Let’s have a quick look at the UI designer’s responsibilities:
- Look and Feel
- Customer Analysis
- Design Research
- Branding and Graphic Development
- User Guides/Storyline
- Responsiveness and Interactivity:
- UI Prototyping
- Interactivity and Animation
- Adaptation to All Device Screen Sizes
- Implementation with Developer
As a visual and interactive designer, the UI role is crucial to any digital interface and for customers a key element to trusting a brand.While the brand itself is never solely the responsibility of the UI designer, its translation to the product is.
You’ll also note the final point which states a responsibility for “implementation” of the design with a developer. While this is generally how UI jobs have worked in the past, you should be aware that the lines are blurring. As the term “Web Designer” essentially a UI designer. Are codes being replaced? And just by the expertise of User Interface Designers? While UX has no need for coding, UI is a role that as time progresses, will rely on it as part of building interactive interfaces.
So in conclusion:
- User Interface Design is responsible for the transference of a brand’s strengths and visual assets to a product’s interface as to best enhance the user’s experience.
- Well, User Interface Design is a process of visually guiding the user through a product’s interface via interactive elements and across all sizes/platforms.
- And another point to notice, User Interface Design is a digital field, which includes responsibility for cooperation and work with developers or code.
Or in analogical terms, UI design produces a product’s: Skin – a product’s visual/graphic presentation. Senses a product’s reactivity and interactivity in response to a user’s input or different display environments. And makeup – a product’s guides, hints, and directives that visually leads users through their experience.
So now the question is what is the real difference?
Even tough there are a lot of correlations and projections between the two professions, I hope the difference is a bit obvious. Where UX design is about a feeling of an entire company, UI design is rigidly about the digital design. Say considering a website. For example, UX can be compared to the skeleton of human and organs. And UI is the beautifiers. So the skin and visual presence of a person can be presented in a much more appreciated way. This two is very important in a website. So it is a must to understand the differences clearly.
Is One More Important Than The Other?
If you’ve read the above paragraphs you already know the answer. But in case you’re unsure, allow me to quote designer and expert Helga Moreno. Who her article The Gap Between UX And UI Design put it quite eloquently:
“Something that looks great but is difficult to use is exemplary of great UI and poor UX. While Something very usable that looks terrible is exemplary of great UX and poor UI.”
So you see, they are both crucial, and while there are millions of examples of great products with one and not the other, imagine how much more successful they might have been when strong in both fields.
And let’s face it, both roles are still confusing and misinterpreted. And falsely sought after. So if you’re looking to get into these fields, it’s not a matter of which is more important. But based on the descriptions above which is more attractive to you.
What do you think?
A lot of folks mix up these terms and use them interchangeably. Like Don Norman said, “they just sort of entered the vocabulary and no longer have any special meaning. People use them often without having any idea why, what the word means, its origin, history, or what it’s about.”
So, what do you think? What’s the difference between UI and UX? We need to use them interchangeably. Or do they mean different things?
BRINGING IT Altogether
Really, though, talking about these two fields in isolation is great for a bit of mental acumen. But when it comes to working on them, they are completely related. They are fields. That should never be separated in the workplace. And they are fields where the two creatives who perform these jobs shouldn’t work with different directives.
There is an interdependent aspect to a lot of what we do in the design world. But this really isn’t one of those times. Similarly to how a Creative Director or Scrum Master doesn’t want to leave his team to run on their own. The UI and UX parties should never run on their own without coordination from the other. I firmly believe in that from past experience.
In summation, I think that UI and UX is a topic of much debate. And one that honestly is true to form when it comes to a debate. It enhances the knowledge of both parties in the debate on both topics that are subject to it. It is really an amazing situational topic. And one that you should discuss with your designer friends if you can or when you get a chance. I know I’ve had many a dinner conversation over this exactly. Well, it should turn out to be quite heated all simple. Because one believes another’s metaphors aren’t accurately displaying. What the difference is (hence why I put the disclaimer at the top of the article).
To make it a bit more apparent you can always keep in remembrance:
“Something that looks great but is difficult to use is an example of great UI and poor UX. While Something very usable that looks terrible is an example of great UX and poor UI.”