If you have ever worked for/with the design team, you might have overheard discussions about the fabulous UX of a product, or the weak UI of an app. Some of you might wonder, is it some secret language they utter, or are they just using trying to look hip?
Ok, probably yes to the latter. If you want to understand the difference between UI and UX, this means you are in the right direction.
Since the advent of technology, numerous people involve themselves in the design process. For aspiring designers, it is imperative to know the difference between UI and UX design.
The first and necessary step towards becoming an expert designer is by having an in-depth academic understanding of design. In the last few decades, UX UI design is gaining notoriety in the tech industry. UX and UI help fix problems when it comes to designing quality products and bring ease and pleasure to its users. Decorated job titles like UX Designer or UI designer have emerged as the future front of design roles. Tech giants aiming to build seamless products have made the usual pair – UX/UI design, a priority. However, its meaning, roles and responsibilities are unfamiliar even to many industries as it is still upcoming – with exponential growth.
How would I Define UX?
If I am to do so, I would recount the summary of an article by Don Norman and Jakob Nielsen, which said that UX encompasses all aspects of the end-users interaction with the company, its services, and its products.
What is UI/UX?
After the introduction of the computer, commands were given by those who knew how to code. The invention of graphical user interface (GUI) brought along some significant changes – the creation of windows and the addition of drop-down menus, and unique icons for navigation. And the computer became an easy-to-use device.
Today, quality websites include visual design choices that make it easy for a user to get what they want. UI stands for the user interface, which uses screens, buttons, its pages and other visual elements to help a user interact with it. UI designers focus on UX by making easy-to-use products like websites and apps.
UX stands for user experience design -which is the overall experience that a user gains when they interact with a specific product. A simple difference between UI and UX is that the user interface is part of user experience design, but it can also incorporate much more. It is all about getting someone from point A to B in a seamless process for the user.
Some theories that involve a UX include:
- The process they have to go through to discover your product.
- The series of choices they have to make as they interact with the interface.
- Their feelings and behaviour as they try to complete the task at hand.
- The first impression they make from their interaction.
A great UX design can lead to better interaction between a consumer and the product.
Why Does UI/UX Matter?
In our current fast-paced society, the most successful apps or websites are the ones that respond swiftly. The fact is – the consumer sets the standard. If your product takes ten seconds longer to load or find a product as compared to your rival, it will reflect in the reports. Often, users search to get an understanding of the subject. You can notice the difference between UI and UX here as with a great UI, and the overall UX is enhanced. Even if the users are casually browsing, great designs help them navigate in the most efficient way possible, to meet their needs.
Separating UX UI design
As I mentioned before – UX design refers to user experience design, while UI design stands for user interface design. Both of these are crucial to any digital product and need to work harmoniously together. Despite being reliable on each other, the roles themselves are quite different, involving distinct processes. Let us try and understand the difference between UI and UX.
UI and UX Design
Many organizations have woken up to the fact that they need a UI/UX Designers to succeed in attracting, interacting and retaining customers.
UX design is still in its nascent stage, and part of the confusion lies within the name – UX design. Numerous people associate the word design with creativity, colours and graphics. But its true meaning lies in the functionality as to how seamless the experience is for the users. It is one of the core difference between UI and UX.
Knowing who the user is and how to make their experience with your product flawless is the duty of the design team. As such, usability, functionality and user-adaptability ranks high on their priorities for the product. UX designers focus on the development of the product.
However, we can apply the theory and process to just about anything –
- Context and Planning –
- Competitor and Customer Analysis
- Content Development
- Product Strategy
- Prototyping and Wireframing –
- Further Development Scheme
- Analytics and Execution –
- Coordination with teams of UX UI Design(s)
- Coordination with coders.
- Tracking goals and assimilation.
- Analysis and emphasis.
The role of UX is tangled, as it is challenging and multifaceted. You would also notice mentions of analysis or testing. It is another difference between UI and UX. In reality, I would put it in between every other step on the checklist. Ultimately the aim was to connect to user’s needs through a process of continuous refinement towards that which satisfies the user.
|Definition of UI Wikipedia defines User interface design (UI) as the design of user interfaces for machines and software, such as computers, mobile devices, with the focus on maximizing usability and the user experience.|
How would you like it if you are to crack a joke and later explain its premise? Pretty bad, I am guessing? A user interface is something similar. If you have to explain it, I assume it is not that good.
Let me simplify it further. Think of your product like an aeroplane. Now, assume that the UX is the cockpit, and the complicated controls are the UI. Without its controls, the cockpit is useless, and so is the plane. It is another difference between UI and UX. Hence, creating a great UI is always a challenge, mostly because it has to be inherent.
If you conduct a random survey asking people whether they would choose an Android or an iOS device, many would respond by choosing the latter, even though Android is more customizable compared to iOS. Why is that so? If you ask them, many choose to respond, saying, “I find the Apple phone much more intuitive.” What people mean is that Apple products have a more consistent look and feel. Apple’s UI is embedded in the UX so well, and it just makes the overall design look seamless, in turn, making the product feel intuitive.
The job of a UI Designer includes –
- Look and Feel –
- Customer Review.
- Design Research.
- Graphic and Branding Development.
- User Guides.
- Responsiveness and Interactivity –
- User Interface Prototyping.
- Adaptation to all Screen sizes.
- Implementation by the coders.
A UI designer makes technology accessible and intuitive for people to use. It is another difference between UI and UX. UI designers operate in areas where users interact with the product directly.
UX vs. UI design
User experience is the experience a user gains from a product. To distinguish between good and bad user experience design, we must interact with each element or aspect of a product.
The research UX design involves helps a UX designer understand the pain points of the user, market gaps, and rival review. Besides, UX also takes into account the business goals and objectives to build products that align with the vision and mission of the organization. That is another difference between UI and UX. The best practices are to improve user interaction and perception of the product.
We have already discussed the responsibilities of a UX Designer previously, so I choose not to indulge you in those details again. Know this, UX Designers are not only responsible for preplanning and preparing the technology behind the product, but they are also responsible for the user interactions both online and offline.
UI design – Its focus
The focus of UI design is on the look and layout – how each element of the product will look, including buttons, text, images, or any other visual interface elements.
UX design determines the functionality of the interface and impressions, and UI design creates an interface’s look and feel. It is another difference between UI and UX. UX handles the conceptual aspects, whereas UI focuses on the aesthetic characteristics of the product to make the websites, apps, themes, plugins etc. look elegant to the user.
UX designers conduct market research and review to understand the needs of the customer before designing the product. UI designers update themselves on design trends that evolve as per the tastes and behaviour changes in the customer.
In our multi-screen era, where handheld devices are prevalent, responsive UI design is integral. The ultimate goal of a responsive UI design is to make interfaces compatible with any screen size instead of creating different versions. It is another difference between UI and UX. UI designers enhance the interface to match any screen size, so keeping the product appeal consistent.
UI design creates the appearance of a product. It forms the personality – connects to the user and building trust. The role of a UI designer also requires them to be a team player – to be able to collaborate.
The main differences between UX and UI
To distinguish the primary differences between UX and UI, we must look at the responsibilities of a UX and UI designers –
Functionality vs Quality of Interaction
UX helps create the purpose and functionality of the product. UI helps develop the quality of interaction with the product. It is another difference between UI and UX.
Aesthetics vs Research
UI design deals with the aesthetics, as in what the user views, listens to, and feels. UX deals with research and interacting with consumers to understand their needs. It is another difference between UI and UX. UX design is mainly concerned about the user’s expectations of the product. The goal of UX is to solve problems for the user. Stepping into the shoes of your user doesn’t mean your design is neglecting to serve your business goals. A Call-To-Action (CTA) can remind your users about certain restrictions in their current plan and offer an opportunity to pay and enjoy the bonuses of an upgraded plan.
Management vs Technicality
UX focuses onmanagement and analysis through thinking, assimilation, and execution. UI acts as a technical component to produce the design components for the finished product. It is another difference between UI and UX.
The most crucial difference between UI and UX is that they have further use for prototyping. The reason is straightforward too. UI is more attentive towards the interface- the front end, while UX focuses on the back end.
The choice of colours
UI designers manage to design visually aesthetic prototypes. On the other hand, UX designers generally use three colours to start their prototype design – black, white and grey. This difference between UI and UX can be seen commonly in designing and using icons.
The choice of tools
Based on the many differences in their roles, the tools UI and UX designers use are also different. For UI designers, aesthetics is of the utmost importance. They use tools such as Principle or Flinto that have an advantage of interlinking to Sketch. InVision’s team collaboration function ranks supreme making it a rival alternative. A critical difference between UI and UX is that UX designers favour wireframe as it saves time and makes designing more efficient. Some of the best prototyping tools such as Figma, Adobe XD or Axure with its comprehensive functions.
Conclusion – UX and UI live in harmony.
UX and UI require different strengths and cognitive processes. UX designer bases their designs on the needs of the users, while we base the UI design on the research, references, and specifications of the UX designer.
Research results, wireframes, and prototypes are UX deliverables. Whereas mockups, layouts, and graphics are UI deliverables. UX designers tend to think strategically, while UI designers concentrate on the aesthetic side of things. Another difference between UI and UX – UX is a mix of science, and UI is more of a form of art.
If you wish to proceed with UX or UI as a career, it should be essential for you to understand the subtle difference between UI and UX and which role will best suit your strengths.