With the evolution of the web, we are introduced to more and more new terms, making it harder to keep up. When creating a web or mobile application, one of the biggest concerns is to provide users with the best experience possible. This goal was the main factor that led to the growth of user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design.
UX design and UI design are two terms that are often grouped and confused with one another. Despite the apparent connection between them, they are not the same thing.
In this article, you'll see what UX and UI are. You'll understand their differences, how they work together, and why both deserve equal consideration.
What Is UX design?
Let's start things off by diving into more details about what UX is all about. Interactions between a product and a user are considered a part of the user experience. UX design takes into consideration all the elements that affect the experience of the users. How does it make them feel, and how simple is it for them to complete their desired tasks while using the product? Consider developing an e-commerce web application. If the checkout process is lengthy, overly complicated, and poorly designed, you'll have a negative user experience that you're unlikely to repeat. However, if the process is quick, simple, and straightforward, you'll have a positive user experience.
An obvious question is how do UX designers ensure that users have a positive experience? They thoroughly research the market and develop a product strategy to determine what the user wants and needs given a particular situation. Their findings are then used to develop products that prioritize the user. A UX designer will first identify who their target users are and what their expectations are for the product or service they are designing. The user research phase includes conducting face-to-face interviews, creating online questionnaires and surveys, observing existing or potential users, and creating personas.
A big part of UX and a significant characteristic of a successful UX designer is empathy. To design UX that works for users, the designer must be able to empathize with them. The UX designer's responsibility is to determine what journey the user is attempting to complete and map out the most appropriate user flow. After that, they create wireframes and prototypes, which are tested and iterated until the final design is complete. User experience design is primarily concerned with achieving optimal functionality, understanding the user, and mapping their most optimal and logical journey. UX design is also directly linked to business, taking into account not only the goals of the users but also those of the company. Unlike UI design, which you'll see right away, UX design is not concerned with aesthetics or trying to make things look better.
What Is UI Design?
Now let's explore the second design term, UI, which is short for user interface. The purpose of UX design is to improve the user's product experience. In contrast, UI design focuses on how the user interacts with the product interface, how they move from one screen to another, and what happens when they click this button or tap that image. In a nutshell, it's everything you can interact with, including page layout, headings, sliders, interface animations, and micro-interactions. A UI designer must have specific skills to perform the role. They need to know how to design, wireframe, prototype, and animate interfaces. They also need to be familiar with design fundamentals such as color theory, typography, composition, and so on to ensure the product is consistent and easy to use.
For example, every element you see on a website or in a mobile application is the work of a user interface designer. To reflect the final design of a product, UI designers will create prototypes and mock-ups to see how it will look. In UI design, the goal is to create the presentation of the product. Even though the UI of a product has a huge impact on the user's overall experience, UI is much more closely related to visual communication and graphic design.
Because UI is more of a technical role in order to turn ideas into reality, some tools are required. The industry's most popular and widely-used tools include Sketch, Figma, and Adobe XD. Besides being familiar with such tools, UI designers must remain current on the latest trends and adapt to the constant changes in customers' tastes and behaviors. The UI designer basically takes what the UX designer has proposed and translates it into something that is both visually appealing and interactively smooth.
What Are the Differences between UI and UX Design?
If you have read the article so far, you probably understand where they differ, but you may still not be entirely sure how to make a clear distinction.
This is logical given how much the two concepts interact and overlap.
You can think of it as follows.
UX is the methodology, design, and strategy that must be in place to consider the user's needs and the purpose that the page must perform. It is a whole process with specific steps that will determine the quality of the interaction between a page and the user, so ultimately between a brand and its audience. The UI is the visualization of this process. It must be done so that the user does not have to think and worry a lot about what to do.
UX is all about how the user interacts with a website, and it is what shapes the UI.
You can understand the difference between the two based on your own experience. Certainly, you have visited a beautiful page, but challenging to use.
This is a page with an attractive UI but bad UX. On the other hand, some pages look poor and neglected visually, but are useful and make it easier to do whatever you intended. These are pages with a well-designed UX but low-quality UI.
However, in both UX and UI, target group research is fundamental. It's just that its scope is different.
UI designers need to make sure that the visual language they choose matches the page and the expectations that users have of it, and this can be done by A / B testing between different designs.
For example, research and testing can be done on whether users prefer a particular color in icons, whether they should be outlined, etc. Instead, UX designers need to research users' overall expectations of their one-page interface. For example, one expectation that should not be overlooked is that users expect that a left mouse click is enough to select a file and it takes two clicks to open it.
How Do UX Design and UI Design Work Together?
Now you know the differences between UX and UI design, and you can understand the distinct role of each. However, these two roles must work in harmony to achieve the desired and optimal result when designing an e-shop, website or mobile app.
The UI designers need to work closely with UX designers to achieve a beautifully designed digital application and organize it to ensure it is functional enough to leave the user satisfied. As UX designers plan the flow of a webpage, how all the interactions lead the users to what they want to do and provide them with the necessary information, UI designers manage how all this information will be displayed on the screen.
For example, let's imagine the need to make changes to a website, such as adding extra buttons. It may be necessary to adjust the button's size or shape due to this change. The UX team will decide how the buttons should be designed, while the UI designers will adapt their designs for the new layout.
Therefore, when designing a project, it is necessary for UX and UI designers to take on every process. With the right cooperation, a valuable and beautiful result will emerge.
Why Is UI/UX Important?
So is UX/UI design so important? The answer is clearly yes, regardless of the size of the business!
In big companies that invest large amounts of money for their digital presence, the attention to detail in both the aesthetic result and the functionality can make or break the company. Even for small or medium-sized businesses, the attention given to the UX and UI aspects has the potential to determine the success or failure of the company's online presence.
Users have dozens of options and will not settle for a digital application that is unappealing or makes browsing difficult for them. They will simply leave, preferring the next application that will provide them with a better experience.
Also, functionality is a very important factor for search engine ranking. If your website has an excellent UX/UI, Google will reward it by ranking it high in search results, leading to more visitors, sales, and profits. However, if users are dissatisfied with their experience on your website and leave, Google will evaluate it negatively, which will directly impact your project.
Over time, more and more companies realize the importance of a great user experience and focus on optimizing their products. Even the most visually appealing design cannot save an impossible-to-navigate interface. Likewise, an amazing user experience would be ruined by an ugly design. UX and UI need each other. There cannot be one without the other. The key points to remember are:
- UX design focuses on the user experience with a product, while UI Design is more concerned with the look and feel of the product.
- UX is about finding the right solution to a problem, while UI Design is about finding that solution.
- UX designers focus on research and testing to find the best solutions, while UI designers often have more creative freedom.
- UX is usually done before UI Design, but there is overlap between the two disciplines.
- Ultimately, both UX and UI play a significant role in creating successful products.
At Solwey, we always keep in mind UX and UI, not one or the other. We develop a streamlined experience for your customers to interact with your company. If you would like to discuss how we can make your product or service more user-friendly, set up a time to chat.