UI/UX Design: What’s the Difference? [2021 Research]

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ui/ux design

In the world of graphic design, there are quite a few debates that never seem to end. One of the big ones is the difference between UI/UX design. This particular debate over the definitions of UI/UX design has been going on for the longest time. To be more specific, since the terms have been around.

The term UI/UX design is quite often used interchangeably. When they actually mean two completely different things. You probably have overheard the conversations while walking down a street of the world’s tech capitals. Or while just chilling with your designer friends. Discusses the poor UI of a website or the great UX of a product. Are these people just using some slang to look somewhat cool? Definitely, a yes to the latter. But a NO to the rest.

There are countless analogies out there explaining how these two entirely different design concepts fit together. Apparently, pinning down a definitive explanation is pretty much impossible. But for anyone who is new to the design world. Or, more importantly, if you are interviewing for a design position. It’s a must to understand what these terms mean and when and how to use them.

If you are keen to learn the difference between UI/UX design, then you are just at the right place. This article will help you learn what the terms UI/UX design mean, what a UI or UX designer does, and the key differences.

What Is UI/UX Design?

Before diving into the difference, let us first understand what UI/UX design actually means individually. UI stands for User Interface design. While UX is the abbreviation of User Experience design. Pretty sure these definitions did not produce any sort of lightbulb moment of understanding. The meaning of each term depends on who you are asking. In some cases, UI/UX designs are wholly separate. Or they may even overlap, or UI is a subset of UX.

Apparently, both of these elements, UI/UX design, are crucial to a product and work hand-in-hand. But apart from the professional relationship of UI/UX design. The role of each term is quite different. And referring to two different aspects of the product development process and the design discipline.

What Is User Interface (UI) Design?

User Interface (UI) design is an older and more practiced field than UX design. But despite this, it’s difficult to answer the question, “what actually is UI design?”. Mainly because of its wide variety of misinterpretations. UX design is a collection of tasks focused on optimizing a product. In order to ensure the effectiveness and experience of a specific product. While User Interface (UI) design is simply its complement. For instance, the overall look and feel, the packaging and presentation, and the product’s interactivity.

In general, a user interface is the point of interaction between a user and any digital device. Such as the touchscreen on your mobile phone. Or the touchpad you use to choose what kind of coffee you want from the coffee machine. But when we talk in relation to websites or apps, a UI design refers to the overall look, feel, and interactivity of a product. It is all about using the right typography, images, and other visual design elements. In order to turn a pretty basic interface into something usable. It is a process of converting wireframes into a polished graphical user interface.

Responsibilities Of A UI Designer

ui/ux design

UI designing is your go-to option if you are more of a visual person. But also have an interest in creating mind-blowing user experiences. The responsibilities of a UI designer are:

The Look And Feel Of A Product

  • Design research: To research useful information about users, industry competition, and the latest design trends.
  • Visual design: To design the product layout and all the other visual elements of the user interface.
  • Branding and graphic development: To create the perfect balance between the usability of a product and representing the brand identity.
  • Design systems: To create style guides, pattern libraries, and other components that detail the look of each element.

Responsiveness And Interactivity

  • Responsive design: To ensure that the interface adjusts smoothly to all devices.
  • Interactivity and animation: To design the interactivity of the interface while using transitions, animations, etc.
  • Prototyping: To create a UI prototype that showcases each UI element and design interaction.

What Is User Experience (UX) Design?

Basically, User experience design is the human-first approach to designing any product. Initially, the term was coined by Don Norman in the late 1990s. He describes it as, “User experience encompasses all the aspects of a user’s interaction with the company, its products, and its services.” However, this definition of the term has no reference to tech. Or even any mention of digital.

Still, it’s clear that regardless of the medium, a UX design encompasses all kinds of interactions. Between a potential customer and the company. In simple words, User experience design is understanding the overall journey of your customers. From visiting a website to placing an order or getting in direct contact with the company. And finally turning it into an end product. The main concern of this design is the overall user-friendliness of an entire customer journey.

Additionally, UX design, specifically as a category, is not tied to websites only. It usually starts with a problem. And ends with a prototype or wireframe.

Responsibilities Of A UX Designer

The role of a UX designer is to understand the overall customer journey. Here are the responsibilities and tasks of a UX designer:

Research And Strategy

  • User Research: To research and gather data to solve a particular problem.
  • Plan: To create a strategic plan to ensure that the stakeholders are well-aligned and functioning properly.
  • Information Architecture: To organize and label the content of a website, application, or product.

Wireframing And Prototyping

  • Creating a user flow: To communicate with users to know about their needs and creating a user flow.
  • Wireframing: To create a skeleton of an interface, either digitally or even by drawing on paper.
  • Testing: To test the design early in the design process with a prototype.
  • Analysis: To analyze the test results and define the next steps.

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Key Differences Between A UI/UX Design

ui/ux design
  • One of the key differences between UI/UX design is that UI design is all about the aesthetic elements by which the users interact with a product. While UX design refers to the overall user experience.
  • User interface design mainly focuses on the visual interface elements, including menu bars, colors, typography, etc. While User experience design focuses on the users and their journey through the product.
  • The aim of UI design is to make products visually appealing, usable, and optimized for different screen sizes. On the other hand, UX design aims to offer users an easy-to-use product.
  • The user interface makes an emotional connection with the user. While user experience helps the user to accomplish their goals.
  • UI design relates to the interface and design of the product, so it has an artistic component. On the contrary, UX design has a social component because of market research and client communication.