In this composition, I am going to compactly explain the difference between UI design and UX design. These two terms are definitely most often confused and conflated terms in web and app design.
They are always placed together in a single term, which is UI/UX design (you can also find it as UX/UI design) so most people don’t really understand their differences.
Veritably frequently I get asked what I work and when I answer UI/UX design I try to explain them as short and understandably as possible.
So, I decided to write this article and by the end of it, you will understand what’s the difference between UI and UX design and how they relate to each other.
What is UI design?
The UI stands for “user interface” which is a place where interactions between humans and machines occur. The user interface is what people see and use when they interact with a computer, phone, or any other type of electronic device.
It is the way in which a user navigates through the system and interacts with it. Practically, UI designers are graphic designers and they’re concerned with aesthetics.
The user interface designer is the one who decides any sort of visual element, interaction animation, color schemes, button shapes, the width of lines, and the font used for text. We also must keep in mind that the user interface is built to be intuitive so that users can easily understand how to navigate through it. That being said, the design must also be aesthetically pleasing so that people are drawn to using it.
In order to make your product appealing to customers and to enhance their experience while using it, you need an interface that communicates well and is easy to use. Here are some tips on what you should keep in mind when designing one:
- The layout should be neat and elegant so that it’s intuitive for users.
- The design elements should be simple so that they have a minimal impact on the availability of functions but are still eye-catching enough to help attract attention.
- The color scheme must be appropriate to the context of the application being designed as well as complement other design elements like fonts, logos, etc.,
- Consistency across all screens helps establish relationships between screens
What tools are used for UI design?
You can find a lot of tools that will help you create your beautiful user interface designs, and here I will share a couple of them that I think are the most popular:
- Figma – Figma is an all-in-one design platform and it has a free plan that you can use. It is web-based software and you can use it directly on the browser or download it on your computer. This tool has plugins for virtually everything, helping you to simplify all those repetitive tasks. Create consistent styles-color, text, grid, or effect, and apply them to any text or object across all your projects. If you use Figma, these time-saving tips will be helpful for you. Figma allows for a collaborative environment, just like Google Docs, where multiple people can work on a project at the same time, letting you see who has it open for real-time collaboration.
- Sketch – Sketch pioneered UI design tools 10 years ago and although it no longer dominates the market, it remains a solid contender and is the second most popular UI design tool today. It began as a Mac-only app but has now evolved to include a web app with tools that work in any web browser. It still doesn’t have a native Windows app, however. It includes a set of intuitive vector editing tools. You can easily iterate on your work at any stage of the design process.
- Adobe XD – Adobe XD offers vector-based user interface tools for creating prototypes and mockups with an interface that’s familiar to anyone who has used other Adobe products. Adobe XD includes many valuable features to help your prototyping such as vector drawing tools, 3D transforms, reusable components, repeat grids, auto-animation, and content-aware layout. Also, the app allows to render animations, embed playable videos, and create vivid and true-to-life prototypes with motion.
- InVision Studio – The InVision program, released in 2011 and to this day it gives designers all of the UI design tools they need to create fully realized and functional prototypes with dynamic elements and animations. InVision includes a digital whiteboard that allows team members to get their ideas out there, interact, and get that all-important sign-off before moving forward. It offers many useful features such as a convenient vector drawing tool, the ability to copy components and modify them later, as well as create animations and other interactive visual effects.
- Balsamiq – Balsamiq is a wireframing tool and it doesn’t specialize in making ready-made prototypes like some of the aforementioned UI design tools. This tool reproduces the experience of sketching on a notepad or whiteboard on a computer. With Balsamiq, you will easily create templates, masters, and reusable and customizable component libraries you can incorporate in future designs.
What is UX design?
User experience design, or UX design for short, is a process for designing better user interfaces by taking into account how people interact with and respond to various products. The main goal of the UX designer is solving user problems and creating products that are relevant, functional, accessible, and at the same time enjoyable to use.
Being a user experience designer doesn’t include only making the software easy to use, but also designing the other experiences related for example the marketing campaign, the packaging, etc. You can find the UX in real life, everything is created with that in mind, we just don’t seem to think.
For example, get in the car and just imagine if the steering wheel and pedals switched places, would that be a good experience for driving? You can find examples like this in everything around you and those are really good inspirations to understand how the process is going and how you can solve the problem that you have in your design.
Some of the most common tasks for a UX designer are:
- Performing user research to identify any goals, needs, behaviors, and pain points involved with a product interaction
- Creating user personas based on target customers
- Creating user journey maps and analyzing how a customer interacts with a product
- Building wireframes and prototypes to hone in on what the final product will look like
- Performing user testing to validate design decisions and identify problems
- Collaborating with stakeholders, UI designers, and developers
By now, you have to really understand the difference between UI design and UX design. You can choose which one you want better and work only on that, but it’s best when you can do both, that’s why it is called UI/UX design.
Some people are more interested in doing research, performing user tests, and stuff like that, while others are more interested in creating beautiful graphic designs and interfaces. But, one without the other can’t go, so that’s why it is best to learn both and practice them a lot.