User Interface (UI) design is about how the product interface looks and works, while User Experience (UX) design is about the overall feel of the experience.
A few well-known debates in the design world are never quite settled.
One such important debate is the difference between UI and UX design. While countless analogies explain how these two concepts work hand in hand, presenting a definitive answer has been a challenge. But if you’re new to design, understanding how and when to use these terms is essential.
In this article, you’ll learn everything there is to know about UI and UX design, from their definitions to key differences and how they fit together.
What is UI vs UX Design?
UI refers to the term “user interface design“, while UX stands for “user experience”. These two design concepts are crucial for a product and work closely together. However, despite their professional relationship, their roles are quite different. They refer to various aspects of the design discipline and the product development process. But before moving on to the difference between UI and UX design, let’s understand what each term means individually.
What is User Interface Design?
User interface (UI) design is the creation of interfaces focusing only on graphical representation and user interactivity. The goal is to create an easy to use and aesthetic interface. The word “interface” is the access point where a user interacts with software or an application, a website or a digital device.
User interface design is the exploration of how users interact and behave with a product to create an interface that best suits their needs. This mainly involves taking note of the design elements involved in creating a product, for example, images and other media, graphics, buttons, menu bars or footers. These elements affect user interaction with the application, so it should be planned accordingly. It is essential to ensure that each visual element appears united, both aesthetically and in purpose.
You can check out some great UI design examples here.
What is UX Design?
User experience (UX) design is the process of creating products that deliver valuable experiences to users. User experience includes all aspects of user interaction with the brand, its services and its products. The user experience determines how the application works and how easy or difficult it is for users to interact with the final product.
UX design involves creating meaningful experiences through the integration of various marketing, branding, engineering, design, and usability elements into a product. Designing a user experience requires extensive user research to understand the feelings, mindset, behavior, and goals of users. This information is then used to create the product.
For a better understanding, check out some awesome UX design examples here.
The main differences between UI and UX design
Although the design concepts work closely together, there are major differences between UI and UX design. Let’s understand them with the help of the tasks involved when designing a UI and UX.
Tasks Involved in User Interface Design
1. Product appearance and feel
Design Research: Research is essential to gather information about users, competitors, and the latest design trends, to help find inspiration, and to create interfaces that meet user expectations.
Design visuals: Designing visuals involves creating a product layout using all visual elements, including colors, fonts, icons, buttons, etc.
Graphic development: Striking the right balance between usability and a consistent brand identity is key, which can be achieved by working hand-in-hand with the marketing or creative team. Therefore, UI design is closely related to graphic design.
Design systems: When designing a user interface, it is crucial to ensure product and brand consistency. In this case, style guides, libraries, and components that detail how each element will look help immensely.
2. Responsive and interactive design
Responsiveness: UI design helps create responsive interfaces that smoothly adapt to all devices, platforms, and screen sizes, whether in form or function.
Interactivity: UI design is all about determining which animations and transitions or other interactive elements to use for an interactive interface.
Prototyping: A prototype is an essential part of user interface design. It showcases every UI element and its interaction in real time. This allows testing of the look, feel and function of the product.
Tasks Involved in UX Design
1. Research and strategy
Planning: The first step in the UX design process is to create a strategic plan, then ensure that all critical stakeholders agree and work towards common goals.
User research: UX design is primarily concerned with solving conceptual problems based on user research and data.
Information Architecture: IA is about organizing and labeling product content to help users find the information they seek.
2. Prototyping and wireframing
User flow: UX design involves interviewing users to note their needs, then crafting the best user flow to help them accomplish their tasks.
Wireframing: Wireframing is essential for the UX design process. It acts as the skeleton of an interface to understand how a design will work.
Testing: It’s best to do some testing early in the design process via a rough prototype or even a paper model to gather data from users and validate your ideas and assumptions.
Analysis: UX design involves analyzing test results and defining next steps based on the results.
How do UI and UX design work together?
UI and UX cannot be considered entirely separate entities despite the differences. On the contrary, both design concepts are crucial and work closely together to discover how a product will look and function, with one influencing the other.
No matter how attractive the interface you create, users will get frustrated and leave your site without a strong UX because they won’t find your app information easily. On the other side, imagine you are doing user research and testing your app to ensure the best user experience. However, the colors are too bright and the text is so dull and light for people to read. Result? Even with a good UX, users can be disappointed if the UI design is not pleasant or accessible.
Now that you know the difference between UI and UX design, you can say there is no UI without UX and vice versa. Because when you develop a user-centric product, you need both aspects to ensure users interact with your product with ease and enjoyment.