UI vs UX Design: Side-by-Side Comparison

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User experience design (UI design) quite simply stands for what it is – the whole experience of the user. It is a collection of interactions between the user and the company, its services, and products. In comparison, UX design measures or identifies the pain points of the user and uses this information to build a rough prototype to test these ideas from where the information is validated. UX focuses on the usability aspect of a product and there are many ways to build one that meets a need that is not currently being met in the market.

A UX designer’s method of developing a valuable product starts with research and involves market analysis, developing user personas and testing out ideas throughout the life cycle of the product. To make the learning visible, designers usually create user flows and wireframes to test out ideas. UI design, on the other hand, is a mix of visual hierarchy and graphic design. It is what makes the interface beautiful. It focuses on the visceral experience of the user and helps convey a brands message, their product, value, and functionality. Although they might seem like two different entities, there are many common areas between UI and UX. Their explanation often changes depending on the perspective of the user. To elaborate these further, let us take a look at 2 big differences that separate UX and UI.

1. User Experience as the underlying structure.

UX designers consider the hows, whys, and whats of product use. This means that they rely heavily on data. This includes understanding their motivations, values, functionality, features, accessibility, and aesthetics. They put people first and collect necessary data that drive a user to perform the actions they do. It encompasses all the experiences of the user and strives to understand how the user chooses to interact with an overall design and functionality of a product. There are many facets to user experience design. Here are some basic tasks UX designers undertake:

  • Understanding the customer and their competition

    Knowing your target audience is key to creating a good user experience. Collecting data and analyzing it will help you figure out what the users want. This should go hand in hand with market and competitor analysis. Setting goals as to what you want to achieve in this stage will help you make better business decisions and help shed a light on how to make the product better and more useful for the target audience.

  • Wire-framing and Prototyping

    Once you have a basic understanding of your user personas and the market, you can start building your wireframes. They are nothing but simple outlines of your product. Organizing content this way will give you a reliable idea of what your final product will look like. It is also a great tool early on, as it will help you cement your idea before delving into the details. The simplicity of its structure also makes it easier to experiment.

This stage is often followed by pixel perfect visual mockups. Prototypes, on the other hand, help breathe life into your designs. By making a wireframe interactive, you are able to test your idea and get necessary feedback.

  • Development and Planning

    UX designers are not only responsible for creating a valuable and functioning product but also in managing the goals, performance, and development of one. According to ynd.co, a development company that specializes in application development, to improve an application it is important to implement strategies that focus on perceived and actual performance. A user should be able to navigate through a web page or an application effortlessly. Slower load times can lead to bounces and this will ultimately affect the overall experience of the user with the company and its product.

2. UI as the visceral experience.

UI Designers take the wireframes, prototypes and the data collected by UX designers to create visual representations that guide the user through the application. They are responsible for building a page that is able to engage the user and create a connection with the product. This is done through a mix of visual hierarchy and graphic design. User Interfaces act as the access point between the user and the digital world so they have to be designed with the utmost care. The following tasks fall under the category of UI Design:

  • Visual Storytelling and Content Design

    To design an effective interface, designers should incorporate the 4 basic principles of UI Design into their work — Clarity, Consistency, User expectations and visual hierarchy. The goal is to teach the user to use the application with a series of visual cues. The page should be structured to draw the user and keep them engaged long enough for them to come back for more.

  • Role of branding

    UI designers are often responsible for creating an overall image of the product. This means that they often set the tone of the app or website to convey the brand’s message. Your choice of words, typeface and image matters when trying to convey a message. Users often intuitively pick up on these nuances and can often influence their perception of the product.

  • Responsive Design

    Responsive web design is often preferred due to their low maintenance costs, higher conversion rates, improved SEO and browsing experience. Most companies are trying to incorporate responsive design as it eliminates the task of manually adjusting everything to fit your browser screen. There are a lot of benefits to responsive design and UI designers have to keep up with the changing times to be on top of their game.

We hope this article sheds some light on the basic differences between UX and UI design. This field is growing and has evolved over time.

Iggy is a designer who loves experimenting with new web design techniques, collating creative website designs, and writing about the latest design trends, inspiration, design freebies, and more. You can follow him on Twitter

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