Kris Nicolaou - Web Strategist - Founder and CEO of Brain Box
Kris Nicolaou

The Difference Between UX and UI Design

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A good aesthetic helps captivate users and makes it easy to navigate an interface’s layout.

While some people confuse user interface design and user experience design, these are actually two distinct disciplines. They’re certainly related to each other, and doing one without the other will result in a poor overall design that frustrates users at multiple levels. Especially within the tech world, though, each remains a distinct discipline. Here’s a look at UI vs UX design and how they relate to each other.

UI Developers Focus on User Interface Design

“UI” when used in the field of design is short for “user interface,” and this refers to the various components that a website or app user actually interacts with. Everything from text and images to buttons and input forms fall under this umbrella. Background images, animations, sounds and anything else that’s a visual or interactive element is included.

Within the UI design field, however, developers are specifically focused on the aesthetics of these components. The UI developer’s job is to make sure all of these items look good. Thus, UI developers spend a lot of time selecting colors, picking fonts, arranging layouts and on similar tasks.

At heart, UI design developers are graphic designers. They make a project attractive, stimulating and appropriately themed.

UX Developers Focus on User Experience Design

“UX” within the design field refers to “user experience.” This refers to the way in which actually navigate through the website or app being developed. Whether the features logically flow from one to another or are arbitrary falls under the realm of user experience. A good UX design will allow users to accomplish whatever it is that they’re using the website or app for.

Thus, UX developers are concerned with how a project’s interface operates. Rather than aesthetics, they focus more on functionality, organization and navigation.

While not universally true, UX developers frequently use more analytics and data than UI design developers. While quantifiable numbers can be useful to each kind of design, hard data tends to be more easily leverages for a better overall user experience in UX design.

Not UI vs. UX, but Both UI and UX

As different as these two parts of design are, their relationship is hardly a contentious one. When done well, the two don’t battle over design elements but work together in symbiotic relationship. A good aesthetic helps captivate users and makes it easy to navigate an interface’s layout, and a logical flow naturally leads users through the interface.

Thus, the field of tech design doesn’t pose UI vs. UX as much as it posits UI and UX design together. When done well, the artistry of UI design helps the logic of UX design and visa-versa.

Have a UI Developer and UX Developer

As you prepare a digital project, don’t focus on just one aspect of design. Instead, invest resources in both UI and UX design, and your project will be that much better for your efforts. A team that has UI and UX developers who work together or someone who does both can help you, so long as both fields of design receive the proper attention during development.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

UI - or User Interface - is a vital aspect to just about anything you’ll see on your device screen. It does require a certain amount of work, talent, and experience to create a successful UI design.

While it can be a difficult job, it is also rewarding for UI designers. Most have a background in art and graphics and enjoy the challenges and rewards that come with the career.

UI is definitely not something you can jump into and be an instant pro - but it is something almost anyone can learn if they put in the work.

The first part is easy - you just need an interest in the general field. People with a passion and background in both art and computers have an advantage. However, there are many UI and UX designers who had neither - just the proper training.

You should think about which one appeals the most to you - User Interface or User Experience. Some people do both, but many specialize in just one.

It doesn’t necessarily require a degree, but it does take some schooling to become a UX or UI designer. There are a variety of training programs available, many of which can be completed online.

It’s not a requirement, but it can be helpful if you do know how to code. Some UI designers never learn to code and get along just fine in the workforce. Others already have experience in coding, and it works to their advantage.

There are many different jobs that involve UI design. Some job descriptions will ask for coding experience, while others do not require it. Many entry-level UI jobs do not have expectations for coding, but growing in your career can often involve getting that extra coding training.

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