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

The Differences Between UX and UI: A Complete Guide

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designing ui and ux for an app

Running a small- or medium-sized business isn’t always easy, especially when you don’t have the same resources as larger competitors. But you can gain an edge through the internet with an excellent web design to entice customers and display your product. I can help you improve your existing website’s user interface (UI) and user experience (UX), which are the two vital components of good web design.

A web page can be a powerful tool for your business, but most internet users leave a page within the first 10-20 seconds. The main contributing factors are poor UX and UI, a problem I specialize in solving. In this article, I will explain the difference between UI and UX and how the two work together, giving you an understanding of what constitutes good web design.

What is UX Design?

User experience relates to how well your web page interacts with users to leave them with a positive attitude towards your business and product. Your web page is often the first contact with customers. A positive UX is a vital sales strategy, improving your service quality.

UX is constantly evolving as new technology becomes available for UI, changing how customers interact with your website. Our UX designer’s job is to ensure the best possible customer experience with your website, using Peter Morville’s usability honeycomb as the foundation.

The Usability Honeycomb

Our UX designers use this honeycomb to guide them in the initial web design and testing. We also gather data from your website to constantly improve the UX design. The UX designer works closely with UX researchers, UI designers, product teams, and marketers.

The aim is to monitor your customers’ experience on your website from start to finish by looking at some critical aspects of how customers view the site, including whether they feel it’s:

  • Findable: Can your customers find your product or service, and how do they find it?
  • Useable: What actions do your customers need to take as they interact with your website, and how easy is it to navigate and find what they came to look for?
  • Desirable: What does your customer think and feel about your brand as they navigate the website?
  • Credible: What is the lasting impression that customers take away? Can they believe in your brand?

Our UX designers ensure that you deliver a service or product that meets your customers’ needs and allows them to achieve their desired outcome. UX designers provide, monitor, and manage the quality of your web design.

What Does a UX Designer Do?

A UX designer achieves their goals in three phases. They first develop the strategy and determine the content, then they build the prototype web page and test it, and the final stage is monitoring the page once it’s live.

  1. 1. Strategy and content:

    • Competitor analysis: We look at competing web pages to find out what makes them successful and how we can improve on the experience they offer.
    • Customer analysis and user research: We determine your target market and their needs.
    • Product structure and strategy: We look at sales strategies to market your product.
    • Content development: We create and develop the content to put on your page.
  2. 2. Wireframing and prototyping:

    • Wireframing: We develop a drawing or blueprint of the web design.
    • Prototyping: We test the design through a prototype or a simulation page.
    • Testing and iteration: We use a trial-and-error process to upgrade the prototype and find the best user experience that fits your product structure and strategy.
    • Development planning: We plan the best method to continue delivering the optimal user experience on your site within your resources and budget.
  3. 3. Execution and analytics:

    Once the page is live, we continue to monitor and upgrade it by the following means:

    • Coordination with UI designer(s)
    • Coordination with the developer(s)
    • Tracking goals and Integration
    • Analysis and iteration

Essential Skills of a UX Designer:

  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Open-mindedness
  • Empathy
  • Curiosity and continuous learning
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving
  • Familiarity with user research and analysis techniques
  • Wireframing and prototyping
  • Understanding of information architecture
  • User and usability testing

What is UI Design?

The user interface comprises anything your customers will interact with to use a digital product or service, like your web page. Today’s UI includes keyboards, touchscreens, monitors, and mobile devices.

The UI designer’s role is to ensure users can access your site or page using the technology available. As technology grows, UI design evolves to account for changing systems, preferences, accessibility, and expectations.

A few years ago, users accessed most web pages through desktop computers. Today’s UI designer needs to make pages that can be accessed and interacted with from touch screen mobile devices.

Technology is moving at an ever-faster pace. UI now needs to account for virtual reality, augmented reality, and wearables like smartwatches. These become more available to customers daily.

UI design needs to provide interfaces that users of all ages, backgrounds, and technological knowledge can use effectively and with little frustration. Yesterday’s web design needed to be optimized for desktop computers. Today, users need to interact with a site from both computers and mobile devices. Future pages need to account for the new technologies becoming available daily.

What Does a UI Designer Do?

A UI designer looks at two critical areas of the interface that customers use -- how the page looks and how it reacts to users’ requests.

The look and feel of the product:
  • Customer analysis
  • Design research
  • Branding and graphic development
  • User guides and storylines
Responsiveness and interactivity:
  • UI prototyping
  • Implementation with developer
  • Adaptation to all device screen sizes
  • Interactivity and animation

Essential Skills of a UI Designer

Our UI designers need the following critical skills:

  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Open-mindedness
  • Empathy
  • Adaptability
  • Creativity and problem-solving
  • Visual branding skills (typography, colour theory, icon design, etc.)
  • Wireframing and prototyping
  • Knowledge of responsive design
  • Animation and interactivity

Differences Between UX and UI

Although they work in tandem, there is a difference between UX and UI. The difference is in how the designers look at the product.

Aspect UX UI
Functionality How does the interface look How does the interface work
Major Focus Solving the user’s problems Solving the product’s problems
Colours Used Only use black, white, and grey Use full colour in the design
Tools Used Use wireframing tools like Sketch or Justinmind Use image design tools like Flinto, Invision, and Principle

Designing a website to suit your target market is a challenging and sometimes tricky task. If you need help and guidance in developing the UX and UI of your business's website, contact Brain Box Labs today!

How Do UI and UX Work Together?

As you can see, despite the differences between UI and UX, a team of designers working together to maximize the use of UI and UX can make an excellent, intuitive website. An intuitive website keeps customers engaged longer, increasing your chances of generating consumer interest through your page.

A designer integrates UX and UI into an app or web page to ensure that it adds value to the end-user. The UX designer decides how the interface works for the end-user, while the UI designer's concern is its looks.

UX designers work on the smooth flow, improving how the end-user navigates through the tasks and how the interface presents the information that the user requests. The UI designer concentrates on the visual presentation of the tools on the screen. Without collaboration between these two disciplines, the design is only half complete.

The most valuable products meet a need that isn't already catered for. During the research process, the UX designer analyzes the competition and your customer niche to develop a product that caters to your target market. Once the product is live, the UX designer needs to validate the research by testing it throughout its life-cycle.

Once the UX designer has prototyped and tested the wireframes, the UI designer makes them visually pleasing. UI designers add colour schemes and typography that are both attractive and easy to use. The UI uses the research conducted during the first phase to determine the best colours, typography, and interfaces to use. They must match the consumer persona. The aim is to create a visual hierarchy that guides the end-user through the site or app. It tells them what and how to interact with the functions to achieve their goal.

A well-designed hierarchy highlights one objective per page. The user knows where they are on the site and what they can do at that time. The easiest way to accomplish this is by using conventions and patterns that the user already knows, giving them clues to show them how to achieve their goals.

Tools for UI and UX Designers

The most significant difference between UI and UX design is the tools they use to accomplish their tasks. We've summarized these tools below:

  • Sketch: Sketch is a combined UI/UX design tool.
  • InVision Studio: Invision also combines UI and UX principles as a design tool.
  • Axure: Axure is used mainly for interactive mockups.
  • Craft: Cra ft is an InVision plugin that facilitates prototyping and collaboration.
  • Proto.io: Proto.io is another tool for creating interactive mockups.
  • Adobe XD: Adobe XD is used for wireframing, interactive prototyping, and creating mockups and artboards.
  • Marvel: Marvel is a UI tool to design and test prototypes.
  • Figma: Figma is a collaborative tool that allows designers to build mockups and prototypes, testing them for usability.
  • Framer X: Framer X offers UI developers tools to build and test mockups.
  • Origami Studio: Origami is a more advanced prototyping tool that integrates with Sketch and gives designers a true reflection of how the live web page will act.

If you need more information on how UX and UI function, you can send an email to Brain Box Labs. We'll be glad to help you out with your website or web application problems.

PRO TIP:

"When trying to design a website, you should always keep visual hierarchy in mind."

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The usability comb is considered to be the foundation of best-practice UX design by developers.

The ideal size for primary text is 16px, using 14 px for secondary text. These sizes give the equivalent readability on mobile devices as a standard book.

The eight main components of visual hierarchy are:

  • Positioning
  • Size
  • Colour
  • Contrast
  • Texture
  • Alignment
  • Proximity
  • Repetition
Have a project or idea? Get in touch with us!
We would love to help you make it come to life.
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