UX, short for User Experience, has become a buzzword in the design world, endorsed by designers and developers alike. This has led to some confusion when it comes to understanding UX vs UI Design. Even highly respected developers all too frequently claim to be talking about UX. In reality, they are discussing UI, or User Interface, features. It’s important to resist the temptation to use UX as a catch-all term; instead, learn more about the differences between the two below.
What is UX?
User Experience refers to the functional aspect of the design process. Things such as how a product behaves or how users might interact with it. In the context of web design, it can refer to anything from sliding boxes that encourage users to click on them first to the basic architecture of the site’s contents within its sitemap. These factors are very important when it comes to attracting repeat viewers and improving conversion rates. They however operate largely behind the scenes.
What is UI?
User Interface is more related to the physical layout of a product or webpage. Changes to a site’s UI might include altering its color scheme or changing where different elements go; as a result, UI can be considered, to some extent, a small part of UX. However, UI design is far more focused on color schemes and site typography than it is on structural changes.
A Helpful Example
Let’s take a look at a simple example. If a page needs an interactive button, its UI designers will focus on what the button will look like and how it is colored. The UX designers will instead be focused on functionality. This includes where to put the button in respect to addressing the average user’s expectations. Both UX and UI designers are required to create a properly-functioning and well-designed page, and these teams often work in collaboration with each other to accomplish these goals; however, that doesn’t mean they are interchangeable.
Understanding These Differences
Some of the confusion surrounding UX and UI development is due to the relatively recent introduction of these terms. This is why it might be easier for those who are still confused to understand the differences between UX and UI in the context of a simple metaphor. While UX design is fairly technical and analytical in nature, UI design is more concerned with visual aesthetics. Say a website or digital product was likened to the human body. It’s bones would be the site’s code, its UX design would be the organs, and its UI design would represent the body’s cosmetic aspects such as its presentation and reactions.
Required Skill Sets
Since UX development involves an in-depth understanding of what users are looking for and how to best provide the results they desire, UX designers tend to be interested in sociology and cognitive science as well as web design. UI designers are responsible for transferring a brand’s unique strength and visual assets into an interface that is designed to enhance the user experience, so those who work in the field of UI tend to be more visually-oriented. As a final note, coordination between these two fields of development is essential. To produce a well-designed finished product, designers should have an idea of what’s required for both of these unique disciplines.
Janis Henslee, CEO of Digital Fitness in Madison, WI, is an Entrepreneur in the marketing profession that helps businesses of all sizes streamline their marketing solutions through Marketing Memberships. She spends most of her time helping business owners communicate their vision and grow their business through effective marketing. If you are considering hiring a Marketing company, contact Janis at (608) 977-1540.