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UX vs UI: What’s the Difference?

You may have heard of the terms user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) and wondered to yourself, “What are these?”. UX and UI are often used interchangeably and incorrectly. They are, in fact, two different and very important aspects of the technology industry. 

Generally, UX and UI are different elements of digital design. At the most basic level, user interface is the actual visual elements and arrangement that a user interacts with on a product or service. User experience, however, is the actual experience a user has while using the product or service. 

This article will delve into the details of user experience vs user interface, the types of projects UI vs UX developers work on, and how to get started in product design. 

UI: User Interface

Is it all about the aesthetics?

UI is anything and everything a user interacts with on a digital product or service. This varies from the actual arrangement, the visuals, buttons, lighting, color, sounds, fonts, how the user maneuvers around the product, and so much more. 

For example, when you are using an app or a webpage, everything you can see or use was developed by a UI designer. The goal is to make this experience as efficient, enjoyable, and positive as possible.

What Kinds of Projects Do UI Designers Work On?

When a UI developer has a client, they will be thinking about all of the different elements they will need to incorporate so that the client’s product is easy to navigate and is visually appealing. This involves a lot of creativity, so different voices and original ideas are crucial to the development of a successful digital platform. 

The UI designer will need to get to know the client very well so that they can effectively portray the brand on the site. UI designers will work together with the client and UX designer to develop a vision for the site. They will research the target audience, design all of the navigation element, and make sure everything is implemented successfully together. 

UI developers primarily focus on:

  • Visual design
  • Color
  • Graphic design
  • Layout
  • Typography 

UX: User Experience

A person using a laptop
User experience is all about the impression one gets upon using a product or service.

UX, on the other hand, focuses on how enjoyable and efficient the product or service is for the user. Don Norman, a cognitive scientist, created the term in the 1990s. He defined it as the user’s reactions after using a company’s product. 

How a user feels about the site, positive, negative, or neutral, is dubbed user experience. UX designers work with UI designers to make sure that the site not only does the job it is supposed to but also that it does the job well. 

A UX developer has seven main goals: the product is usable, findable, useful, desirable, accessible, credible, and valuable. If a user leaves the site feeling positive about the product and wanting to return, then the UX designer was successful.


What Kinds of Projects Do UX Designers Work On?

UX designers work closely with the UI designers and the marketing team to ensure that the product will receive positive feedback from the audience. UX designers can work on a wide range of products—from the web, app, and software design, voice design, virtual reality design, and more. 

A UX developer will conduct research on the client’s intended audience so they can properly test the software from their perspective. They will consider the audience’s goals, possible problems, emotions, and behaviors. Depending on the client’s intended audience, the site could be made for a very specific audience, or the site could be made to satisfy a very large and general audience. 

Once the product has been developed, the UX designer will run usability tests with prototypes to see how the user interacts with the product. They will observe and analyze for possible problems and changes that may need to be made. 

UX designers primarily focus on:

  • Interaction design
  • Wireframes and prototypes
  • Information architecture 
  • User research
  • Potential scenarios

User Interface vs. User Experience

Close up of a computer screen
UI and UX are similar, but have different roles in the tech industry.

While UI and UX are similar in some aspects, they are two different—yet crucial—elements to digital design. It is easier to think that UI comes first, which then leads to UX. The user interface is the look and function of the site, while the user experience is making sure the user enjoys the product. 

UI is focused on portraying the brand correctly for the client, while UX is focused on whether or not the product actually satisfies the needs of the user. 

Both UI and UX are very important to digital design, and both of them are required in order to successfully sell a product or service. 

How to Get Started in UI/UX Design

Two people working together on a laptop
Break into the world of digital design.

UX and UI design have become an increasingly popular career path for those embarking on the tech industry. Visual design and development can be challenging, but it is a very exciting and financially rewarding career choice. 

Prospective visual designers can take different journeys in order to become a UX or UI designer. You can choose to go to a college and receive a degree in computer science while specializing in visual design, you can attend a certification program, or you can join a UX/UI bootcamp that will teach you everything you need to know. 

Skills Needed to Be a UI Designer

In order to be an outstanding UI developer, you will need to have a certain skill set. Here is a list of some of the most important skills for UI design:

  • Understanding of interaction design principles
  • Understanding of how to illustrate branding, typography, and color theory
  • Knowledge of style guides
  • Understanding of wireframing and prototyping
  • Knowledge of the industry’s tools
  • Be a team player and have good communication skills

Skills Needed to Be a UX Designer

If you are interested in UX design, there are important skills to have to make sure you are ready for the job. Here is a list of some of the most important skills for a UX designer:

  • Proficiency in creating user personas, stories, wireframes, sitemaps, and prototypes
  • Understanding of formal product evaluations, testing, and surveys
  • Ability to interpret testing data and feedback
  • Understanding of visual design and information architecture
  • Ability to think about a user’s goals and needs and translate them into design elements
  • Ability to work in a team and effectively communicate

Get Started Today

People working together in a group
Get started in digital design today.

User interface and user experience are two very popular and sought-after career paths as technology has grown and advanced over the last decade. They are similar in that they both work to make a product or service as efficient and user-friendly as possible, but they are different in the areas that they focus on. UI and UX designers have different goals in their work, but they are both critical to the success of a digital product or service. 

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