What Separates User Experience (UX) and User Interface Design (UI)?

  • Vanessa Sanchez 08-25-2020 Read time (6 min)

What Separates User Experience (UX) and User Interface Design (UI)?

Easily confused for one another, User Experience (UX) and User Interface Design (UI) play different roles when it comes to the digital world. UX and UI designers work closely on developing products like websites, mobile apps or products alike and are vital to their success.

The UI and UX designers are responsible for making the product look good and work efficiently. Usually, both teams of designers are hired when projects are begun from scratch, and although the UX designers are hired during the updating period, the UI team also plays an important role to upgrade the interface. Simply put, the UX and UI are not areas where any organization should compromise.

So what separates the two teams? They differ in division of labor and directs of product development, and together, they create remarkable products which users enjoy using. Before we get into the differences, here’s a little bit of introduction to the roles.

What’s a User Experience Designer?

UX Designers aim to increase customer loyalty and satisfaction. This is delivered by improving the experience of the product for the customers/users by studying user behavior and responding to their feedback.

The UX Designer is responsible for a large chunk of the client dealings. They help clients chart out goals for future projects, conduct usability studies, plan task flows for user interactions and also help to construct user personas to gauge the success of the product’s usability. Using user research and testing, UX designers are able to use information pertaining to rudimentary interfaces and user information to design a great product that promises seamless service.

UX designers also work with developers, product designers and clients to help maintain the user friendliness of the product throughout the process and keep its usability at its optimum level.

In other words, UX Designers are driven professionals who aim to understand the user’s behavior to deliver the best experience of the product.

The User Interface Designer

Also important to attain the big-picture goals of a product, the UI Designer is responsible for the product interface’s look, interactivity and responsiveness. Using graphic and interaction design, a UI designer constructs a cohesive interface combining his/her client’s goals, the brand personality and the users’ needs.

UI designers are primarily concerned with developing a visual brand guide for clients and increasing the fidelity of wireframes (which are prototypes or demos used to test the product at different stages of production). They also collaborate with product developers to design a product’s assets.

A UI designer knows just how to plan a seamless interface, which isn’t congested with too many tools or features, and work closely with UX Designers to draft an interface which is user friendly.

Why Do We Need UI/UX Designers?

Companies have realized that they can no longer ignore the importance of customer experience when it comes to technology. Getting customers and users actively involved in a product takes some work, and the UI/UX professionals know just how to do that.

They Organize Your Product
Whether it’s a website or a mobile application, the UI/UX designers know that information architecture is extremely vital to a product’s success. The UI/UX designers know just how to plan the flow of information and navigation to create a smooth and systematic experience for the user. In short, they know just how to organize your product for brilliant user feedback.

They Know What the Users Demand
Products are made with specific goals in mind. And who knows user behavior better than the UI/UX teams? The UI team knows how to get users to really engage with the product and spend quantifiable time using it, and the UX teams have vast research on user behavior to know how to make the product more usable and a favorite amongst users.

They Know How to Increase Accessibility
UI and UX designers’ skill set allows them to work together to respond to all user needs and increase accessibility. Here are some areas they are pros at improving:

  • Design – Their expertise ensures that your product has a responsive design that enables the product to be used across different devices and screens. Users are always fond of products that work seamlessly on different devices.
  • Internet Connection –UI/UX teams know that internet quality and speed differ. They make sure that the product’s information flow and interface works quickly and rapidly to avoid the loss of users and customers. Users can be impatient; for example, this research shows that around 40% of shoppers abandon their cart if the page takes too long to load.
  • Browser Versatility – UI/UX teams tweak the product to work across different browsers (Google
    Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Opera, etc). In other words, they make the product accessible to
    everyone through any means.

Getting Into the Differences

Here’s how both these teams differ. They’re equally important in creating the product and making it successful.

Interface Development: What Goes into the Product’s Appearance

What Does a UX Designer Do?
Since UX designers work to meet the users’ needs that are not already met, or to improve the existing ones, their job is to make the interface useful. Using competitive analysis and developing minimum viable products or apropos, they’re able to see who the targeted customers/users will react to the product.

What Does a UI Designer Do?
After the product has passed its wireframe testing, the UI team steps in to make the product more aesthetically pleasing. UI designers decide which colors, themes, typography, etc., will be simple and attractive to the user. Using information from the UX teams, the UI designers chart out a visual hierarchy that will serve the users’ needs by using conventions and patterns that have been tried and tested.

Engagement: Who Does What For the Users?

What Does a UX Designer Do?
The UX teams help users accomplish their goals. This means they use extensive research to see what users’ with certain agendas in mind would like to derive from the product. By asking questions, conducting interviews and making prototypes to run tests, they can validate their findings and continue with the process. In other words, a UI designer knows how to keep the users engaged by keeping their interests right in front of them.

What Does a UI Designer Do?
The UI designer knows just how to emotionally connect the users and the product together. Emotional connections are important when it comes to developing interests in anything for human beings, and using this, the UI teams use striking designs, engaging content and a captivating interface to get users to become emotionally involved. In layman’s terms, the UI team knows which cord to strike to get a response.

The Hierarchy of the Process: Who Comes First?

What Does a UX Designer Do?
The UX teams usually come first when it comes to deciding whether a product or an application should be built. Because UX designers are more privy to user behavior and patterns, their research enables the product’s teams to validate and guide the process of development. Their research is imminent in deciding whether the product or application will be carried forward successfully with its chosen medium.

What Does a UI Designer Do?
After the product has been tried and tested during its several stages of production, the UI designers step in to take charge of the visual design, aesthetics and micro interactions that the product requires. In other words, they come in to add the final touches and tweak some things around to make the product more marketable to users.

The Scope of Design: Which Areas Are Handled By Which Design Team?

What Does a UX Designer Do?
The UX design team is a team of professionals with versatile skills that enable them to be hired across products, interfaces and services. Organizations with a web presence or those that develop products and services are beginning to realize the value of understanding their consumers’/users’ behavior to reach success, and hence are eager to hire UX design teams for various reasons.

What Does a UI Designer Do?
The UI teams are hired for only the interface, i.e., is the physical look and some technical works of the finalized or finished product. Of course, their expertise is not limited to the product’s graphical user interfaces across different screens. The UI teams are also hired to furnish the interface of devices like watches, home electronics, vending machines, car dashboards and many more.

Research: Who Focuses On What?

What Does a UX Designer Do?
The UX designer is interested in user expectations, which means their research will center on gauging user satisfaction. With various applications and versatile interfaces out there, user expectations change rapidly and are hard to pin point. This is exactly why the UX teams focus heavily on familiarizing themselves with these expectations to come up with something that will increase user satisfaction or maintain it.

What Does a UI Designer Do?
The UI team focuses on visual language and how that predicts user expectations. Their job is to see how similar existing products have shaped the expectations of users and how they can be made better. Using the right aesthetics, designs and rules of drafting a visual interface, the UI designer makes sure that the product is conforming to the basic user expectations.

Working Together: How UI and UX Teams Come Together

The UI and UX functions are closely interlinked. One cannot function without the other as the tasks performed by each are either precedents or antecedents of the others’ agenda.

Collecting Information
Designers get together to collect all of the required and necessary information. Getting critical data related to specification and gathering materials is a crucial step in beginning the project seamlessly. This process also gets both teams on the same page and aware of each other’s goals.

Splitting Tasks
The project is downsized into smaller, doable tasks, and the UI and UX teams work simultaneously on their parts to achieve the goals of each stage.

Research
Both teams begin to conduct their research to identify how the competition is faring and how they can go about the product design while staying on the same page. Communication between the two teams is at its high when it comes to data finding, and this helps to shape the concept of the product and how users will experience it.

Using Initial Stage Prototypes/Mainframes
Various stages of product development require mainframing or prototyping to test the usability and ease of the product. At this point, the UX designers will be dealing with low-fi mainframes, and that information will help the UI designers decide where to go from there, what the interface should look like, what content it should contain, which buttons are needed, and so on.

Testing High Fidelity Mainframes/Prototypes
Testing high fidelity mainframes requires the UX teams to set out the most user-friendly design they can chart out for the project, stemming from their research and the product’s requirements. The UI team can then take leeway to finalize the finishing touches like fonts, aesthetics and so on to finalize the look of the project.

Presenting the Final Product
Both teams are present when the final product has to be showcased. The UX designer is aware of how important presentation and ease of use is, and the UI designer knows just how to get the client and their prospective customers involved in the product.

The Takeaway

Although similar, the UI and UX world are responsible for very different things. Both are equally important in making a product highly successful and engaging users. Where one takes care of the aesthetics to please the users, the other steps in to improve the user’s navigation experience.

If you’re ever in doubt about your product’s success, UI and UX teams are perfect to hire for reliable feedback!