Probably one of the most frequently asked questions by candidates is – what is the difference between UI and UX design? If you’ve always wondered this yourself, this article should give you a good insight into UI vs UX design along with the key differences between the two. First, allow us to give you a brief about UI and UX design. User interface(UI) is quite a broad field which involves combining aesthetics and presentation with the product’s interactivity. Any webpage or application screen that the user first interacts with comes under the scope of UI. On the other hand, user experience(UX) is all about the user’s feel and experience when working with an application or website. It is the whole end-to-end experience that the user goes through while using a product.

Take an ordinary microwave for instance. The small touch-screen that you use to select different microwave settings is the UI of the product. Designing how it should look and what options it should present come under the scope of UI. However, making sure that working with it is not overly complex for an everyday user is a part of UX. Both UI and UX are crucial in determining how well users receive a product. And while both are interrelated, it is important to understand that both don’t mean the same thing. Now that we’ve laid the premise, let’s delve into understanding the differences a bit further.

UI vs UX Design – What is the Difference?

As you might have gathered, a UI designer is someone who ensures that the first interaction point of the user with an application is perfect, whereas the UX designer ensures that the whole journey of using the product is memorable. UI design and UX design are used in almost all fields including (but not limited to):

  • Automobile Control Design
  • Furniture Design
  • Web App development
  • Print and publications
  • Media (news and entertainment)
  • Home Appliances

While UI and UX designers are professionally different, they work hand in hand with most things. Their roles are heavily dependent on each other. Having said that, both roles differ in skills and are unique. Here’s a look at the most significant differences between the two roles and the criteria on which these differences are based:

1. UI vs UX Design: Work UI and UX Designers Do

Take an example of website development. In this case, a UI developer would consider what the user will expect once he lands on a certain page of the website. Every element such as the colour, the flow of the page, the layout, etc. will be designed by the UI developer.

On the other hand, a UX developer will make his way through several if-and-but scenarios. For example, what would happen when a user rolls over a menu bar? What would happen when a user rolls over an image? What are the different steps leading the user to reach a particular endpoint? Depending on the usability metrics of the website, the UX designer will establish key checklists which the UI designer will have to follow to ensure that the website is user-friendly.

2. UI vs UX Design: Goals UI and UX Designer Want to Achieve

The UI designer needs to understand everything that a user would want and visually bring that picture to life. Since every user is different, it could prove very difficult to please everyone. But the UI developer wears different hats (create user personas) and run through the ideas to ensure that the design of the application is captivating.

UX developers will check to see if it is easy to reach the set goal. The goal is usually to provide a smooth user experience when working with an application. Additionally, there are several other things UX developers must consider, depending on the product like user-friendly navigation, easy operations, etc.

3. UI vs UX Design: Required Skills

UI developers should be strong in creative thinking. They need to be adept in mocking up multiple design ideas, working on graphics, and ensuring that layouts are legible and presentable. Hence, the primary skills a UI designer needs to possess are:

  • Design principles

Since an application’s interface needs to be a good sight, a great UI designer should have great command over shapes, colours, and typography. They should have a good eye for attractive layouts and eye-catchy designs.

  • Frontend development

UI designers need to possess basic coding skills. But that doesn’t mean they need to master all programming languages. They need to have a strong grasp of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Knowledge of tools and platforms specific to UI design, like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, etc. are an added plus. Moreover, a good understanding of data flow and business logic would be a bonus.

  • Desire to learn and be Reasonable

UI design trends keep changing every other day. There are technology enhancements, updates in standards, and a lot of other things. So a UI designer must be able to continually update his skill-set through learning. Additionally, such an individual should be able to set reasonable targets and always have something to work on.

  • Teamwork and Communication

UI designers rarely work alone. They have to collaborate with other designers, UX specialists, testers, and many other people. So they should be team-players and know how to communicate well. Putting ideas across in an effective manner is something they should be able to do well.

UX developers need to be critical thinkers. They should be able to develop a high-level idea of the user story. Hence, the most essential skills for a UX designer would be:

  • User research

To ideate a great user journey, a UX designer should be able to identify user needs and empathise with them. For this, the individual should be able to carry out interviews, develop questionnaires and surveys, create focus groups, and conduct user testing. Thus, they need to have great user research and analysis skills.

  • Wireframing & Prototyping

Wireframes and prototypes allow UX designers to quickly test out ideas. Most employers look for this qualification in hopeful UX designers when hiring. You could have basic prototyping skills like hand-drawing models, or advanced understanding including the usage of dedicated tools and digital mockups.

  • Information architecture

An understanding of information architecture is a must for a UX designer. This knowledge will help them organise navigations and create sitemaps that feel intuitive to the end-user.

  • Communication

There’s a lot of communication involved in a UX designer’s role. Such an individual needs to understand user requirements, communicate them to UI designers and developers, and also present ideas to clients. Thus, be it written or verbal, UX designers should be able to put across their thoughts in a clear manner.

Should you Take up Design?

Before looking for an answer to that question, it is important that you assess yourself to see if this is something that you would be interested in. To be a successful UI/UX designer, you will need to possess an intricate understanding of products and business. You will also require creative and analytical skills that can see you through your day without much trouble.

A good UX developer would know how to understand the pain points of most users. Only if they can ensure that the designed product doesn’t have any flaws. Similarly, a UI designer would possess a deep understanding of fluid layouts, colour combinations, and eye-catching designs. If you are eager to solve challenging and complex problems, you will be a natural fit for these kinds of roles. We hope that the comparison of UI vs UX design in this blog post has helped you in understanding the key differences between the two fields.

If you’re ready to take up UI/UX Design as your career, do consider opting for a professional course in the field to boost the chances of bagging a great job. Acquiring specialised skills needed for UI/UX design field is a must when it comes to being great at your work. And if you’re wondering where you can learn UI/UX design skills, we recommend Springboard’s 1:1 mentoring-led, project-driven UI/UX design online program that comes along with a job guarantee.