It’s harrowing hearing every other person call himself/herself a UI/UX designer, as long as they can double click the Adobe XD icon and draw a rounded rectangle. Some of them might even be far from it, doing mostly Brand Identity design Vis a Vis anything UI/UX.
So, who’s a UI/UX designer? Can one be the other, or are they totally different disciplines?
That’s what we’ll answer here. You’ll get to understand what user experience design and user interface design is, what each entails, and whether you genuinely do one, the other, or both.
User Experience Design (UX)
User experience design is referred to as UX in short. And unlike UI, it has less to do with rounded corners and shadows, but more of the users feel use and journey with your system.
UX collectively defines the user experience and usually falls at the beginning of the design cycle in the User-Centered Design process. As a UX designer, you should understand what problem you are trying to solve and what impact your solution has on your users.
In a nutshell, you’re offering the solution to a problem with functionality, use, and feel at the core.
To understand a problem, there are various tools and processes a UX designer can use, which is part of the research phase in the user-centred design process.
Okay, user-centred design again?
Yes. The user-centred design process helps in identifying solutions and give a deeper understanding of the problem trying to be solved. This process has four parts to it.
During this phase, no design has been done. You’re mostly engrossed doing surveys, questionnaires, and getting customer personas spun up. All this work leads to the second phase, which is the concept phase.
In the concept phase, the UX designer will use the collected data to propose solutions. This concept phase may be presented as a sketch, storyboard, or simple screen designs.
The level of detail, or as known in the industry, fidelity, is not put into consideration during this phase. Hey, even stick figures can work! This stages primary goal is to pick a concept solution that will work, despite the kindergarten graphics.
The design phase is where the UX designer takes the concept solution and turns it into a fundamental layout. At this stage, it should all be about the content. This is the part where you choose the fonts, images, and colours. The design phase allows the team to make sure that the concept solution makes sense.
This is where the design is given to users to test and give feedback. The design is altered and refined over and over again to meet the users’ expectations. This phase determines the viability of the solution. If the design fails at this point, you need to get back to the drawing board and figure out what you missed.
Once the UX designer is happy, the wire-frame is then passed to the UI designer.
This is the core
User experience design is all about solving problems for your users, with something functional, navigable, and easy to use. Thus, UX designers are responsible for the users’ satisfaction and interactivity with a product.
It’s less about visuals, more about analytics.
Getting a product in front of your customer in the testing phase allows you to continually improve your product allowing it to satisfy your users’ needs and wants. Remember, testing should be an iterative process:- all the little changes you make compound over time to produce dramatic results.
User Interface design (UI)
This is where kindergarten prowess gets thrown out of the window, and Da Vinci graphics are thrown right in. As Dieter Rams put it, “Good design is making something intelligible, great design is making something memorable and meaningful.”
Enough of philosophy. What exactly is UI design?
User Interface design is the process of designing visual interfaces for software. Once the UX designer hands the design over, it is the work of the UI designer to give the design life using the selected images, colour, and fonts.
A UI designer will typically have a background in majorly art subjects such as (or mostly only) graphics design. Some experience in a visual field is, however, needed. This individual should be best placed to make accurate decisions on critical visual aspects of the project.
A UI designer will use tools such as Sketch or Adobe XD to create rich designs that are as realistic as possible. This is the product design stage, where all the decisions on visual identity happen.
Skill and Teamwork are Key
A UI designer can make or break a great wire-frame. If the colours, images, and fonts don’t match the concept and content, then the website or app will not be as attractive and useful as it needs to be. Thus, UX and UI have to work in sync. You can’t have node without NPM now, can you?
UI plays an integral part in influencing the perception of a user to the brand. Even simple things like the choice of colour on a button can double the click rate.
On the flip side, a powerful image can dramatically increase emotion and create a feeling of connection with your audience. And when paired correctly with the perfect font and colour, this alone can supersize your business or product.
The critical thing here is to understand design language, work with the UX designer, and keep up with the trends.
Umm, what is Design language?
The design language is a universal set of standards usually stored on an internal website where designers can reference visual elements such as typography, icons, and colour schemes throughout the business.
With many varied design options, design language brings consistency amidst all this chaos. This benefits not only the designers and business but also the users. With a design language in place for almost 80% of the design, UI designers can focus on every last detail.
Thus, time gets spent on things and elements that matter to customers that may have been neglected in the past.
The design language also allows for elements to be reused multiple times. On top of that, users with disabilities and those with visual impairments should also be considered when coming up with the design language.
In a nutshell
UX and UI are as far apart as five minutes to machine learning. While there’s still a secure link between the two, a UX designer carries a more analytical responsibility than the visuals-laden UI designer.
With this knowledge, you should now be able to discern between the two roles, see which one suits you best, and have a better CV or hiring requirements for your next project.