How often have you seen the acronyms UX vs. UI when discussing design?
If you’re like most people, you may have some confusion about what these mean. Sure, they have to do with the design process, but what exactly are they?
UX and UI are two different aspects of the design process but both have a similar goal. Companies often pair the two together when describing their latest concepts and products because they rely on each other to be successful.
No wonder many people find the two to be the same.
UI focuses on the screens, webpages, and digital media we use daily. UX includes the user’s experience from purchasing the product to using it. The goal of both UX and UI is to make your experience with a new product or website as easy and intuitive as possible.
Here’s what you need to know about UX vs. UI. The next time you see a new product hit the market or your web designer discusses a new page design, you’ll know what they’re talking about.
What to Know About UX
User experience, also known as UX, is your total experience users have with a product or website.
UX includes your interactions from when you first encounter the product and your experience.
Does the user have a positive, neutral, or bad experience? Is the product perfect as-is, or could it be better? These are questions to ask when thinking about the UX of a product.
Since UX explores the experience with a product, it expands beyond just digital and web media. UX includes the ease of use, usability, and enjoyment you can gain by using the product. UX works by improving those three aspects to produce better products.
The concept of UX has been around for thousands of years. Improvements made to tools and inventions boost their usability. Over time, this leads to better and more user-friendly inventions.
Throughout the 1900s, UX plays an integral part in industrial workplace efficiency. This includes human output and the creation of products to meet user needs. You can see this in the evolution of the car manufacturing industry during the early to mid-1900s.
Fast-forward to the 1990s when Professor Don Norman introduces the concept of UX in the technology field. New technologies begin to include the idea of UX in everything from hardware design and use to the interfaces of computers and phones.
Today, UX is important in the design of packages, product usability, and the joy (or frustration) the product brings the user. UX is necessary to continue improving products and interfaces.
UX design is a mix of product and user research, development, prototyping, and testing. UX and UI designers work together to create products and interfaces that meet user’s needs.
What to Know About UI
User interface, known as UI, is the layout of a website, webpage, or mobile application.
It includes the clickable buttons, text, images, text-input areas, and anything else you encounter on a web page or app.
The layout, transitions, and interaction of an app or website are also part of UI. User interface designers design an app or website's layout, color scheme, and buttons.
The goal of UI is to reduce the friction between the user and the goal they’re trying to accomplish through the app.
UI includes the aesthetics and personality of an app or website. UX plays a role in how UI designers layout the app. We’ll touch on this more in just a moment.
Remember, UI focuses on the look and feel of a site or app while UX focuses on the user’s experience with the app.
UX vs. UI in the Design Process
The differences between UX vs. UI work together to accomplish easy and enjoyable usability.
The UI designers draw upon the research and ideas that the UX designers collect and put together. In simple terms, the UX designers decide how an interface looks. The UI designers center on how an interface will look.
The two collaborate and work together closely throughout the entire design process. If an app needs extra buttons, the UX team will research and decide how and where they should be. The UI team will design the buttons and adapt their designs to fit the UX team’s new layout.
By working together, the UX and UI can create an app or website that answers a user’s questions while making the experience enjoyable. Businesses use UX and UI to create a positive customer experience that keeps bringing customers back.
For example, an app that solves your problem in an efficient and enjoyable manner will bring you back. Compare that to an app that is difficult to use and unintuitive.
Which app will you use again?
UX vs. UI: Research
To form effective websites and apps, UX and UI must do a lot of research. While UX and UI is different, they use the same research ideas to ensure their app and web interfaces are enjoyable and useful.
Both require developing new ideas, prototyping those ideas, and testing them. This research process includes:
- Understanding people
- Defining their problem
- Planning solutions
- Prototyping solutions with mockups
- Testing the idea
The first step in UX and UI design is to research the problem.
What problem do the users have? This is the starting point of forming apps and websites that can answer a user’s problem.
Now is the creative part.
UX and UI designers must come up with creative solutions to the problem. In an app, this can be rearranging buttons in a menu bar. Or add buttons to a page that will make navigation easier for the user.
Research on the users’ experience and their feedback determines the UX and UI design choices. A successful app or website always keeps the user in mind. If a user doesn’t like the result, then designers make improvements to meet the user’s needs.
Since UX and UI rely so heavily on each other, you may hear some people say there is no difference between UX vs. UI.
However, they are two separate entities. UX is the entire user experience of a product or app while UI is the design and feel of an app or website.
With these in mind, you can work with your web and graphic designers with confidence. Decisions involving UX and UI will make your products and apps more successful.
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