The Basics: What are UX and UI Design?

If you’ve recently started your journey into the world of software development, you may have heard conversations about the great “UX” of a product or the poor “UI” of an app. Is this some kind of secret code you`ll never understand? Are these people just making things up to trick you? Are they just trying to look cool? Well, read on to find out!

Both of these terms are referring to different professions that have been around for centuries and have been redefined by the tech industry as UX and UI design. UX Design refers to “User Experience Design”, while UI Design stands for “User Interface Design”. So what’s the difference? While both are crucial elements of the product design process and work together to shape a product, the skills required for each are quite different. Where UX Design is a more analytical and technical field, UI Design is closer to graphic design with different responsibilities. 

In short: They are two different types of design.

UX Design is like the schematic backbone of a solution, similar to an architects blueprint for a building with doors, walls and other elements. A UX designer draws a schematic for software that encompasses all the elements, from the sign-in page to the log out button and everything in between. The goal of UX is to ensure that a product solves the users problems in a way that is intuitive and comfortable. 

On the other hand, UI Design is responsible for the aesthetic appeal and emotional response of the software. A UI designer will choose, colours, fonts, button styles, illustrations and animations – they are tasked with ensuring the product creates a positive and memorable emotional experience for the user. Now that we`ve got the basics out of the way, let’s look a little deeper! 

User Experience Design

The term “UX Design” is credited to one Don Norman, a  cognitive scientist who invented the term in the 1990s stating that “User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-users interaction with the company, its services and its products”. This means that regardless of its application, UX Design encompasses any interaction between a company and its customers. It is similar to the scientific process as it can be applied to anything. 

In the case of software, UX Design deals with determining the placement of visuals on the screen, sequences of user actions, details of how search works as well as first and final impressions. To create an intuitive design, UX designers are well versed in social sciences and psychology for the purpose of successfully catering to the target customer. Similar to market researchers, UX Designers deal with analyzing and structuring large amounts of feedback while also integrating the results into the product. 

In short: UX Design is about making everything seamless and simple.

User Interface Design

UI Design is what gives software attitude. It deals with colours, styles, fonts and other visual elements. Good UI Design will take a UX Design and give it soul and personality. The UI design process brings the brands voice into the software through visuals (and sometimes even sound), with the goal of making it instantly recognisable as a part of the brand. This process challenges the designers creativity and communication skills as they work closely with UX designers to ensure the end result is intuitive.

In practice, many companies hire people who can do both at once. For many projects, assigning one person to do both helps to keep the design simple. Even though the disciplines are very different on paper, many designers take the time to learn both so that they can take a holistic approach to the design process. For more ambitious projects, assigning separate designers ensures the best design possible.

No matter if the tasks are separated or not, user experience and user interface design are crucial to creating an intuitive, quality product – a product that is aesthetically pleasing, stimulates emotions and is a pleasure to use.

Do you need assistance in creating a solid digital product? Why not leverage the expertise of our designers? Contact us here.

Liam Kenneth Doye

Founder & CEO at Cognishift Technologies

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