UI vs UX: what is the difference between User Interface Design and User Experience Design?
UI stands for User Interface Design, and UX Design is short for User Experience Design. With this difference, it is obvious that while UI is all about aesthetic elements of the website, UX focuses on the experience a user has with the website or product.
In layman’s terms. UI is all about the decorations that you put in while building a house, while UX is all about the foundation and structure of the house. Similarly, when you build a house, you think about the foundation, and how strong it would be, and then you would continue beautifying by connecting the rooms, the stairs and the floors of the house. Once the foundation is complete, and the house is built, you can start thinking about making the house even more appealing, deciding on the wall colors, the decorations, and all the other additions you do to make the house aesthetically appealing and stunning.
Now, let’s go a bit deeper into the two
Earlier, life was simple, with website designers having the simple task of designing a functional website, and the UX and UI were not so compartmentalized. But as the design industry grew and matured, the distinction between the two grew bigger, and the roles became more specific. However, it is important to understand that both UI and UX don’t compete with each other, rather they complement one another, because one cannot exist without the other.
What is UX design?
UX Design is all about your user’s journey while the person is interacting with the product, right from start to finish in an emotional way. The whole basis of UX design is user-friendliness, and how the user enjoys using the product.
To make this aspect successful, the designer must be familiar with the user, their needs and goals, even their struggles. For example, in an e-commerce website, the priority should be making it easy for the user to find the product they are looking for, and make a hassle-free purchase. A lot of steps are involved to make this happen, because unless the site is easy to navigate, nobody will visit. If the product is not available, the user must easily have an alternative. The designer can make use of various data that’s available to him to ensure ease of customer journey.
So, you can say the evolution of UX began with the development and growth of UI, because it gives something for the users to interact, positive, negative or neutral.
Here are some tasks of a UX Designer:
Conducting user research
The UX Designer will conduct user research to get a feel of what the user wants. This is done through interviews, surveys, observations etc. During the research, the designer will identify the pain points of the customer, and maybe even listen to their suggestions. There will definitely be more than one idea to solve the customer’s problems, so the designer will have to brainstorm on the different ideas, and decide which is feasible, and which is not. From all the feasible ideas, the most viable one would be chosen.
Addressing the usability
Usability is related to user experience, in the sense that it hovers somewhere between utility and desirability. So once you have come up with a viable solution for the user’s problem, you need to address its usability too. The usability factor is all about how to accommodate the user’s needs and desires.
Creating a strategic plan
In the next step towards UX Design, the developer creates a strategic plan to create the product, here a website, and makes sure the plan involves not just what the customers want, but what the investors and stakeholders ask for as well.
Prototyping is another important phase in the design sprints. This step comes after a viable idea is decided, so the prototype will be an experimental model of the product. This should match well with what the customers and stakeholders need, so there are different ways in which the prototype can be created – it could be paper prototyping, just sketches to high-level digital mockups.
It would help you push a solution that would benefit the company and the users. The best thing about prototyping is that you can adapt changes early, show the idea to the users to see if they like it. Having an early prototype helps prevent costly errors.
What is UI Design?
UI or User Interface is the asset that the user interacts with. So it would be more about the layout of each product element like text, button and other interface elements. And how these elements look and function. UI focuses not just on the aesthetic aspect of the website, but on the efficiency, accessibility and responsiveness of the website in totality.
The different elements of UI design
The UI elements fall into four main categories:
Navigation components – These components help the user navigate around the website, for example, the hamburger menu on Android and tab bars on Apple devices.
Input Controls – Through these controls, users can input information into the system. The users can select the information they need from a series of inputs, making it easier for them to enter information.
Informational Components – These components include tooltips, notifications, message boxes, icons, progress bars etc, and how this information is shared with the users.
Containers – A container in UI acts as an element that is created to contain the page elements to a certain, reasonable width in relation to the user’s screen. This can be coupled with other UI elements (example grid, menu) for better display.
The UI design also entails research because the end product has to be designed with user needs and expectations. For this, the UI designers and the UX designers work in tandem to know if the goals of the project and audience expectations are met. The UI designers will research on the best visual elements that would work with the best, the color palettes, the front types, patterns etc.
The combination of the two is so important in delivering excellent user experience of the product. When users compare a product, however, it would be the UX design that acts as the differentiator when it comes to your products and your competitor’s. People who experience bad UX will most certainly shift to competing products.
So actually, they don’t compete with each other, but complement their features to make sure the users navigate the website without any trouble. If the UX is good, but the UI isn’t pleasing enough, they might be discouraged from coming back, and vice versa.
In short, UI is all about how the user interacts with the website’s visual and technical components, and UX is all about overall experience given to the user.
The author: Sascha Thattil works at Software-Developer-India.com which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT departments.