December 11, 2020

UX vs UI design - what's the difference?

You can have a stunning user interface, but if it’s hard to navigate...

UX (User Experience) and UI (User Interface) are two design disciplines used to make products that appeal to users. Oftentimes, as a designer, you will need to utilise the principles of UI design and UX design to deliver projects. Trying to wear both hats can be challenging because the two disciplines require different mindsets.

What is the difference between UI design and UX design? Are they the same thing? Which one is right for you? How do you learn these disciplines? In this article, we’re going to be exploring these two very different approaches to design. By the end of this article, you will be able to understand the difference between UI and UX design and know which one is right for you.

The UX Vs UI design debate shows no signs of relenting. The truth is, if you want to design products that meet the needs of your target market, you are going to need to combine the disciplines of UI design and UX design to create meaningful user experiences. You can have a stunning user interface, but if it’s hard to navigate, it won’t be of use to anyone.

We will be exploring the following questions about UX Vs UI design in this article:

Let’s start by taking a look at UX design…

What is UX Design?

UX design stands for user experience design. UX design all comes down to customer satisfaction and loyalty. It’s about making a product more enjoyable to use. From laptops to software packages to desk chairs, the designers of these products have to put the user experience at the forefront of their minds to ensure strong product-market fit.

While user experience design can apply to products of all shapes and sizes, UX design is a term predominantly used by those working in tech industries to build websites and applications. 

What are the responsibilities of a UX designer?

What are the responsibilities of a UX designer and what do they actually do? A UX designer would typically conduct competitor analysis to understand how users are interacting with products. From this, they will develop and structure content in a way that best meets the needs of the users, enhancing the overall user experience.

Wireframing and prototyping is another major responsibility of a UX designer. This will help a UX designer to find the best structure for their content. An exceptional UX designer is typically concerned with the execution of a product. They will be receptive to feedback from users on the product because data analytics plays an important role in user experience.

The role of a UX designer is ongoing. Even when a product hits the market, the job of the UX designer is to continue developing the user experience based on product data and user feedback. As users start to experience a product, they are likely to have opinions on how it could be improved to further meet their needs. It then becomes the job of the UX designer to build on the user experience and address this feedback.

Students learning about UX in mobile applications

Is UX Design for you?

This is a tough but interesting role. On some days, a UX designer will feel like a strategist. On other days, they will feel like a creative. If you’re a designer that has always been fascinated by analytics, UX design is going to be right up your street! Effective user experiences are always informed by analytics. Having the ability to respond to user feedback is an invaluable skill for a designer to have. In the world of user experience design, this can take you far.

If you’re interested in what users are thinking and feeling while interacting with a product, UX design could be for you. Naturally, to effectively respond to a design brief, you will need to incorporate elements of the user experience mindset into your overall approach. Even if UX design isn’t for you, it’s important to understand why a data-first approach works.

How can you learn UX design?

There are plenty of resources online to help you learn about UX design. At Bolt, we are committed to delivering educational blog content for aspiring UX designers to learn more about the craft. You can also find UX design courses online offering step-by-step tutorials, giving you insights into the world of UX design.

User Experience is universal

What is UI Design?

UI design is the visual cousin of UX design. It focuses more on the look and feel of the product. There is definitely some crossover between UI design and UX design because both approaches are ultimately trying to achieve the same thing. UI design is predominantly about visual communication, crafting the core visual characteristics of a product.

UI designers are typically less focused on things like data and analytics. This doesn’t come from a place of ignorance. These designers simply have different priorities. A UI designer is supposed to take all of the work done by UX designers and build on it. For instance, if a UX designer has been wireframing and prototyping a design based on user feedback, it would be the job of the UI designer to turn this into an attractive design for users to navigate.

A wireframe and prototype might meet all of the target market’s needs but is it aesthetically pleasing? The synergy of UI and UX design can help to balance the unique requirements of the target market with aesthetics and visual appeal. The UX designer creates the skeleton and the UI designer adds some flesh to the bone. There shouldn’t be any talk of UI Vs UX design. The two disciplines complement each other.

UI prototypes for a mobile application

What are the responsibilities of a UI designer?

The responsibilities of a UI designer are less varied and more focused than a UX designer. First and foremost, a UI designer will establish the look and feel of the product. The UI designer will do all of the graphic design and visual design for the product. From buttons and typography to colour palettes and stylisations, a UI designer will seek to create a consistent visual design.

You can now view websites and software applications on many different devices, all with their unique screen sizes and resolutions. A UI designer will have to account for each of these devices when building visual designs. Website design on a desktop will look very different when it’s viewed on a mobile device. It’s the responsibility of the UI designer to make sure there is also a suitable mobile design for the website.

Is UI Design for you?

A UI designer will often spend a considerable amount of time making sure the branding is consistent across the interface. If you are interested in branding and expressing design through visual communication, you might want to consider being a UI designer. When you are working on smaller projects, you may have to absorb the responsibilities of a UX designer to construct wireframes and prototypes.

How can you learn UI design?

There are so many places to learn UI design. If you are someone that learns by doing, you can find plenty of step-by-step tutorials on YouTube to help you develop your user interface design skills. You can also sign up to courses (in-person or via websites such as Skillshare and Udemy). UI design closely resembles graphic design in many ways but there are some key skills you will need to learn before becoming a UI designer. Try looking at popular websites such as Dribbble and Behance and emulating designs in your software tool of choice. When you get stuck, use YouTube or design communities to find solutions to your problems. There is no better way to improve your UI skills than by practicing as much as you can. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. You will improve.

UX Vs UI Design - Final Thoughts

UX Vs UI design is an outdated debate. If you want to be a successful and effective designer, you will need to utilise the disciplines of both UI design and UX design. Bolt is the fastest way to receive design feedback to inform your creative work. You simply upload a design or enter a live URL to create feedback boards. These boards can then be shared with others, helping you to collect feedback with ease.

Are you ready to learn more about Bolt? Try it for free today!