We’ve touched on the differences between UI and UX design and discussed the misuse of the two acronyms. In short, the goal of UX design is to meet your user’s needs while maximizing functionality whereas UI design is concerned with the look and feel. Although vastly different, both elements are crucial to the development of any product. Now that you know how their purposes differ, let’s discuss the differences between the two processes.

User Experience (UX) Design

“User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.

-Don Norman, Cognitive Scientist & User Experience Architect

User experience, in a nutshell, could be described as the process of developing and improving the quality of interaction between users and a product. Keep in mind that UX design is not related to visuals, but rather, the ease of use of an app or website and the effectiveness of its elements.

Some examples of user experience research are:

  • Measuring the time that it takes a user to complete a certain task within your website, or to find particular information
  • Storyboarding to find the opportunity for improvements in a user’s journey with a product
  • Contextual inquiries/observing users who work with the product on a regular basis and how they interact with it
  • Interviewing users to assess which elements are ineffective or causing confusion
  • Analyzing the overall structure and hierarchy of information and elements within the website or app
  • Auditing a website or app to ensure that best practices are properly implemented
  • Measuring the users’ ease of use with a project by using SEQ (single ease questions)

User Interface (UI) Design

User interface design typically comes after user experience design. Once the necessary elements are in place, the visual identity can be determined. The UI design process determines what color scheme, typography, photography, and graphics will be used within your product.

A few examples of what the user interface development process entails:

  • Moodboards and competitor research in terms of style
  • Sketching & brainstorming
  • Wireframes, mockups, and prototypes
  • Style guides and brand specs

The Design Process: Putting it All Together

Without user experience design, you could create a great looking website or app but it may be too difficult for users to properly engage with. Similarly, you could have a well-researched and developed product, but without UI design it may not be attractive enough to gain any traffic from users and will be less enjoyable for your audience. Think of UX as the left side of the brain – analytical and scientific, and UI as the right – creative and inventive. Although they are very different practices with different responsibilities, UI and UX are important tools that work together harmoniously to create a seamless and stunning design.