Aren’t UX and UI just the same thing with different names?This is a challenge that I deal with a lot in the field. I meet with a client, explain my vision for how to help their business and then they say something similar to this, “Well, so basically you are a web designer.” Insert sad face emoji here. 🙁 Then I usually have this conversation, “Yes a lot of my customers see the two professionals, User Experience and User Interface (website/mobile development) as the same, but they actually work together to create the most effective customer and user experience for you and for your customers.” This usually allows me a few more moments to give my ‘elevator pitch’ about who does what, etc.
First, let’s knock out these terms. A UX Designer is someone who is concerned primarily with understanding the user (your customers), mapping out an intuitive customer journey to help them achieve their desired tasks and then ensuring that the proposed design is as pleasant and easy to use as possible.
Conversely, a UI Designer is principally concerned with the overall visual design of the website; font size, colors to be used on the website, where buttons are placed and more. They are concerned with how the website ‘looks’ in an aesthetic way. They have a keen sense of design and how to make graphic elements visually appealing for the end user.
In a best case scenario, you would have a UX designer who sits down with potential end users, understand their needs and behaviors, looks at your competitors, considers your business needs and then creates a wireframe (rough draft) of where they want what elements placed on a website to help your customers achieve whatever task that they are trying to perform. At that point, the UX designer would hand off the rough draft to a UI designer who would make all of that research and intended customer journey come to life with beautiful graphics, well laid out page elements and more.
I think it’s worth noting that UX and UI designers work on physical products, as well as digital assets (websites, apps, etc). To really bring this whole concept home I decided to use a concrete example that is easy and fun to understand. While researching for this blog post, I found an excellent article on the Rubix Cube on thetelegraph.co/uk. When Erno Rubik, a hungarian architect and the inventor of the Rubix cube, created this magical little cube of madness back in 1974, he never intended for it to become a toy that would span 40+ years. It was a ‘tool to help people understand 3 dimensional geometry’. As the years went on, the toy become insanely popular and now has professional speedcubers who have competitions around the world and try to beat each other at solving the cube in record time.
As this was never the intended use of this ‘toy’, the original design had to be recreated to take the new ‘intended user experience’ into account. Now, the cube would need to be redesigned to move faster and more smoothly through the puzzle algorithms to achieve the intended task-solving the puzzle. In this instance, the UX designers would sit down with or test ‘cubers’ (people who speed cube) to see how they used the cube, what caused them frustration and what they wanted the cube to do. Once they had that information, they would hand it off to engineers/UI designers to bring the vision of the UX designer to life. In this example, Rubiks Cube’s Speedcube was born. Same classic design and appeal, but with a highly improved user experience.
I hope that helps everyone to at least have a basic working understanding of the difference between these two specialties and to appreciate how they work together and how powerful combination that these two professionals can be for your business.
All the best always,
I write simple, small business tips about creating a unique customer experience that helps your customers to choose you over your competitors.
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