Feb 02, 2023
6 min read
Many people don’t know the difference between UI and UX design. Don’t worry – as digital consultants, we don’t only know exactly what it is, but we’ll also happily tell you more about it. Read on!
What is UI and UX?
User interface (UI) is a digital product’s interactive visual elements. UI design aims to provide a user with a product that’s both visually appealing and easy to use with a consistent layout, typography, colours, and icons. We talked more about UI design in our articles "What is UI design?" and "What is web UI design, and how to design it for your website".
User experience (UX) refers to the user’s general experience interacting with a digital product – from the moment they first come across it to the moment they accomplish their task or goal. UX design aims to shape user experience into something pleasant and easy. Products designed with UX in mind meet the needs of their users as they are based on data collected about their motivations, goals, and behaviours. If you want to know more about UX design, take a look at our “What is UX design and why is it important?” article.
What is the difference between UX and UI design?
UX and UI are sometimes used interchangeably (which isn’t quite right as you’ll discover later). You’ve probably met people who would describe themselves rather as “UI/UX designers” instead of just choosing one. So what’s the difference?
UX design focuses on the product’s functions and the experience of the user who interacts with it. UX designers rely on user research to make the product work and later use the findings to design a smooth, intuitive experience. UI design is more about the visual elements of the product, its specific design and layout (including menus, buttons, and forms). UI designers adapt their knowledge of design principles and UX to build interfaces that users find aesthetically pleasing and simple to use. In short, UI is all about looks, and UX is all about function. UX and UI design complement each other and, combined together, can make a successful product that users love.
As you can see, there’s a difference between UX and UI. They have separate roles in the design process, but both are needed to make an excellent digital product.
Where UI/UX is used – examples of UI/UX design
At Flying Bisons, we focus primarily on digital products, such as websites, web apps or mobile apps. However, UI/UX design is not limited to that. It can be adapted to a variety of industries (e.g. technology, e-commerce, transportation, healthcare) and, by extension, to various products, including:
- websites and web apps (e.g. online shopping websites, social media platforms, productivity tools),
- mobile apps (e.g. ride-sharing apps, dating apps, gaming apps),
- software (e.g. graphic design software, management software, video editing software),
- hardware (e.g. smart home devices, fitness trackers, self-service kiosks).
Where there’s human-computer interaction, there’s a need for UI/UX design. Humans and computers don’t speak the same language. Hence, UI/UX design facilitates the conversation by designing a means of communication between the user and the computer.
Why is UI/UX design important?
So far, we’ve only left traces of the answer to the question of why UI/UX design is important. Allow us to clarify the value of user interface and user experience design.
UI/UX design affects user experience and product or service satisfaction. Whether your users enjoy your product depends mainly on UI//UX design. They develop loyalty and engage more if they find it both enjoyable and easy to use. Similarly, if they don’t like it or it’s too difficult to interact with, your product will not take off as users may find it frustrating and move on to other products.
So, without further ado, here are three reasons why you should never underestimate the value of UI/UX design:
1. UI/UX design influences how users see your brand.
Well-designed UI and UX in a product make it enjoyable and lead to more customer retention. If your product looks nice, it’s easy to use, and it works, the users see that you can meet their needs. That good impression of the product transfers into their view of your brand and makes them see it as trustworthy.
2. UI/UX design can boost your user engagement and satisfaction.
If UI/UX design is a part of your product design, then any decisions you make will be based on the user’s needs and behaviour. A user-centric product design helps you focus on the most important features to the user and ensure that any decision made during the process positively impacts the user’s interaction with the product. All of this is later reflected in user engagement and satisfaction as your product ends up being user-friendly and pleasant at the same time.
3. UI/UX design enhances the effectiveness of your product or service.
If your UI and UX are well-designed, then your product is more efficient to use. Users don’t need to wonder how to use the product or read instructions; they can move straight to enjoying it. This makes the product or service more productive and effective. The best way to see if your UI/UX design works well is to conduct a UX audit – you can read more about it in our article "How to conduct UX audit and improve your business".
UI/UX design is crucial because it can determine the success of your product, and you don’t want to leave such an essential ingredient of it to chance.
What does a UI/UX developer do?
Before we explain what a UI/UX developer does, let’s focus first on who they are. A UI/UX developer is a professional with skills from three fields: UX, UI, and coding. They can create and develop digital products or services that are user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing.
So what does a UI/UX developer do?
- They conduct user research and usability testing to understand what users need and how they behave.
- They create a wireframe, mockups, and prototype and test different design options.
- They design the product, i.e. layout, typography, colours, and icons.
- They work in collaboration with front-end developers and back-end developers to secure a user-centred final product that meets the needs of the stakeholders.
- They test and refine the product to enhance user experience.
UI/UX developers can choose what they focus on – some may work more often with web design and software, while others use their skills for mobile apps.
How to become UI/UX designer?
There’s no one clear path to becoming a UI/UX designer, but there are several things you can start doing that will help you forge your own.
Educate yourself in UI and UX design.
First of all, you need to learn about UI and UX. While you can get a degree in UX design, it’s not necessary. There are plenty of classes you can take to learn more – for example, we offer UX and UI design courses at Flying Bisons Academy. Those classes come with certificates proving you’ve got the right skills (which you can show your future employer).
As a UI/UX designer, there are some things you have to know, such as design principles. For instance, learn colour theory, colour schemes, design thinking, and spacing. And while there’s a lot to know, there’s, even more, to be able to do. You should know design tools and be able to use them. So familiarise yourself with design software, such as Adobe Creative Suite, Sketch, or Figma.
Build a portfolio.
A UI/UX designer needs a strong portfolio that shows what they can do and proves their skills. You can start building it by participating in design challenges or creating a design project for yourself.
This might be the hardest step. You can gain experience by working on your personal projects (e.g. your own website showcasing your work), freelancing or interning at a design or technology company. And if you want to kill two birds with one stone, check out Flying Bisons Academy. Our courses will not only provide you with the necessary skills and knowledge, but by the end, you will also have a chance to win an internship with Flying Bisons. We’re the leaders in digital consulting, so the experience you’d gain with us would be hard to beat. Plus, we pay our interns, and each has gone on to have successful careers in UI/UX design.
Is UI/UX a good career?
UI/UX design is growing as a field, and skilled professionals are in demand. More and more companies from various industries have begun to realise how vital user-centred design is and are looking for designers who can make their products user-friendly. UI/UX designers can expect to see many job offers on the market from both big companies and start-ups.
UI/UX designer salary
If you’re considering UI/UX design as your potential career choice, there’s always the question of money. Don’t worry – UI/UX designers can expect a high earning potential. According to Glassdoor, a UI/UX designer’s average salary is around $80,000 annually. Keep in mind that it’s an average, and those numbers can go even higher in bigger cities.
In general, the salary depends on the designer’s experience and the industry they choose to work in, as some of them may be able to offer better compensation than others.
Already a UI/UX designer?
Are you already a UI/UX designer looking for a great opportunity to truly spread your wings? Join Flying Bisons and start your journey with us. Check out our career website to read more about what it’s like to work with us and check open positions.
We started this article with a question: “What’s the difference between UX and UI design?”. UI design focuses on how the product looks, and UX design focuses on how the product works. UI designers focus on visual aspects, and UX designers care about the general user experience. You might prefer one to the other, but in the end, you need both to create a product that will succeed in the market.
Is UI/UX the same as graphic design?
Shortly: no, but they’re related. Graphic design can be described as a form of visual communication and can be used in branding, marketing, and advertising. UI/UX design refers to the user’s general experience while interacting with a product or a service. It combines user-friendliness with visual appeal.
Graphic design is all about visual communication, and UI/UX design is about the general user experience. Graphic designers concentrate on visual solutions, and UI/UX designers focus on creating user-centred designs. Therefore, graphic design and UI/UX design are related but distinct from each other.
Do UI and UX require coding?
Some UI/UX designers know how to code and specialise in developing interactive elements. They’re called UX (or UI) developers, and they can bring their designs to life by using front-end technologies.
Is UI part of UX?
Yes, user interface (UI) is a part of user experience (UX) design. At the centre of UI design lies the visual aspect of a product, such as a layout, typography, colour, and icons. All of those make a user interface aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. UX design’s focus is broader and involves the user’s all-around experience of the product or service. UX designers base their understanding of the users on user research, and they rely on several techniques, such as usability testing and information architecture, to create user-friendly designs.
Is UI and UX back-end or front-end?
UI and UX design are mainly the front-end of a product or a service. Front-end development refers to the part of the digital product that users interact with directly, so you can say that UI and UX designers work on the front-end of a digital product. Back-end development refers, on the other hand, to the server-side of a product, such as databases, server-side logic, and APIs. Back-end developers create the logic and functionality that ultimately drives the product.
So while UI and UX focus on the front-end of the product, the UI and UX designers might work closely with back-end developers to guarantee that the final version of the product works as it was designed.