Design 101: UI & UX

If you're friends with someone from the design-and-tech industry, chances are you may have been hearing the terms "UI" and "UX" come out of their mouths. Regardless of connections, you may have overhead tech, hip people use these terms, like, "The UI could be better" or "The UX isn't a fit for this app's target users".

What do these terms really mean? Who are considered UX or UI Designers, even? Is it anything like Graphic Design? Do people purposely use these terms to sound cool and techie? Keep reading and you will find the answers.

 

Acronyms Explained

Quite simply, UX stands for "User Experience" and UI stands for "User Interface". Both parts are crucial to creating a product as they work hand in hand to get the "feel" and "design" just right.

While they sound similar, these two are actually different in what aspects of the product they touch. UX design is more analytical and technical, whereas UI design is similar to graphic design, only a little more complex.

To make things a little bit clearer, think about the human body:

The codes are like the bones which give the body structure,

The UX design is represented by our organs, optimizing our body and making sure we function the best way possible

Finally, the skin represents the UI Design, the aesthetics and appearance that "packages" the bones and organs into a pleasing output

 

User Experience Design

By definition, the UX Designer's main goal is to make sure the "experience" or feel of whatever product a consumer has is flawless. Think about an app that may not be so pretty but one that you keep coming back to. For "unpretty" products, you're buying the usability, the function, the ease in handling that product. That's UX Design. 

 

According to Wikipedia:

 
User experience design (UXD or UED) is the process of enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty by improving the usability, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the customer and the product.
 

Regardless of whether it's an app or a physical product (like cars or street lamps), UX design covers any and all interactions between customer and company or brand. As a process, UXD can be applied to almost anything. (Even this website went through the UX Design process!) 

A UX Designer takes on many faces: the marketer, the designer, the project manager, and so forth as needed. It's a complex role and a very challenging one. The end goal is to connect business goals to a user's needs through testing and refinement to satisfy both sides.

 

User Interface Design

While UX is all about optimization of a product to ensure its effectiveness and functions, UI design deals with the "look and feel", the way a product is presented to delight its users. Like I mentioned earlier, UI and UX complement each other. Sadly, employers often confuse these two professions, expecting more or less from one or the other. 

Like User Experience Design, UID is as challenging as it is multi-faceted. It's main purpose is to ensure that products provide an attractive and responsive experience for users. 

 

According to Usability.gov:

 
User Interface (UI) Design focuses on anticipating what users might need to do and ensuring that the interface has elements that are easy to access, understand, and use to facilitate those actions. UI brings together concepts from interaction design, visual design, and information architecture.
 
SOURCE

SOURCE

 

In short...

UI and UX co-exist - not in competition but in harmony. Great UI (appearance, form) should be complemented by amazing UX design (function, usability). Imagine using an app that looks slick but requires hours to fully load the contents. Imagine an incredibly functional website that has everything you need and is easy to use, but is so bland you'd rather visit the next site.

 

If you want to know more about UI/UX Design, tune in to the blog as more content regarding the subject will be posted in the following months. Hope you learned a thing or two!

XO, OLIVIA