UX and UI design. If you’ve ever had a website developed, you’ve probably heard these terms before, perhaps even interchangeably. While both can be utilized for a better web experience, there are several important differences between the two.
UX is an abbreviation for user experience, and it takes a “human-first” approach to design. In this case, the user experience encompasses every interaction between the consumer and the product or service.
UI design, or user interface, has more to do with the digital interactions between a consumer and a product or service. This can include everything from visual elements to interactive touchpoints along the user journey.
What is UX Design?
As previously mentioned, UX design takes into account the user journey — or the process a consumer follows from the discovery of a product or service to an eventual transaction. When you incorporate UX design into a website, you are directly addressing the various points of interaction along this journey. Everything in the development process — from branding to site usability — should be utilizing UX best practices for positive user interaction.
Ultimately, the goal of any product or service is to promote this positive interaction (and thus, a relationship) with the consumer. That is precisely where UX design comes into play; by asking questions about the touchpoints of the user journey, you can then make design choices that are tailored to each.
For example, in what way will the consumer be introduced to your brand? Is there a specific channel you will be using (i.e. social, blogs, billboard, etc)? Is the content you have easy to navigate, while also being consistent and accessible? UX design asks these key questions and many more.
Whether your website aims to solve a specific problem or provide critical information, you must think of how the user can leave the experience satisfied.
What is UI Design?
When someone mentions UI design, they are referring to the actual interfaces that users are interacting with. Examples of UI elements can include text, images, sliders, buttons, widgets, and other interactive features. When you design with UI in mind, you aim to ensure that all visuals, digital transitions, and animations operate smoothly for a fluid user journey.
Key Differences between UX and UI Design
Because UX and UI web design go hand in hand, they often become confused with one another or simply thrown together as one element. However, they each represent very different aspects of a product or service’s presentation to consumers. Indeed, UX and UI design can (and should) overlap to a certain degree, but it is equally important to understand what contrasts exist between them.
While UI references the visual or interactive elements of the user experience, UX puts the focus on the way a product or service “feels” as a united whole. This encompasses every factor of design contributing to a relevant, purposeful experience for the user.
Another key difference lies in the type and level of detail each process is concerned with. Someone responsible for UI design, for instance, will work with a site’s individual pages, interactions, or buttons to make sure each element is fully functional. Meanwhile, UX designers will look at the “big picture” of a product or service, making certain that the cumulative flow of a user’s journey is both optimized and consistent with their expectations.
How UX and UI Work Together
Despite their differences, both UX and UI website design work together in tandem for a smoother design and customer experience —- from the very first moment of contact to the decision to purchase. When both processes are utilized, they are two sides of the same coin, complementary to one another in their purpose for a cohesive and positive user journey.
When you combine the client-oriented messaging of UX with the technical structuring of UI, the result is ultimately a well-rounded product that resonates with users in a compelling way.
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