Natalia Fedorova, Regional Coordinator

17 July 2020

What are UI and UX Design?

If you ask a random person to define design, they will mostly be talking about illustrations, fonts, and maybe even colors. This, however, is just one aspect. To answer the question properly, we have to look at what both UI and UX design are.

What is UX Design?

UX stands for User Experience. After figuring out what your users should be getting from a product, you define how they will be getting it. Generally speaking, this is what you would call UX Design.

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A key concept in UX Design is user journeys. These are the paths that users take to solve their needs. For example, ordering a taxi on Uber for me looks like: 

  1. Open the app
  2. Tap address field
  3. Enter the address
  4. Choose the relevant option from the suggestions for the address input
  5. Confirm pre-selected UberX option
  6. Confirm pickup spot
  7. Agree to COVID safety guidelines

Now, this process may be different in a lot of steps. You may not have a pre-saved credit card; a group of friends needs a larger vehicle option; the pickup spot needs to be adjusted; you’ll have to message the driver or reply to them. Most importantly, this is just the tip of our iceberg: a user journey starts before the customer first saw you. It doesn’t end after that. 

You should also consider people’s emotional state through the whole ordeal. Ideally, they finish interacting with your product happier than they were in the lead-up. This is where proper UX research comes in handy. As part of it, you will be having user interviews with people that use or are expected to use your product to verify that. Take a look at this Starbucks example from codica: slight anxiousness about going to a busy coffee shop is well worth the tasty drink.

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Essentially, this is what the UX design is about. A more IT savvy person would often have interface mockups as their first association with UX design. They are, however, a means to an end. If you place the screens, elements, menus, buttons in an intuitive way, users are more likely to be happy about fast results and less likely to curse your product after hiccups. 

Summing up, a UX designer makes products convenient and accessible. This involves both creativity and analytical thinking to keep things smart and tidy.

What is UI Design?

Now, with UI standing for User Interface, UI design covers the visual part. In a large company, it’s a UI designer likely will receive a mockup like you saw above and be tasked to make it visually pleasing. This is where the fancy stuff with colors, shapes, and texts begins. 

Unfortunately, UI design is not all sunshine and rainbows—not just because people start preferring dark themes. Sometimes, you will be spending time on buttons. Or checkboxes. Or arrows. Don’t get me wrong, you can be creative about them and there’s more to UI design than that, but this is not what all visuals-enthusiast-turned-designer would be prepared for. Luckily, the fun part outweighs what some would consider the stale one.

Another good news is that UI designers employ analytical thinking, too. As part of keeping things consistent, you will be making a User Interface kit. It features all the reusable elements like buttons, navigation bars, links, dropdown menus, input fields, forms. UI kits take input from the work of the project’s UX designer: there’s only a heading this big you could fit into a small pop up. Take a look at the example from none other than Adobe.

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User Interface design also has objective rules that you ideally follow and people can check if you indeed do. This includes choosing a color scheme with similar/contrasting colors, maintaining good contrast for the text and the background, and more. Doing your homework properly here keeps people hooked or at least makes sure they do not leave the website (or building) at once.

Also, a UI designer, just like a UX designer, should keep and/or make people happy. A primary color that resonates well with the product category (red for dating, green for environmental solutions) inspires trust and makes the customer feel their need is about to get addressed. An artistic font does wonders for creative businesses. Good visual separation of website blocks makes people happy about saving their time. 

What is UI/UX Design?

When you see job adverts for UI/UX Designers, it means that a company wants one person to do both. In my opinion, you shouldn’t necessarily blame it on the corporate getting greedy. Things get done faster with fewer hiccups when you have a talented designer both providing vision and executing it. Admittedly, there’s a financial point involved as well: not all companies have the scale to keep a purely UX designer occupied. 

As far as job search goes, it is infinitely better to have both UI and UX skills. You can get a two-in-one job at small startups or specialize in something with a big company. Besides, remote and freelance work prospects are also better for people who can do both. Hiring a remote UX designer is tricky in terms of both communication with the UI counterpart and user interviews.

We at Beetroot Academy are design yin & yang believers as well. Our design course for beginners introduces you to both User Interface and User Experience design. You will get the skills and learn the tools to keep living in harmony or specialize in either UI or UX.