The key details between UI and UX are often overlooked and confused with each other. For starters, these two are entirely different and are not interchangeable by any means. We’ll be discussing the main UI and UX differences throughout this article, along with various aspects of the two parts of web development.
What is UI?
In a nutshell, the term UI stands for User Interface and refers to the front-end elements using which people interact with a product. For example, icons, wallpapers, and the overall look and feel of the product fall under the UI of the product. It’s all about elegant typography, mesmerizing yet simple images, and multiple other visual design elements.
While UI serves a crucial part in hooking customers to the product, UX is what keeps them hooked. In other words, UI only focuses on how a product looks and feels. UI design converts a basic wireframe of a software (product) into interesting pieces of interactive visual elements. UI determines the quality of your product’s interaction with the user which makes it highly valuable.
A bad UI is all it takes to lose a potential client, UX isn’t even part of the game yet.
UI can be further divided into many parts, 3 of them are the most prominent- Graphical User Interface (GUI), Command Line Interface (CLI), and Voice-enabled User Interface (VUI).
- Command Line Interface
Command Line Interface or CLI for short refers to the old-aged UI used in the 70s when computers and graphics were in their infancy. Back then, users had to utilize the CLI to interact with the computer. The interaction was simple to look at but harder to interpret.
In CLI, the computer responds according to the command typed by the user in the form of a printed output or by displaying a message on the screen. You can also access CLI with applications such as the Command Prompt, Windows power shell, or the DoS operating system. However, the user, in this case, has to write commands in machine language so that the computer can interpret them. Learning and typing machine language can be hard for some users, which makes the interaction highly complex.
- Graphical User Interface
The Graphical User Interface (GUI) is an advanced form of UI that lets users interact with the machine using a series of visual elements and graphics. GUI today is the most common type of user interface used in computers and almost every other advanced machine. GUI’s popularization began when Apple released the first Macintosh in 1984.
The release of Macintosh opened a new world of possibilities for UI designers as well as users. GUI doesn’t demand any technical skills from the user whatsoever. No wonder machines ranging from ATMs and washing machines to smartphones and computers primarily use GUI.
The transition from CLIs to GUIs explains how far we’ve come in terms of creating a better interface for the users
- Voice User Interface
Even though GUI has solved most of the complex user interface issues, it still involves a little bit of a learning curve. That’s where VUI or Voice-enabled User Interface comes into play. As the name suggests, VUI lets users interact with the system simply with voice commands.
The exponential technological growth has enabled programmers and developers to create and implement complex machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms to develop a capable VUI for users. One good example of a capable VUI can be Siri from Apple which is a virtual assistant used by Apple. Just say “Hey Siri” and it will allow you to do numerous tasks simply with your voice.
What is UX?
UX stands for User Experience and refers to the overall experience that a user gets while using your product. Unlike UI which focuses more on the designing part of the software, UX focuses more on the back-end and makes sure things go right whenever the user interacts with your product. Loading time, responsiveness, and the overall development of the product comes under its UX design.
Unlike UI, UX isn’t solely a digital experience, it encompasses every possible interaction that a user can have with a product. Some professional designers even refer to UX as “consumer experience” or “experience design”.
Take an example of your website for instance, how easy is your website to navigate? How will users from different regions discover your product? What is the experience when a user purchases something from your website? How easy is the purchasing process? And, the final impression your website leaves on the user upon leaving. The whole experience encompassing all the steps from start to finish concerns UX or User Experience.
However, it’s safe to say that UI and UX need to work hand-in-hand to provide users with the best overall experience possible. Good UI and mesmerizing visual elements will do you no good if your website is extremely slow to load and laggy to use. Likewise, better and optimized backend procedures with a boring, old-fashioned, and non-likeable UI aren’t going to help either.
What’s the Difference Between UI and UX?
In a nutshell, UI deals with transmitting the brand’s strength and capabilities through various visual elements and animations. UX deals with improving your relationship with the brand through optimizations and ease of use. UX improves the quality of interaction between the user and the brand. Let’s shed light on the key UI and UX differences:
- UI stands for User Interface and deals with the overall look and feel of the product.
- UI mostly functions at the surface level and deals with the look and feel of the product.
- It involves the front-end design, the placement of elements, and their various aspects like size, shape, etc. Background, font, and typography also fall under UI design.
- It’s the process of guiding the user through various aspects of your product with the help of an appealing interface.
- UI transmits the overall idea of the brand and its visual assets to the user.
- UI is only limited to visual design on the screen. Involves creativity and critical thinking based on the type of audience.
- UI designs are based on wireframes and prototypes.
- UX stands for User Experience and deals with the overall experience that a user gets while using that product.
- UX deals with the front-end design as well as the back-end development of your product. It can include the overall flow of your product, the feelings that a user encounters while working with your product, etc. It deals with providing the user with the best experience which combines both areas of design.
- It’s the process of improving the experience of the user while he/she navigates through the interface of your product. It involves initial research, prototyping, content, development, and testing of the product to optimize it and make it better. The UX design is the initial step of designing a product which is followed by UI designs.
- UX works on improving the customer-brand relationship with the overall experience.
- The roots of UX dig far deeper and cover the ensuring experience of using a product. It’s not limited to the content on the screen, unlike UI.
- Involves logical and convergent thinking mostly independent of the type of audience.
- UX designs are based on mockups, graphics, layouts, etc.
How Does UI and UX Work Hand in Hand?
To make a career out of UI and UX, you have to have deep knowledge about how these different aspects of a product work hand in hand to provide you with a great experience overall. There’s no such thing as UI is better or more important than UX or vice-versa. They both are equally useful and important for software to work proficiently. When you focus more on one aspect and completely ignore the other, disasters happen.
It’s the same with UI and UX, neither one of these can satisfy a user without the assistance of the other. For example, something that looks great and visually appealing but is terrible to use won’t convert customers by any means. And, it’s the same if not worse with better usability but terrible visual appearance.
So, when it comes to design, getting things right with both UI and UX is an absolute requirement in this competitive market where you can lose thousands if your website loads just a second slower than your competitor. That said, you need to work on both sides of the coin to make your product get the attention and appreciation it deserves.
UI and UX Differences in Terms of Career
To make a career out of UX and UI, you need not be a total master of both. People who have attained absolute mastery on both of them are rare to find since each of these two aspects demands different mindsets.
So, which one should you choose? Well, if you’re more on the creative side and can adapt yourself according to the trend, going for UI design is a no-brainer. On the other hand, if you’re more of an analytical type and want to challenge your logic, reasoning and want to work at the core of a product, making a career out of UX design should be ideal for you.
What Is The Job of a UI Designer?
A UI designer takes the core UX designs and initial prototypes of the final product and starts building on it, i.e, UI designing starts where UX designing ends. The UI designer takes the wireframe (skeleton of the product) and adds various visual elements to make it look better and interesting. Meanwhile, the designer also has to add responsiveness to the software so that it gets optimized for various screen sizes and types.
Here’s what a UI designer has to deal with while working on a product:
The Overall Look and Feel of the Product
- Design Research: A UI designer has to follow the trend to cope up with the competition. Trends keep changing and so should the designs. Design research is one good way to ensure your design remains up to date and follows the current design trends. Thorough research before beginning the UI design also provides the designer with inspiration and ideas to fully meet the expectations of the user.
- Visual Appearance of the Product: UI designers work on designing the layout of a product including various visual elements such as icons, typography, buttons, colors, and much more. This visual appearance and user interface decide the quality of the initial impressions that your product leaves on the user.
- Showcasing the Brand Identity as Clearly as Possible: A good UI design clearly showcases the brand identity, its ideals, and its capabilities. A UI designer has to meticulously balance the creativity of the design with the design’s usability. Meanwhile, UI designers also have to make sure not to make things too complex to grasp using interesting yet sophisticated graphic designs.
Interactivity and Responsiveness of the Final Product
- Responsiveness: The visual elements and the overall UI needs to be adjusted accordingly to the platform, screen, and device. A UI designer has to make sure the design looks equally appealing and functioning in every device and platform to satisfy users with different means of accessing your product.
- Animations and Transitions based on Input: To improve the interaction of the product with the user, a UI designer has to implement various techniques such as animations, transitions, and other interactive elements. The interactivity of the product also closely associates itself with the UX designs of the product.
- UI Prototyping: Before releasing the design to the users, UI designers make a fully functional prototype of the design to get an idea of how the product will feel when deployed. Prototyping helps designers catch minor errors and optimize them further before final deployment.
What Is The Job of a UX Designer?
A UX designer has the most important part in building software. The designer’s job is to work at the very core of the software. He researches what type of audience the product or the software is going to have upon public release, their interests, and how the product can meet their needs and requirements to the fullest.
In addition, a UX designer creates the wireframe of the UI and the initial prototype of the final software for the UI designer to work on.
Here’s how a UX designer creates the foundation of a product:
Strategy and Content
- Planning: Since the development of a product starts with UX design, a UX designer has to form a concrete strategic plan to ensure proper teamwork. It also makes sure that everyone involved in the project works to achieve the same goal.
- Competitor Analysis: A thorough assessment of the competition is required to ensure the product doesn’t lag behind the competition. This is to provide users with an experience better than the competition.
- User Research: A UX designer’s work is mostly conceptual and based on research and data. It often involves researching the audience which will have the maximum number of users. What problems do the majority of potential customers currently encounter while using the competitors’ products and how to solve them in your version of the product? These are the areas where you as a UX designer should focus most.
Building the Wireframes and Prototypes of the Product
- Wireframing: Wireframing is the basic skeleton of the interface of the product, covering everything from how the UI will look and how it’ll function. Wireframes can be drawn digitally with software like AutoCAD or they can be drawn on paper if you like going old school.
- Prototyping: Prototyping is converting the design or wireframe into a barely functioning product. This is done to get a general idea of how the product will perform with all the UI designs in place. UX designers also make use of multiple user-testing programs to let real users use the product and give feedback. This addresses most of the issues in the product.
- Analysis and Iterations: UX designers have to work hand-in-hand with other analysts, product managers, and researchers to make sure nothing is left behind before the final deployment of the product. They analyse the test results and plan the next phases of the development based on those results. Meanwhile, they also have to fix the addressed issues before proceeding to the next development phase.
3D in UI and UX
The involvement of 3D in UI and UX designs is growing at a pace never seen before. For example, 3D UI designs have been in demand for years, especially UI/UX designs, where aesthetics matter a lot. 3D renders are often produced with lifelike details, provided that the artist who undertakes the project is skilled enough. This is a significant benefit for user interface design as such images may save the game in situations where photo content is either impossible to obtain or prohibitively expensive.
Various eCommerce giants have redesigned and enhanced their applications’ UI with 3D, enabling a friendlier environment. 3D has also helped advertisements reach a whole new level. Advertisements had hardly seen conversion rates this high in the past. Not to mention how easy the overall experience becomes for the end consumer, all thanks to 3D.
Overall, 3D has played a crucial role in UI/UX design. 3D has opened up doors to endless possibilities with everything it offers, enabling artists to unleash their creativity to the fullest. What’s more? Thanks to free and open-source software like Blender stepping into the market. It is complemented by the availability of cheap yet capable hardware. Learning and implementing 3D in UI designing is easier than ever before.
While the differences between UI and UX are mostly clear and significant, they need to work hand in hand to enable a hassle-free operation for the users. UI design demands a creative approach while UX design demands a logical and analytical approach. Neither of which can function without the other.
However, when it comes to making a career out of UI and UX designing, you should choose a path that suits your approach and mindset. Have a thorough understanding of both fields and let yourself indulge in the world of UI and UX to determine which one suits you best.