While UX and UI Design are often discussed interchangeably, there are considerable differences between the two.
UX stands for user experience. UI refers to the user interface.
Both relate to website and application design but entail different aspects of the product development process. Go deep into the differences of UX and UI design in our blog.
This guide will help you understand each design role’s critical functions and how UX/UI design brings websites and apps to life.
What is UX Design?
User experience encompasses both the end-user experience and functionality of products. For example, user experience refers to whether a website feels challenging to navigate versus intuitive and straightforward.
Design based on the user experience seeks to improve the user interface (UI) aspects of a website or application, from creating clear pathways to the key information to understanding, on an intuitive level, what would make a product easier or enhance its usability.
Rather than focusing on visuals, UX designers consider the information architecture, the product as a whole, and its effectiveness for the user.
What is UI Design?
UI design is about the user interface design of a product—in short, visual design elements of a website or mobile app. UI design encompasses the graphical layout of an application, from navigation buttons to typography and color schemes.
UI design requires adapting all product development, research, and content into an intuitive and responsive application—a complex set of requirements that hinge upon a comprehensive knowledge of web design and product creation.
What does a UX/UI designer do?
UI design is about creating visual elements of an application, while UX design is about creating the best experience possible for the user. Both are essential steps in deploying a new website or application, and there is some crossover in each stage of product development.
The UX design process starts with UX research. This entails UX designers talking to potential users, for example, about their needs and pain points in navigating the buying process of a new e-commerce site.
Then, user experience design moves onto the product development process, as the UX designer maps out the user’s journey. This involves wireframing, which is the process of laying out mockups of which site elements will guide the user journey. The UI designer then follows with visual and interactive elements.
UX design centers around identifying and solving all user problems with a product, while UI focuses on designing intuitive and beautiful interfaces.
While UX design exists in all product or service development facets, UI is highly focused on digital applications and website creation.
Here’s a closer look at roles specific to UX designers:
- Conducts user research and customer analysis
- Creates a product’s structure and strategy
- Develops content within a product
- Prototyping and wireframe rendering
- Coordinates with UI designers and developers
UI designers’ graphic design work builds off the interface created in the user experience stage of product development and includes the following:
- Customer analysis and design research
- Developing branding, graphic, animation, and interactive elements
- Prototyping for UI
- Comprehensive understanding of all UX design research and development
Both UX and UI designers are focused on design thinking to attract and delight users in both a product’s function and appearance. Reading job descriptions for UX or UI roles is a great way to understand the nuances and needs of specific technologies, teams, and industries. Learn more about the role of UX designers.
How do I become a UX/UI designer?
While the journey to become a UX/UI designer can come in many forms, going to college and self-learning are common entry points. However, coding bootcamps are becoming more attractive for people interested in working in web design.
Eleven Fifty Academy’s bootcamps are a great starting point: You can learn UX/UI online with our online class. The 8-week course prepares students for an entry-level UI design role. Students who sign up can expect to spend 15 to 25 hours per week on coursework, learning necessary UX/UI foundations, and working on projects while building out a personal portfolio.
The course also includes regular one-on-one meetings with UX/UI mentors, plus weekly two-hour online sessions to help students follow the self-paced curriculum. Students gain experience working with popular UX/UI design software including Figma, Adobe XD, InVision, Balsamiq, and Git.
Bootcamps are immersive, meaning students will have the opportunity to put new skills to work straight away. Building a portfolio is a key part of the learning process, and the UX/UI course helps students create portfolio-worthy work with advice and feedback from industry experts.
Eleven Fifty offers a free UX/UI course for prospective students that provides an overview of what to expect in the full 8-week bootcamp.
How much do UX/UI designers make?
As with many tech jobs, UX/UI designers can earn competitive salaries compared to other professions. According to Glassdoor, UX designers earn an average salary of $85,277, and UI designers make $83,837.
Entry-level positions are considerably lower for both, with an average of $63,000. UI designers’ entry-level salaries, on average, hover around $50,000.
Does UX/UI require coding?
While coding isn’t the primary skill required for UX/UI design work, a basic understanding is ideal for prospective students. Knowing how to code will likely give you a competitive advantage, but it’s not a necessary function of the job.
On the other hand, prototyping is an essential skill that students interested in UI design will learn. Prototyping involves some HTML and CSS coding, for example, but not nearly as much as other web development processes.
Should I learn UI or UX first?
As we’ve already discussed, UX and UI go hand-in-hand in the product development process. User experience comes first in product development, and user interface design happens second. Similarly, learning UX before UI will help establish foundational skills to make a great application.
User experience deals in the intangible. This conceptual phase is crucial to understand before launching into the tangible—the actual user interface design and development phase. By learning UX first, you’ll gain a bird’s-eye-view of the complete product design and establish goals for the hands-on UI design work.
What’s it like to work as a UX/UI designer?
Working as a UX/UI designer requires a great deal of computer work. However, it’s a more creative field of information technology than web or software development, which appeals to those who enjoy the design process. For that reason, it may be considered lower stress than computer science jobs that can require constant troubleshooting or coding issues.
A creative mind is an excellent skill for UX/UI designers. Critical thinking and design skills are helpful, as is the ability to conceptualize what makes a great product. It can be a fun career for people who take joy in creating beautiful products that work seamlessly and intuitively.
UX/UI design is a growing field, making it an attractive choice for those interested in working with web or mobile applications.