UX and UI are two concepts that are frequently interchanged yet have quite different meanings.
So, what's the difference between the two?


We've all overheard debates about a product's outstanding 'UX' or a website's awful 'UI' while walking through the hip streets of the world's IT capitals.
Is it a code you'll never be able to decipher?
Is it merely for the sake of looking cool that these people use slang? 

Okay, maybe yes to the latter, but a resounding NO to the others. You've come to the right site if you're curious about what UX and UI mean and how they differ. Here's a rundown of everything we'll be talking about in this article. Continue reading to find out what the phrases UX and UI represent, which of the two design fields pays more, and how to become a UX or UI designer.

1. What is the difference between UX and UI in the first place?

First and foremost, what do the terms UX and UI actually mean? The folks you overheard are discussing two professions that have been dubbed UX and UI design by the computer sector, despite the fact that they have existed for decades and in theory for centuries.

User experience design is referred to as UX design, whereas user interface design is referred to as UI design. Both parts are critical to a product's success and work in tandem. However, despite their professional link, their jobs are highly diverse, relating to very different areas of the product development process and the design discipline.

Before we look at the fundamental differences between UX and UI, it's important to understand what each term represents.

What is user experience (UX) Design, and what does it entail?

User experience design is a method of creating goods that puts the user first. The word "user experience" was coined in the late 1990s by Don Norman, a cognitive scientist and co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group Design Consultancy. This is how he puts it:

“User experience” refers to all aspects of a customer's interaction with a business, its services, and its goods.

— Don Norman, User Experience Architect and Cognitive Scientist

Isn't that clear? You'll notice right away that, contrary to what I hinted in the introduction, the definition makes no mention of technology, makes no mention of digital, and doesn't tell us much about what a UX designer actually does. But, as with any job, it's tough to sum up the process in a few words.

Regardless of medium, Don Norman's definition states that UX Design involves all interactions between a potential or active customer and a company. It might be applied to everything as a scientific procedure, including street lamps, cars, and Ikea furniture, among other things.

Despite being a scientific phrase, it has been nearly solely used in digital sectors since its origin; one reason for this is that the IT industry was exploding around the time of the term's introduction.

UX, in its broadest sense, refers to anything that can be felt, whether it's a website, a coffee machine, or a trip to the grocery. The interaction between a user and a product or service is referred to as the "user experience." User experience design, on the other hand, considers all of the aspects that go into creating this experience.

A user experience (UX) designer considers how the experience makes the user feel and how simple it is for them to do their desired tasks. They also do task analyses and observe users to see how they finish activities in a user flow.

For instance, how simple is it to check out when shopping online? Is it easy for you to hold the veggie peeler in your hand? Is it simple to handle your money using your online banking app?

The ultimate goal of UX design is to provide users with simple, efficient, relevant, and overall enjoyable experiences.

In part four, we'll answer the question, "What does a UX designer do?" For now, here's a quick rundown of what you need to know about UX design:

  • User experience design is the process of developing and improving the quality of interaction between a user and all facets of a company.
  • User experience design is, in theory, a non-digital (cognitive science) practice, but used and defined predominantly by digital industries.
  • UX design is NOT about visuals; it focuses on the overall feel of the experience.

What is the definition of user interface (UI) Design?

Despite the fact that it is a more established and well-known discipline, the question of "What is user interface design?" is difficult to answer due to the wide range of misinterpretations. User interface design is the complement of user experience, which is a collection of tasks aimed at optimizing a product for successful and joyful usage. It includes the look and feel, presentation, and interactivity of a product. 

However, similar to UX, it is readily and frequently misunderstood by the industries that employ UI designers, to the point where different job postings will frequently refer to the profession as completely different things.

When you look at job adverts and job descriptions for user interface designers, you'll generally see interpretations of the industry that are similar to graphic design, with branding and even frontend development thrown in for good measure.

When you seek up “expert” definitions of User Interface Design, you'll notice that they're basically the same as User Experience Design, even referring to the same structural techniques.

So, which is the correct answer? Neither, unfortunately.

So let's put this to rest once and for all. User interface design, unlike UX, is a fully digital phrase. A user interface is the point of interaction between a user and a digital device or product, such as the touchscreen on your smartphone or the touchpad on the coffee machine where you select the type of coffee you want.

UI design considers the product's look, feel, and interactivity when it comes to websites and apps. It all comes down to making a product's user interface as intuitive as possible, which includes carefully evaluating each and every visual, interactive aspect the user may come across.

A UI designer will think about icons and buttons, typography and color schemes, spacing, imagery, and responsive design.

User interface design, like user experience design, is a multifaceted and difficult job. It is in charge of transforming a product's creation, research, content, and layout into an appealing, guiding, and responsive user experience.

In part four, we'll look at the user interface design process and specific jobs that a UI designer could encounter. Let's quickly cover what user interface (UI) design is all about before we look at the primary differences between UX and UI:

  • The practice of user interface design is entirely digital.
    It takes into account all of a product's visual and interaction aspects, including as buttons, icons, spacing, typography, color schemes, and responsive design.
  • The purpose of user interface design is to visually lead the user through the interface of a product.
    It's all about giving the user an intuitive experience that doesn't force them to think too much!
  • UI design ensures that a product's interface is consistent, coherent, and aesthetically pleasant by transferring the brand's strengths and visual assets to it.  

Let's look at the fundamental distinctions between UX and UI now that we have a clear description of both.

2. What is the difference between user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) Design? 

There is an analogy I like to use to describe the different parts of a (digital) product:

If you imagine a product as the human body, the bones represent the code which give it structure. The organs represent the UX design: measuring and optimizing against input for supporting life functions. And UI design represents the cosmetics of the body; its presentation, its senses and reactions.

But don’t worry if you’re still confused! You’re not the only one!

As Rahul Varshney, co-creator of Foster.fm puts it:

“User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) are two of our field's most misunderstood concepts. A UI without UX is like a painter slapping paint on a canvas without thinking about it, but UX without UI is like a sculpture frame without any paper mache on it. The user experience (UX) comes first, followed by the user interface (UI). Both are critical to the success of the product.”

If you have any further analogies, Dain Miller brilliantly encapsulates the link between UX and UI design:

“UI represents the saddle, stirrups, and reins. The experience of being able to ride a horse is what UX is all about.”

– Web Developer Dain Miller

It's critical to recognize that UX and UI are inextricably linked; you can't have one without the other. However, UI design abilities are not required to be a UX designer, and vice versa—UX and UI are distinct positions with distinct processes and tasks!

The essential distinction to remember is that UX design is concerned with the entire feel of the experience, whereas UI design is concerned with the appearance and functionality of the product's interfaces.

A user experience designer thinks about the user's full path to solve a problem; what steps do they take? What are the duties they must complete? How simple is it to have a good time?

Much of their work include determining what sorts of problems and pain points people face, as well as how a particular solution might address them. They'll do a lot of user research to figure out who the target users are and what their wants are when it comes to a certain product. They'll then map out the user's journey across a product, taking into account factors such as information architecture (how content is arranged and labeled across a product) and the features the user might require. They'll eventually produce wireframes, which are the product's bare-bones blueprints.

After the product's skeleton has been drawn out, the UI designer takes over to bring it to life. The UI designer takes into account all of the visual parts of the user's journey, including all of the different screens and touchpoints that the user may encounter; for example, touching a button, scrolling down a page, or swiping through an image gallery.

While the UX designer plots out the journey, the UI designer concentrates on the small details that make it possible. That isn't to suggest that UI design is solely about aesthetics; UI designers play a critical role in determining whether or not a product is accessible and inclusive. They'll ask things like, "How can different color combinations be used to increase contrast and improve readability?" or "What color pairings are best for color blind people?" More information on UI design for accessibility may be found here.

Hopefully, you can now see how UX and UI design are two completely separate things. To sum it up:

  • UI design is all about developing intuitive, aesthetically beautiful, interactive interfaces, while UX design is focused about recognizing and solving user problems.
  • The user experience (UX) is usually the initial step in the product development process, followed by the user interface (UI). The user journey is mapped out by the UX designer, who then fills it in with visual and interactive features by the UI designer.
  • UX can be applied to any product, service, or experience, whereas UI is only applicable to digital products and experiences.
How do UX Design and UI Design work together?
 
Now that we've looked at the distinctions between UX and UI, let's look at how they function together. You might be thinking which is more vital, but the truth is that they are both critical! Allow me to quote Helga Moreno, a designer and specialist who put it succinctly in her piece The Gap Between UX And UI Design:

“An example of great UI and terrible UX is something that appears fantastic but is difficult to use. While something incredibly usable but ugly is an example of good UX and bad UI.”

  As you can see, UX and UI are inextricably linked, and while there are countless examples of fantastic products that lack one or the other, consider how much more successful they could have been if they were strong in both.

The icing on the UX cake is UI design. Imagine you've come up with a brilliant app concept; something that's plainly lacking from the market and has the potential to transform people's lives. You engage a UX designer to do user research and assist you in determining which features your app should include and how the complete user journey should be laid out. Your software provides something that your target audience want, but when they download it, they discover that the text on each screen is hardly readable (think yellow text on a white background). Furthermore, the buttons are too close together; they keep accidentally pressing the wrong one! This is a classic case of bad UI destroying what would have been good UX.

Have you ever came across a stunning website only to discover that, aside from the mind-blowing animations and on-point color palette, it's a genuine hassle to use? It's like picking up a beautifully decorated dessert that tastes dreadful when you bite into it; good UI can't make up for bad UX.

As a result, when it comes to product design, UX and UI go hand in hand—and in today's competitive market, getting both aspects right is a requirement. It's beneficial to have a working knowledge of both UX and UI design, regardless of whether you want to work as a UX or UI designer; after all, you'll unavoidably be working together. This leads us to the following section...

3. Which career path is right for you: UX or UI Design? 

While UX and UI design are closely related, you don't need to be an expert in both. So, which Professional path, UX or UI, is best for you? 

It's crucial to analyze the key abilities required by UX vs. UI designers, as well as the normal day-to-day activities of each if you want to find out which career path is suitable for you. We've highlighted the most important hard, soft, and transferrable talents for both UX and UI designers in the infographic below. The primary tasks and responsibilities will be discussed in the following sections.

 What does a user experience designer do?

So now we know what the position of the UX designer comprises in abstract terms—but how does this transfer into day-to-day tasks? The typical activities and responsibilities of a UX designer are summarized here. This guide provides a more extensive description of the UX design process.

Content and Strategy:

  • Analyze your competitors
  • User research and customer analysis
  • Structure and strategy of the product
  • creation of content

Prototyping and Wireframing:

  • Wireframing
  • Prototyping
  • Iteration and testing
  • Planning for the future
 Analytics and Execution
  • Collaboration with the user interface designer (s)
  • Collaboration with the developer (s)
  • Goals tracking, integration analysis, and iteration

As a result, the UX role is sophisticated, tough, and multi-faceted. It is part marketer, part designer, and part project manager. In truth, the position of a user experience designer varies greatly based on the type of firm in which they work. You'll see that iteration of the product, as it relates to analysis or testing, is mentioned twice, but you'd put it in between the other items on the list. Finally, through a process of user and usability testing and refining, the goal is to tie corporate goals to user needs in a way that satisfies both sides of the interaction.

What does a user interface designer do?

You could be more interested in UI design if you like the notion of creating amazing user experiences but consider yourself to be a more visual person. A quick rundown of the UI designer's main responsibilities can be found below, or a more detailed explanation of what a UI designer performs can be found here.

The product's appearance and feel:

  • Customer research
  • Research on design
  • Designing logos and graphics
  • Storylines and user guides
Interactivity and responsiveness:
  • Prototyping user interfaces
  • Animation and interactivity
  • Adaptation to all screen sizes on all devices
  • Implementation in collaboration with the developer


The UI position, as a visual and interactive designer, is critical to any digital interface and, for customers, a significant component of brand trust. While the UI designer is never completely responsible for the brand, the translation of the brand into the product is.

You'll also notice the final point, which assigns responsibility for the design's "implementation" to a developer. While this is usually how UI professions have worked in the past, the lines are blurring as the phrase "web designer" (basically a UI designer who can code) is being supplanted by expertise of user interface designers. While UX does not require code, UI is a profession that will increasingly require it as part of the development of interactive interfaces. Here, we debate whether or not designers should learn to code.

Which is better paid, UX or UI?

Salaries are of course dictated by many factors, though primarily:

  • Location
  • Experience
  • Industry
  • Project/product type

UI and UX positions have similar income ranges across startups and minor tech businesses, on average. However, outside of the online and mobile industries (e.g., automotive firms, medical equipment makers, etc. ), UI designers will find more and richer prospects, as the field is not only more established but also has a more direct, business-driven application.

Using averages, however, it is possible to identify both user experience and user interface jobs in central Europe across the following value range.

Annual:

  • Junior Level Salary €28k – €33k
  • Mid Level Salary €38k – €45k
  • Senior Level Salary €50k – €80k

Hourly:

  • Junior Freelancer €30 – €50
  • Mid Level Freelancer €50 – €75
  • Senior Level Consultant €75 – €100

 Check out these breakdowns of your earning potential as a UX designer and as a UI designer to learn more about pay in your area, and I also recommend looking at self-reported earnings on Glassdoor.

Why do companies often advertise UX/UI roles as one?

Now that we've established that UX and UI design are two distinct areas, you might be asking why so many job postings call for both UX and UI designers. 

In the grand scheme of things, UX and UI are still relatively new fields—and, as previously said, they tend to be industry-specific. They're not well-known outside of the design and IT industries, despite the fact that they're critical to business. While the financial value of good design is becoming more widely recognized, hiring managers and recruiters still have a propensity to assume that UX and UI are done by the same person—hence the catch-all job advertising you've probably seen.

But it isn't usually a simple instance of miscommunication. Many firms will seek out flexible designers that can handle both UX and UI, or who at the very least grasp UX or UI principles in addition to their primary talent.

So, how do you figure out what's going on? Whether you're looking for a UI-only position, a strictly UX-focused profession, or a combination of the two, it's critical to go past the job title and focus on the skills, tasks, and responsibilities specified. Now that you understand the differences between UX and UI, you should be able to tell whether a job ad is aimed at one or the other, or if it is intentionally targeting both.

How do you decide which is a better fit: UX or UI?

If you want to work in design but aren't sure whether to focus on UX or UI, think about where your interests lie and what you're naturally excellent at. UX and UI design are both highly collaborative, diverse career options that put you at the forefront of technology and innovation. However, there are some important distinctions between the nature of the task and the talents necessary.

Why don't you check out this quick flowchart to see which path is the best suit for you?

A career in user experience necessitates empathy, problem-solving skills, and a creative and analytical mindset. UX designers must also have excellent communication skills and a working knowledge of business.

A career in user interface design necessitates an understanding of user experience principles, but it is much more focused on the visual, interactive aspects of design. If you have a keen sense of aesthetics and enjoy the idea of making technology beautiful, user-friendly, and accessible, you might be better suited to a career in user interface design. Of course, if you're interested in a career that combines both, there's nothing stopping you from becoming a design all-rounder!

How do you develop your UX and UI Design skills?

While there are college schools that provide interactive design and visual design degrees, there are relatively few formal options to study UI or UX Design abilities as applicable to working inside tech startups or even bigger corporations.

If you reside in a big metropolitan region, you may be fortunate to have access to a number of bootcamp or class-style programs, such as General Assembly, or specialized programs sponsored by Google and other IT behemoths.

You'll discover a limitless amount of free information and training for both talents online and with flexibility. I strongly advise reviewing the outline and content of each course to ensure that what is being taught corresponds to the definitions outlined in this article; however, if structured correctly, the options available on platforms such as Udacity and Udemy can serve as a good introduction to the field.

If you want to study UX or UI design skills to make a career shift, especially if you have little to no industry experience, you may always start with the many free UX/UI design trainings available.

For those of you who are just starting to think about your choices, we've put up a thorough reference to the top UX bootcamps here, along with tips on things to consider when selecting a school. You may also discover a wealth of additional information and guidance on YouTube.

4. What motivated me to create this article?

I'd want to briefly explain the motives for this article. To begin, there appears to be an obvious need for additional publications of this sort, as few professionals care to openly clarify the distinctions between UX and UI design. As I've often stated, the fields are muddled and unnecessarily so. My goal is that this essay will help you, whether you are a novice or an expert, and that you will share it with others who are as perplexed as the hiring managers who write the job postings.

Second, if you are interested in learning any or both of these fields, I hope I have clarified their definitions sufficiently for you to better determine which to begin with, or which may be more appealing to you as a potential vocation intrinsically.

Finally, I believe it is critical to spark dialogue. I'm hoping that some of you wonderful readers disagree with me and will express your displeasure openly by contacting us or writing a response. If our sector is perplexed, it is our responsibility to clear it up, and the more enthusiastic professionals who step up and contribute to the definition, the better.