If you feel sorry about yourself for not knowing the difference between UI [User Interface] and UX [User Experience], well, don’t be, as this is one of the most frequently asked questions and the most confused concepts in the field of mobile app development. Even the best UI/UX designers sometime find it difficult provide a clear definition.
Though both terms sound somewhat similar – and UI/UX experts work closely with each other – their underlying concept is different. In a broad spectrum UI and UX designing are two different disciplines with a common goal.
UI and UX are two of the most confused terms in the modern technology lexicon. There are several analogies to differentiate them, but unfortunately most of these analogies add an additional knot to the confusion than untangling it.
I’m not going to provide analogies here. I’ll just simplify it.
First let us focus on User Experience [UX], and see what is it and how it is applied.
UX [User Experience] Design
The concept of ‘User Experience’ existed much before Donald Norman coined the term. When Norman joined Apple his designation read as ‘User Experience Architect’. Perhaps he was the first to use the term in his CV, and he is widely accepted to have coined the term ‘User Experience’. Over years, the term slowly gained traction and today UX Designing is widely used in Mobile app development industry than any other.
In general, Use Experience is pretty self explanatory, it means ‘designing systems that addresses user’s experience’. Now, you would’ve got a basic understanding for what user experience is. But, when it comes mobile app development, it get slightly complicated. Don’t get disheartened. You are not the only one. Unlike an UI designer, the role of UX designer is multi-faceted, and due to this nature even the top UX experts find it hard to lay out a definite meaning to it.
However, the below example will help you understand better.
Let’s say a mobile app development company is building an app for a sports brand, which sells fitness products. Now, before the app is being developed, a good User Experience designer will perform these actions.
1. Carry out research on sports and fitness products through conversations, expert interviews, and surveys
2. Create a gender analytics on what each gender expect from fitness products
3. What the end-users are generally looking for in a fitness products apps
4. Analyze which kind of architecture will best suit the target audience
5. Most importantly, closely study end-user behavior in respect to online fitness products
Using the above information, the UX designer will design an architectural sketch of how the app will flow, to effectively address all the pain points of the end-users, and overall provide an engaging and productive user experience. Then this plan is set in motion by creating prototype, and then the prototype is tested and validated.
So that is User Experience designing. Now, you would have pretty much guessed what an UI Designer’s part in this fitness products app would be, haven’t you?
Yes? No? Doesn’t matter. We’ll tell you.
With the User Experience aspects ready, prototype created, tested, and everything in place, now is the time to give that visual appeal to the app – colors, layouts, designs and the overall look of the product. This is where an UI designer comes into the picture.
UI [User Interface] Design
Now, let’s focus on UI design, see what it is, and how it is applied.
If the objective of UX designer is to create ‘human-centric design’, the objective of UI designer is to create ‘Visual design’. You see the difference?
A good UI designer would perform the following action for the fitness app:
* Carry out a thorough research on the design principles of sports and fitness apps
* Do creative and convergent thinking
* Establish and reiterate branding
* Give right clues to users through right colors and designs for effortless navigation
* Give an intuitive and engaging look and feel to the app
* Above all, give a personality to the app through designs
Now, let’s put it in a nutshell: User Experience is how things work in an app, and User Interface is how things look in an app. They both have a common goal – to draw end-users to the app, keep them there, and provide exactly what they want.
Image source: Papdan
4 differences between UI and UX designing
1. UX to define goal, UI to establish emotional connection
Though UI and UX experts works closely, their work protocol is clearly defined. While the UX designers focus on helping users to achieve their goal, UI designers focus on establishing emotional connections.
2. UX is done first, UI second
Since UX involves research, creating personas, user stories, doing competitive analysis etc., the UX designs are done first under general circumstances. Once the user flow, wireframes or prototypes are tested and validated, then User Interface designing begins.
3. UX is multi-faceted, UI is single-faceted
As mentioned earlier, the process of UX designing meanders through various functionalities ares like, products, users interfaces and services. On the other hand, UI designing mostly stays within the purview of ‘interfaces’.
4. UX makes a product useful, UI makes it beautiful
The main aim of this article is to enlighten about the UI/UX confusion. It is surprising to see that still many employers aren’t sure about what to expect from UI and UX experts, giving rise to the popular misconception is the role-reversal between these two designers is a norm. That is not the case. However, the upshot is that the functionalities of UI and UX is so intricately intertwined that it is almost impossible to extract one from the other from the final product.
Ideaplunge is one of the leading UI/UX designing companies in Bangalore, helping our clients establish human-centric experiences through visceral design frameworks. We work as a co-creation partner for Startups and Fortune 500 companies, engaging with them on various levels right from nurturing ideas, designing, creating prototypes to the final finished product.
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