UX and UI are two terms frequently mentioned within the web design world, but few actually understand what they mean. Although they overlap and work in collaboration, they are often mistakenly considered the same thing. However, they are two very distinct disciplines, representing two very different stages of the design process.

But what do these terms actually mean?

What is UX design?

User Experience Design (UX) is a term first used by cognitive scientist Don Norman, when he worked for Apple back in the 1990's. It describes "all aspects of the end-user's interaction with a company, service or product". As Nathan Shedroff, Professor of Sustainable Design at California College of the Arts add, "user experience design is an approach to creating successful experiences for people in any medium". The primary goal of UX design is to create enjoyable and easy to use websites. This encourages adoption, retention and fosters brand loyalty.UX designers are responsible for producing wireframes and prototypes to continuously refine and simplify the experience. They pay close attention to functionality, layout and structure.

What is UI design

User Interface Design (UI) refers to how a websites looks and feels. It covers typography, colour, imagery, icons and buttons. Nowadays, users have grown to expect good UI. Good UI not only draws in users, it also keeps them engaged for longer. It can help build customer loyalty and brand recognition. UI designers are responsible for making websites look appealing, ensuring they are responsive and accessible to all. They need to have strong typography, layout and visual design skills. They also need empathy, to be able to connect with users emotions.

Working in collaboration

It's no good having a website that looks beautiful on the surface but doesn't meet the users needs. It's therefore paramount that both UX and UI designers work closely together.

At the beginning of a project, a UX designer will conduct user research to get a broader understanding of their target audience. This research is used to create user personas, to define user flows and to be referenced throughout the project. Because this initial stage is largely research based, collaboration between both teams is minimal.

It is only after multiple iterations of wireframes and prototypes do both teams come together. Referencing the low fidelity prototye, the UI designer will create a high fidelity prototype, adding typography colour and imagery. This will showcase how the website will look and interact.

Once agreed, these designs are then handed over to the developer who will begin the build.

Key takeaways

Although both UX and UI share the same goal; to create websites that are easy to use and meet the users needs. They should never be mistaken for meaning the same thing. Both focus on different aspects of the design process. Tho, both teams work closely together, UX designers pay attention to the overall experience, whilst UI designers concentrate on making the website visually appealing