UX vs UI: What’s the difference?

refresh iconUpdated 12 Jan 2023
clock icon12 min
eye icon298718 Views
what is the difference between ui and ux design
what is the difference between ui and ux design

As an entrepreneur or startup founder, you may have heard of UX & UI design, but you might not be clear on the differences between them. In this article, we'll explain:

  • What is UX design
  • UI design specifics
  • Why it's worth to distinguish these terms, and how you can use this knowledge to make your business grow
  • What is the skill set and main responsibilities of UI and UX designer so that you can hire the best talent for your project
  • Etc.
  • Let`s go!

    What is UX design?

    First, we should get a grasp of general definitions. So what is UX design? UX means “user experience”. In simple terms, User Experience design is the process of creating an intuitive interaction between the user and digital product. It ensures that the app runs smoothly — from the way it looks to the way it responds to user actions.

    what is UX design

    The ultimate goal of UX design is to get a deep understanding of the user's needs, problems, behavior, and expectations. Moreover, it’s aimed at providing the simplest solution to help users get what they want. That’s why the UX design process includes a lot of investigations and analytical work: conducting user research, outlining user personas characteristics, developing wireframes and prototypes, usability testing, and so on. Based on this, you can get not only a visually appealing app but one that is accessible and user-friendly.

    What is UI design?

    UI design, which stands for user interface design, is about building an interface that is easy to perceive and navigate. The process of UI design covers the creation of all the visual elements that you can see on your screen: from the color palette and typography to buttons, icons, menus, layouts, etc.

    UI design is focused on making your app visually catchy on any type of screen resolution preserving effortless and effective user interaction.

    Key differences between UX and UI design

    UX design
  • can be used to create a human-centric experience for any kind of products or services
  • ensures a positive overall experience for the user
  • the main focus: effectiveness of the app
  • UI design
  • can be applied to digital products only
  • is aimed at the creation of visual elements that help the user navigate and use the app
  • the main focus: visual aesthetics
  • If you have enough time to build separate apps and want to take into account all the peculiarities of both platforms, then native app development would be an excellent choice for you. Now, let's explore some other advantages of native apps that can convince you to choose this approach for your project.

    Why is UX & UI design important?

    why are ux and ui design important

    01. Increased user satisfaction: as we have mentioned above, UX & UI design starts with a thorough investigation of the user’s needs (even hidden). That’s why software with good UX/UI design is more likely to meet customers’ expectations, making users more loyal and even encouraging them to recommend your product to others.

    02. Better conversion rate: with high-level usability and attractive visual style, your product has much more chances to convert visitors into customers. For example, if you have an e-commerce platform with a beautiful interface, seamless interaction and an easy checkout process, there is a 70% probability that the user will make a purchase.

    03. Brand awareness: special visual style and catchy interface elements — these are the cornerstones of your outstanding and recognizable brand identity!

    04. Competitive advantage: after attracting the user to your app/website, you have only one chance to impress him and help him get what he wants. Otherwise, he’ll go to your competitors. Well-designed UI & UX is what makes the user stay and choose your brand from others on the market.

    05. Cost-effectiveness: a responsible and professional approach to UX & UI design can help you identify and address your software issues in the early design phase. This prevents you from additional time and money expenditures needed for making changes in functionality in the long run.

    How do UX design and UI design work together?

    man showing how ui and ux design work together

    What is better: the app that looks good but is difficult to use? Or the app with well-developed functionality but with an ugly and confusing design? The answer is neither of them. That’s why UX and UI designing processes always proceed in tandem. Here’s what the average UX & UI design process looks like:

    1. Research

    Analysis of target audience specifics, competitors, market trends etc. The insights of this investigation are a profound basis for both good user experience and user interface.

    2. Wireframing

    It’s a process of UX design needed to build the best possible product structure and define the most convenient sequence of user actions. For UI designers, wireframe shows the right direction for creating a visual style of the interface.

    3. Prototyping

    Prototypes are needed to test and improve the app’s usability. The creation of prototypes is the UX designer's area of responsibility. The main goal of UI designers is to keep consistency with these UX prototypes to build a user interface that looks great and functions smoothly.

    4. Final product

    This is a phase where both UX & UI designers work very intensively. UX    designers do their best to create a design that meets the user's needs, while UI designers take care of visual aesthetics.

    5. Improvements

    After getting feedback from the first users, UX and UI designers work on design improvements to meet the user’s expectations to the fullest.

    Now that you know what to expect from the UX and UI designing process, it’s time to find qualified experts that can help you apply this process to your project. We’ve created a list of skills that are a must for UI/UX designers. Keep in mind: the best designer is the one that has not only profound technical skills but soft skills as well!

    UX vs UI designer Skills and Requirements

    When hiring UX or UI designer for your project, focus on the following skills:

    UX designerUI designer
  • Ability to apply a human-centered design approach
  • Strong analytical skills (including business analysis)
  • Solid grasp the of user’s psychology and behavior
  • Understanding of information architecture
  • Experience with Sketch, Adobe XD, Figma, or InVision
  • Great communication skills
  • Knowledge of agile project management methodologies
  • Understanding of front-end technologies (like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) will be beneficial
  • Knowledge of typography, color theory, layout, interaction design principles, etc.
  • Responsive design
  • Ability to create design systems, design patterns etc.
  • Experience with Sketch, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Figma, or InVision.
  • Great communication skills
  • Knowledge of agile project management methodologies
  • Ability to work within brand guidelines
  • UX vs UI designer Tasks and Responsibilities

    As we mentioned previously, UX and UI designers work is deeply interrelated, still, their roles differ. So when you're looking for designers for your project, you can't offer them the same list of tasks. The list below may come in handy to describe the positions you’re looking for:

    UX designer responsibilitiesUI designer responsibilities
  • User research (conducting surveys, interviews, usability testing, etc.)
  • Definition and description of user personas
  • Building of the information architecture
  • Developing user flows, site maps, and wireframes
  • Usability testing
  • Collaborating with developers to ensure that the design is implemented properly and that the user experience is consistent across different platforms and devices
  • Design of visual elements (color schemes, typography, graphics, etc.)
  • Building of design systems
  • Style guides creation
  • Interactive elements creation (buttons, menus, and other elements that users will interact with)
  • Building high-fidelity prototypes that demonstrate how the final design will look and function
  • Collaborating with developers to ensure that the design is implemented properly and everything looks good on different devices and platforms
  • By the way, very often these tasks can be performed by one person — UI & UX designer. He combines visual aesthetics, user experience design, and user research to create digital products that are both eye-catchy and easy to use. What is better: to hire two experts or one that can cover two roles — it’s up to you!

    Bonus. The impact of CX on UX/UI designs and customer engagement

    The main goal of this article is to help you get a digital product with the best possible design, that’s why cannot omit another important aspect — customer experience (CX). This concept has a lot in common with the user experience; however, they have different focuses.

    UX refers to the overall experience that a user has while interacting with a product (its usability, functionality, accessibility, visual style, etc.). CX is a broader term, and it’s all about the experience that a customer has with a particular company or brand. It includes all interaction points a customer has with a company, from initial awareness to desire to make a purchase (and even communication after making the purchase). The process of creating this experience is called CX design.

    A good CX design can create a positive perception of a brand and increase customer loyalty. However, without a well-designed UX, you have no chance to build a positive customer experience.

    ui, ux and cx designs

    Let’s look at how CX and UX/UI designs affect each other:

    01. CX design is all about listening to customer feedback and refining the product based on it. This is also crucial for good UI/UX design as regular testing, feedback analysis, and iterations will result in better design, and increased customer engagement and satisfaction.

    02. The aim of CX design is to create an emotional connection between the customer and the brand. A well-designed UX/UI can enhance this connection by providing a delightful experience.

    03. Consistency is a must for CX design because it creates a sense of trust and brand reliability. You should preserve this consistency in UI & UX design as well to build a strong emotional connection between the brand and your customer.

    You should sync up your CX and UX design to build a smooth and positive experience for your customer. How can you do this? Build your brand with a user-centric approach — starting from the way you treat your customers and to small visual elements your customers adore! Sure thing, you should spend some time on deeper research of your target audience but the game is worth the candle.

    Bonus. Is research a key for UX/UI design success?

    User-centric designs that meet the user's needs, preferences, and expectations are impossible without deep investigations and analysis. But what should you analyze first? How to structure the deliverables of your research?

    woman showing ui ux design research processui ux design research

    If you don’t want to turn your research into a total mess, you should move step-by-step. Usually, we use the following scheme:

    01. User research — you can conduct it in different ways:

  • Interviews with users (to gain more info about their behavior, attitudes, and needs)
  • Surveys (it’s more about gathering of useful statistics)
  • Usability testing (how the user interacts with your product, does he like this experience, etc.)
  • Focus groups (gathering a group of users to discuss their experiences, preferences, and needs related to your product)
  • 02. Competitor research — who are your potential competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How can you improve your product to outpace your competitors?

    03. Market research — analyze current market conditions and industry trends to create successful long-term strategies or quickly adapt to the latest tendencies

    04. Analytics research (after launching your app, don’t forget to systematically gather usage data to gain insights into user behavior and identify areas for improvement).

    Wrapping up

    To sum up, UX design is about creating a generally positive experience for the user, at the same time, UI design is concentrated on the visual aspect of your software. Both are important for developing a successful digital product and only their effective combination can help you get an excellent and effective design! 

    Our team of skilled UI/UX designers has a profound experience in different industries, so if you’re looking for reliable experts for your project, we’re all set to help you.

    What is mobile app?
    plus icon
    Online or offline mobile application or mobile app is a software that has been developed for mobile devices such as a smartphone or tablet. This is one of the areas of expertise of our team (there are other areas that we work in: Web App, SaaS Systems, CRM, ERP etc.) For such projects, we develop both the mobile app design and the necessary software code. We develop mobile applications for both IOS and Android, as well as hybrid apps.
    Is it the same as tablet app?
    plus icon
    Smartphone apps and tablet apps are both mobile apps, but there are some key differences that necessitate considering a different approach for tablet apps. First and foremost, tablets have a much larger screen size, which means a different design layout. Additionally, your app may require more features or functionality to fully utilize the available screen space. Another difference is how users interact with the device, as tablet apps need to support a wider range of user inputs, such as stylus pens or attachable keyboards. Finally, tablets usually offer higher performance compared to smartphones, which broadens the list of design and functionality features that can be offered to the user. If you have a need for a tablet app version of mobile app designing, you need to think about it in advance, so we can discuss the development details and set a separate budget for its implementation.
    Do you make apps for both iOS and Android platforms?
    plus icon
    Yes. Our development and design team specializes in both of these major platforms. In most scenarios, we develop mobile applications for both iOS and Android simultaneously. In some cases, either due to the specifics of the target audience or budget constraints, an app can be developed only for a specific platform. We can do an additional consultation to help you make the right platform choice.
    Can I order a hybrid app?
    plus icon
    Yes, we are also developing mobile apps as a hybrid modification. Due to the specifics of such apps, you need to consider all the additional nuances and make the right decision. If you need additional advice on this type of web application, we will be happy to answer all your questions.
    Will your company market my app?
    plus icon
    Yes, this is one of the workflow stages of development of mobile apps. Our team works with all modern platforms, so we can help you pass all stages of verification and publish your mobile application at an online marketplace, such as App Store or Google Play.

    Have a project in mind?