Designers, especially in today’s world, are always re-evaluating the importance of UX over UI or vice versa. UX, short for User Experience is the overall takeaway from the experience that the individual has had from interacting with the product or service. UI, short for User Interface, is the means of interaction with the product or service such as the keypad, mouse, touchscreen and more recently voice, light and motion.
In more relatable terms, UI may be compared to the physical, tangible aspects of a built structure such as walls, doors and material finishes whereas UX is the intangible experience one has by moving from one space to the next. As architects, we strive to improvise the intangible experience through the means of the tangible spaces and finishes. The same logic extends to the designing of a product or service, thus UI and UX are mutually dependent.
What is UI?
UI (User Interface) is the process of converting back-end data into a user-friendly graphical interface that connects with the user. A sequence of interfaces creates a journey for the user weaving through the nuances of the service or product. In any product or service, many UI come together and ultimately lead to an enhanced UX (User Experience).
The role of a UI Designer
The initial process of designing for a service or product involves research into the needs and expectations of the user which falls under UX(User Experience). The main aim of a UI Designer will be to address these findings and reflect them as a visual masterpiece that is user-friendly across all screen sizes.
Several aspects need to be taken into account in the process of designing such as:
- Design Research – The research was conducted to understand the ongoing trends, competitors and user psychology.
- Visual Design -This includes the layout of the product or service such as the font, color scheme, icons etc.
- Branding -It falls under the UI designer’s preview to create a strong brand identity through their interface in accordance with the client’s requirement.
- Design Systems -To maintain a standard design procedure, designers maintain style guides and pattern libraries.
- Responsive design features -the interface has to reflect the user’s needs and accurately analyze how to establish a deeper connection.
- Animation -Interactive animation and transitions are useful in keeping the user engaged.
- Prototype -An integral tool for a successful UI design, a UI prototype tracks real-time interaction of the interface with the user and helps in understanding its efficiency.
What is UX?
Understanding the overall needs and expectations of the user and converting them into a product or a service is the main objective of UX. Its an end-to-end experience of the user concerning the product/service. It looks to simplify any given process to make it as frictionless as possible.
The user experience as such may not be limited to a device or a website per se but may also encompass all aspects of the user’s life it impacts. The objective of a UX designer should be to take forth a tangible connection of the user with the product (UI) and extend that to an intangible connection that overlaps with other experiences of the user. This may also include how the purchase of the service/ product happens, its relevance in the user’s social life or the extent of time the user spends with it.
The role of a UX Designer
Identifying arbitrary existing problems, understanding how they can be resolved and creating a structured approach through the intervention of UI come under the preview of a UX designer. Understanding the customer journey is probably the most important role of a UX designer. This includes conducting extensive research on the target audience, interviewing users and conducting test runs amongst a few. A strategic plan is essential and must address the following:
- User research -data collection and problem solving for the target audience
- Information architecture -systematic and user-friendly layout for easy accessibility and understanding for the user
- Creating user flow -speaking to the target audience to understand their needs to create patterns that seamlessly flow from one interface to the next
- Wireframe -creating a skeletal structure for the interface to understand the functionality
- Testing -testing the prototype with real-time users to understand its flaws and strengths
- Analysis -Analyzing the obtained results from testing to provide a better experience
Difference between UX and UI Design
The basic difference between UX and UI maybe concluded UI refers to the visual elements of a product or a service that the user interacts with and UX is the experience the user has while doing so. UI focuses on aesthetic appeal through fonts and colors whereas UX is all about the journey the user has with the product. The UX is ultimately dependent on the UI for a visually aesthetic outcome whereas the UI is dependent on the UX to outline the entirety of the product or service.
Ultimately it can safely be concluded that both UI and UX are mutually inter-dependent and are essential tools in designing a product or service that meets the needs of the user.