UX/UI Design – what are these, how are they different and what does connect them?
When computers began to bite into each and every aspect of our lives some of the artists, drawers, “analog” designers and such became (digital) graphic designers and things remained quite simple for a while.
Graphic designers were professionals who could create any graphic element, picture or undefined entirety they imagined or their clients ordered.
Today it isn’t that simple.
Let’s start with the broad sphere of UX Design, which covers creating general design of products (in this case digital products) with focus on the overall experience related to the use of a given product or service.
That’s what UX Design stands for – User Experience Design. It seems kind of self-explanatory, although it’s always worth resolving any doubts, therefore I will expand on this term.
UX Design covers creating a specific online environment at your website in order to evoke a certain, particularly demanded set of emotions, thoughts, attitudes and meaningful aspects of relation between a user and a digital product.
From my point of view it’s the simplest most difficult job ever. All I need to do is make users feel good, happy and comfortable, while visiting your website.
So how do I do that?
My role as a UX Designer is examining the needs of users, finding potential issues they may have to deal with and designing their future experiences in accordance with all these findings.
Imagine that you want to read an article about bees behaviour (or really just anything). You heard something about it and you just feel the urge to read more about it right now. So you google it or maybe someone recommended this website about bees. You just want to read an article. Perhaps you want to skip some boring parts or you just want to find this one particular piece of information.
You go in and you see this pop-up (flashy, big font):
“Do you want to have your own bee-garden? Join our monthly plan and start for just… blah blah.”
You close this window and start reading. After each paragraph there is a big gap filled with ads or contet, which would be interesting to you only if hell froze. You finish the 1st page and you click on the piece of User Interface, which should bring you to the 2nd page.
But in order to get there you need to create an account and you can’t use your Facebook or Google accounts. I guess you see where I am going. On this website you can’t fulfill your need of knowledge about bees behaviour without encountering many annoying obstacles.
My job as UX Design expert is making your User Experience obstacles free (it doesn’t mean ads free).
I want visitors of your website to have the best possible memories of using your online service. I want them to want to go back. Your website is going to be their no. 1 place, which they visit as well as think about, while having some particular needs.
That’s what UX Design is all about. Discovering the user’s needs and the way they want these needs to be met. It’s about looking for the issues, looking for solutions and implementing them.
Crucial stage of working on UX Design is creating a mockup.
Call me old fashioned but as soon as I acquire all the necessary information about your website and expectations I really do start designing with pen and paper (maybe some crayons…). This is the first step I take, while creating a UX mockup.
Then, when I already have a UX mockup I take the next step and prepare a prototype. What it is exactly? Prototype as the name suggests is a clickable prototype of the website.
It’s a live example of how your web page should look if I implement all the necessary things and changes. At this point all advancements are rather easy to be carried out, without generating lots of additional costs.
UX prototype allows me to see how the chosen paths for users actually works. Some role playing takes place here, because I test my creation from the perspective of the client and users.
But what about UI Design?
Don’t you worry. I didn’t forget about it. UI Design is a vital part of the entire User Experience.
It doesn’t mean one always must work on both of them at the same time, as a part of the same job. No. You can design UX, without actually touching User Interface and you may work on UI Design for already created User Experience.
It means that both of these spheres of graphic design are connected and it’s impossible to professionally think about one without at least nudging the other.
As you may imagine UI Design deals with interfaces, which I perceive as means of connection, communication between a user and a product. We often think about User Interface in terms of software, yet interfaces are everywhere.
Buttons on the remote are pieces of the interface we use to control the TV. Knobs of the washing machine are parts of the interface and so are all the elements of the car dashboard, radio, AC panel.
UI Design combines the purely visual side (making nice buttons) and functionality. Although it may seem as a pretty simple, straight forward job, it’s actually rather complex. Obviously it’s a much less wide type of design than UX Design, yet not an easier one.
When it comes to designing interfaces, it’s not just about making flashy graphics or mind blowing animations. When I work on UI Design I need to make graphic elements which are both aesthetic and useful. I am responsible for making an interface which is perfectly balanced – as all the things should be.
Users need to naturally understand what’s the meaning of a particular piece of graphics. Actually, this notion extends beyond UI Design. It most definitely works for the broad sphere of UX Design as well and it’s the perfect way to sum up my work philosophy.
Regardless of whether I work on UX Design or UI Design – if users need to think about how to navigate around your product I failed. Hopefully, most of my clients’ website users may turn off thinking, while visiting websites I design.
I truly believe I make them feel at home.