Difference Between UI and UX design

Your website or app users never think about the database of your product or its technical components. They always deal with the user experience and user interface design of your product. Whether users will like your product depends on the UI and UX design. That is why UI and UX design is what worth investing money and time in. In this article, we want to shed light on such aspects as what UI and UX designs are, what is the difference between them, and how they influence your product.

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What is UI design

User interface design is the visual embodiment of UX design. The main UI design purpose is to make an application, website, or other software product design intuitive, attractive, and simple to use with the help of certain graphic solutions.

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The history of UI design started 50 years ago. The first computers didn’t have any visual elements users could interact with. When someone wanted to do something on a computer, they had to use a special line to type some commands. However, during the 1980s, the first Graphical User Interface (GUI) was developed. Thanks to such innovation, users could cooperate with their personal computers through different menus buttons and icons. Today, almost anyone can use a computer, with no coding skills or knowledge.

The story behind UI design development is fascinating. In 1973, Xerox Star company introduced the first Xerox Alto Graphical User Interface (GUI). This interface offered simple mouse editing in the style of WYSIWYG (“What you see is what you get”). The creation of this user interface was a real breakthrough. It became much easier to understand the processes on a computer and print exactly what people saw in front of them on a screen. A simplified version of the e-mail was invented and could connect people like never before. At that time, Xerox did not realize what a great design revolution they had made. They concluded an agreement by which Apple’s Steve Jobs bought Xerox GUI prototype technology for $1 million. Since Steve Jobs saw the great importance of this interface, he began to develop it and subsequently, in 1984, released a Macintosh personal computer with a simple graphic user interface, that became a real breakthrough in technology.

Now, when we understand what UI means and how it was created, we can proceed to the fundamental principles that allow us to create a great UI for your product.

Lots of designers tried to formulate the basic principles of designing really great user interface. Here are some of them:

#1 Visual clarity

This principle means that everything that happens on a screen should be clear to your users despite the device they use. Visual clarity is a must if you want them to enjoy using your product, quickly perform all the necessary actions, and find the right information. When content is placed in the right way, users don’t face any obstacles and easily achieve the desired action.

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To achieve visual clarity while creating UI for your product, use a minimum of information on screens to avoid cluttering. You should present the information and visual elements so that they reflect the importance of your information and are united by size, scale, and color.

You can also follow Gestalt laws to create visually clear interfaces. According to these laws, human mind ceases to use logic when it comes to visual perception. People don’t make decisions on their own. Their actions are influenced by prejudices, external circumstances, and other factors. This means that knowing how users respond to visual incentives can be extremely helpful. Gestalt psychology not only makes the visual messages more effective but also gives designers a chance to be creative.

#2 UI consistency

Visual consistency means that all the elements on a screen are perceived integrally, equally, and as a result, are aligned in a visual sequence. The same style unites all buttons, labels, badges, fonts, icons, and colors. This approach to creating UI design will make your product look holistic.

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Consistency with user expectations is one of the key factors that determine whether your product will satisfy user expectations or not. People have certain ideas and expectations with an app or website they use. That’s why creating a product that contradicts these expectations means to fail. To achieve a pleasant consistency with user expectations, we offer you the following tips:

  • Use existing templates. Users don’t have problems with templates they are already accustomed to using.
  • Don’t invent new terminology. New and abstruse words are more likely to confuse visitors than interest them, so it’s better not to reinvent the wheel as there are many existing terms in the interface that are familiar to them.
  • Coordinate design with the platform. Your product must meet the standards of your chosen platform. Users can easily understand your design and easily use it if it complies with the platform’s common rules and principles.

#3 Aesthetic and minimalist design

This principle teaches us that content should be logically grouped to increase the effectiveness of the information that is conveyed to a user. Thus, the text, visual elements, and animation shouldn’t distract a user from a necessary action, but instead, effectively assist it. That is why minimalist design is considered to be the best aesthetic solution and one of the main UI design principles nowadays. Here are the benefits of minimalistic design for your product:

  • Minimum distractions. A limited number of visual elements allow users to focus on their goals.
  • Minimal loading time. Large images, sophisticated animation, and an abundance of visual elements make your product heavy and slow it down.
  • Better conversion. Users aren’t distracted with bright blinking elements and can focus on CTAs.
  • Improved customer engagement. Simple forms and clear elements allow you to communicate your business values to users better.

Despite all the advantages minimalistic design brings, a lot of clients are afraid of using it because of a common misconception that minimalism is boring. Here, at Gapsy studio, our designers prove that minimalist can look even more attractive and spectacular than screamy colors and crazy animation.

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Now, let’s take a look at the main responsibilities of a UI designer.

The main task of a UI designer is to help a user quickly understand how to use your product. UI designer has to make sure a user likes your product at first sight and wants to visit it more and more. The main task of a UI designer is to make an interface simple and intuitive. Here’s a list of UI designer responsibilities:

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  • Analysis of a target audience. A UI designer needs to know the target audience for whom the product is being created. What motivates users to perform actions on a site or an app? What are their expectations from your product? It is much easier for a designer to create visual elements when they understand who the target audience is.
  • Design research. Although research is mostly a UX designer’s job, a user interface designer should also know this information and work with it, taking into account all tastes and preferences of future clients.
  • Branding and graphic design development. A UI designer’s task is not only to cooperate closely with UX designers but also to understand your needs accurately. A UI designer has to know exactly what message you want to communicate with your brand, transfer it to users, and create graphic elements that will be aesthetically attractive and suitable for the brand and style of the product.
  • Guidelines creation. UI Guide is a set of rules or guidelines for shaping the appearance of a product. This document is also called UI-kit, brand beech, or specification. It is an instruction that maintains the appearance of all company products (website, application, catalogs, booklets, business cards, booths at exhibitions, etc.) The guidelines contain all information about the logo, fonts, colors, and other characteristics of all elements. This document helps teams of designers and developers to adhere to the common style when they create a project.
  • UI prototyping. UI design prototyping is used to test hypotheses and user scenarios. A prototype also allows you to get feedback from users at an early stage of product development. Thanks to a prototype, you can immediately see how convenient your design is and improve it if needed.
  • Interactivity and animation development. Creating an interactive design is a process of a combination of content, graphics, visual, sound effects, and programming. Each detail is taken into account: location of elements, spaces between them, visual objects, and animations. And all this to create an intuitive user interface.
  • Adaptation of different screen sizes. Since a product is going to be displayed on different screens, a UI designer should take care of the adaptive design. All buttons, icons, badges, etc., as well as colors and a headset, should look identical on all screens that users can interact with.

What is UX design

UX design is created to ensure that a product is logical, convenient, and useful. The main goal of UX design is to make sure that a website or an app evokes only pleasant impressions.

Where is it better to place a login form to a personal account? How many steps should users take to sign up for a newsletter or place their order? How can they understand that the operation was successful? These are the issues that UX design solves.

To understand the purpose of user experience design, we need to look at its history.

UX design got its name in 1995 from Donald Norman ‒ a professor and scientist, who joined Apple in the early 90s as their User Experience Architect. Donald Norman was the first person to had the UX term in his job title. It was Donald who offered the term “user experience design.” He mentioned: “I invented this term because I thought human interface and usability were too narrow: I wanted to cover all aspects of the person’s experience with a system, including industrial design, graphics, the interface, the physical interaction, and the manual.”

UX design also has certain principles one can follow to get the best results when creating UX design.

#1 Full user control and freedom

Thanks to this principle, users have complete freedom and control on a website or in a mobile app. It often happens that users perform some actions by mistake. Users should always have a so-called emergency exit to go back or cancel an action. You have to provide complete freedom of choice and flexibility to your user so that they can easily handle any of their undesirable action. Make your product’s actions reversible, so that users always have an opportunity to return to a previous screen. If users understand that they can quickly cancel a previous action, it gives them a sense of confidence and leads to a quick process of researching your app or website and moving forward.

#2 Smooth navigation

A good UX design brings its users into a comfort zone where they never wonder what a button means and where it can lead them. Navigation should be obvious, seamless, and clear if you don’t want to face usability problems. Smooth navigation should provide:

  1. Visual cues. Such cues serve as reminders; they guide users and help them easily navigate your product interface. Cues act as signals that attract users’ attention. These can be graphic symbols, arrows, or illuminations of what you want to draw attention to.
  2. Predictability. It should be obvious for users how to perform any action in your product. No one likes to wonder how to proceed with a purchase or what this or that button is for. All steps have to correspond to users’ needs; otherwise, visitors don’t receive what they expected and choose competitors instead of you.

#3 Life-like feedback

A properly created UX design should provide life-like feedback. When a user interacts with different elements they should be able to understand that their actions have been accurately performed. This helps them feel confident about the actions they perform.

As you can see on this Gif, when users click on a filter, it changes its color to blue to inform users that the program “saw” their action and processes it.

#4 Minimal cognitive load

A great UX design always applies the principle of minimal cognitive load. If you want a user to achieve the desired goal, you should reduce the total number of actions they need to undertake for it. It is best to use the three clicks rule, which means that a user has to be able to find any information or perform a desired action in no more than three clicks.

#5 Functional consistency

According to this principle, the interface of your product should be consistent. It means you should not confuse your users with changing the logic inside your product. For instance, menu items and buttons should follow the same logic on any page of your product.

# 6 Error prevention

When creating a UX design, all possible errors and problems that a user may encounter should be eliminated. For instance, create a cancel-button that allows users to call off action if users made it by mistake. Another simple way to prevent errors is to ask users “Are you sure that you want to perform this action?” before every important step. Such warnings are simple to implement, but they are very useful both for you and your customers. You need to create a product so that nothing hinders people from doing what they want.

Have you noticed that your metrics declined? Then you should probably resort to UX audit to understand how your businesses can benefit from it.

Most often, UI designers are also engaged in UX design because, you need to learn how a user interacts with the product to draw beautiful and user-friendly interfaces. Which is a UX task.

So, what exactly do UX designers do, and what their roles and responsibilities are? Here is a list for a better understanding:

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Strategy and Content:

  • Competitor Analysis. Proper analysis and evaluation of the competitive environment of software products allow a UX designer to create a sustainable competitive advantage of the product, choose the right communication channels, and reduce risks.
  • Customer Analysis. UX designers need to know people’s needs and create a product so that it meets their requirements and expectations.
  • Content Development. Based on the end-user analysis, a UX designer can create a portrait of a potential client: gender, age, social identity, and others. According to this information, they can design and develop the content of the future product.

Wireframing and Prototyping:

  • Wireframing. A UX designer has to create a black and white detailed layout of a product page. Here, the layout of the elements is planned: buttons, images, texts.
  • Prototyping. A UX developer is responsible for visually appealing versions of a wireframe. Here, colors are added, images are selected, typography is thought out.
  • Test launches. A designer has to identify any problematic areas in a resource: whether it is clear, logical, convenient enough, whether all its technical elements work correctly.

Execution

  • Cooperation with UI Designers. Only close collaboration between a UX and UI designer can guarantee that your product is both visually attractive and convenient.
  • Partnership with developers. If designers and developers work on a project side by side you can get a more cohesive product with excellent user interface, and code.

As you can see, the process of UX design is much more complicated. Nevertheless, it is necessary if you want to create a truly successful product.

UI vs UX. What is the difference between them?

It is not appropriate to compare these two concepts, because UI design is a part of UX design. Here are the main differences between them.

UI and UX design have entirely different purposes. The main goal of UX design is to improve usability, ease of use, and satisfaction that a client receives when interacting with your product. In contrast, UI design considers the appearance of a product as the primary goal. UX design, analysis, and researches are the first steps during the creation of a certain product. Once a prototype has gone through several iterations and is on its final stages, UI designers begin their part of work with the visual elements.

UX makes interfaces functional and a product valuable, while UI makes interfaces beautiful and easy to use. The importance of a UX research process lies in analyzing the products of your competitors. Such analysis allows designers to create a product that is valuable to your target audience.

A UI designer’s role is to make interface aesthetically pleasing for users. This includes choosing a proper color scheme and typography that will be attractive and easy to use.

UX is responsible for ensuring that your product meets the needs of users and allows them to achieve the desired result easily. UX takes care of client’s convenience not only within the product but within the whole business. Properly designed user experience facilitates all processes that influence customer satisfaction, whether it’s a purchase return or support service. UI design, in its turn, creates emotional connections and is responsible for transferring product development from research and layouts to attractive and comprehensible user experience.

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How UX and UI work together

Although UI and UX design are different aspects, they cannot exist without each other. UX and UI work together to provide a memorable experience for all users of your products. They are the background of any app or web UI/UX design.

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UX and UI are complementary. They help designers create modern, authentic-pleasant, and user-friendly websites and apps. To put it simply, UX is like a recipe for your cake, while UI is more like its decoration. Your users will get a great experience and want to come back to your website or app if you provide them with aesthetic UI and user-centric UX design.

Wrapping Up

To sum up, we have to say that UI and UX design are fundamental aspects of any product development. It is necessary to appeal to competent specialists in the area of UI and UX design to get a well-functioning and attractive website or application.

If you want to create a beautiful, attractive, and unique design for your product, contact our seasoned designers from Gapsy Studio. Visit our app design services page to check the full range of services we offer. And if you want to take a closer look at our portfolio, visit our Dribbble page and tell us what you think about our works.

Originally published at gapsystudio.com

Written by

Gapsy Studio is one of the leading UI/UX agencies. We focus on: mobile and web design and development, branding and animation.

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