Design, UI, UX, Insights

UI vs UX Design – Really Know the Difference?

Similarities and differences between UI vs. UX, the responsibilities of UI and UX designers, and a typical 10-step UI/UX design process.

Have you ever wondered why some apps and websites just “click” with you, while others leave you feeling frustrated and confused? The answer lies in the world of design, specifically in the fields of UX and UI.

User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design are two critical aspects of product design. While they work together, they have distinct focuses and responsibilities. In this post, we’ll explore the ins and outs of UX and UI design, including their similarities and differences, typical tasks and responsibilities, and a step-by-step process for designing effective user experiences. By the end of this article, you’ll have a deeper understanding of how these two fields come together to create the digital products we use every day. So, let’s dive in!

What is User-Centrered Design?

User-centered design (UCD) is a crucial approach to creating products that meet the needs and desires of users. It involves gaining a deep understanding of who your users are, what they want, and how they will interact with your product. This approach also aims to actively involve users at every stage of the design process, from research and analysis to evaluation and testing.

User-centered design (USD) refers to a design approach that focuses on gaining a deep understanding of who will be using the product and aims to actively involve users at every stage of the design process.

Stages of the UCD Process:
  • Research and analysis: During this stage, you identify the people using the product and what they will use it for.
  • Concept and requirements: During the second phase, you identify user goals and business requirements that your product must meet to succeed.
  • Design solution: This stage includes all design stages, from a rough sketch to the final prototype.
  • Evaluation and testing: Includes usability testing, quality testing, and adjusting requirements.

For example, let’s say you’re designing a new mobile app for a fitness company. Your UCD process might begin by conducting research and analysis to identify your target users, such as people who want to improve their fitness levels or track their workouts. Next, you would move on to the concept and requirements phase, where you would identify the specific user goals and business requirements that your app must meet to be successful.

From there, you would begin the design solution phase, which includes everything from rough sketches to the final prototype. Throughout this stage, you would continually test your designs with users to ensure that they are intuitive, easy to use, and meet their needs.

Finally, you would move on to the evaluation and testing phase, where you would conduct usability and quality testing and make adjustments to your design based on user feedback.

While user-centered design (UCD) refers to an entire process you apply to create an experience, the user experience (UX) refers to a specific concept of how your users will experience your product.

This means UX is an essential part of UCD. In fact, UI and UX designers use the UCD approach to solve problems and eliminate as many user limitations as possible.


The Basics of UI Design

Have you ever used an app or a website and thought to yourself, “Wow, this looks really sleek and easy to use”? That’s the work of a UI designer.  User interface design (UI) refers to a product’s look, interaction, and overall presentation. It focuses on the design of the interface and individual screens on a user’s journey.

UI is strictly a digital term, as the function optimizes the interaction between people and digital systems, making it fluid and intuitive. For example, the UI of a complex mobile application can establish a clear content hierarchy through images, typography, colors, shapes (buttons), and other visual elements.

So, what does a UI designer do?

Let’s say you’re in charge of designing a new eCommerce website. As a UI designer, you’ve got a big job on your hands. Your goal is to create a design that’s visually appealing and easy for users to navigate, all while encouraging them to make purchases. This means you’ll be thinking about things like color schemes, typography, and button placement.

But there’s more to UI design than just making things look pretty. You’ll also need to consider the usability and accessibility of the product. For example, if you’re designing a mobile app, you’ll need to make sure that the buttons are big enough to be easily tapped with a finger. After all, there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to use an app with tiny, hard-to-reach buttons!

As a UI designer, you’ll have a bunch of different tasks and responsibilities. You’ll need to conduct design research to make sure your design meets the needs of your target audience. You’ll also be creating high-fidelity prototypes to test out your design and get feedback from users. And of course, you’ll need to work closely with developers to make sure your design is implemented correctly.

Tasks and Responsibilities of UI Designers

The UI designer works with the final product prototypes and creates the visual design to make the product attractive, intuitive, usable, and responsive. The role of the UI designer consists of the following tasks:

✅ Design research and analysis: This includes researching users and competitors, the latest trends, and finding inspiration.

✅ Visual design: Planning and designing all the visual elements of the interface. This includes page layouts, typography, spacing, colors, graphics, icons, buttons, etc.

✅ Animations and micro-interactions: UI designers also create animations, hover effects, and transitions.  Also, interactive elements such as buttons, toggles, and drop-down menus.

✅ Branding: Implementing brand visual style into the product. This means when working on the interface, the UI designer works on color schemes, typography, and other visual elements that correspond to the general brand concept of the product.

✅ Style guides: UI designers also create style guides and libraries that include all design elements used for the product and how they should look.

✅ Prototypes: Preparing mockups and high-fidelity prototypes. These are ready for user testing.

✅ Collaboration: Working with the developers to implement design into a functional product.


The Basics of UX Design

User experience (UX) refers to providing meaningful user experiences such as usability, function, and design. As it focuses on the experience users have with a specific product, UX aims to make these products functional, accessible, and pleasant to use.

Unlike UI, which exists only for digital products, UX can also be applied to non-digital ones. As technology rapidly evolves, UX can provide multimodal experiences, such as voice, gesture, and touch.

So, what does a UX designer do? They create a smooth and enjoyable journey for users. This involves planning, researching, mapping user journeys, wireframing, and evaluating the product.

For instance, let’s say you’re a UX designer for a mobile banking app. You’d start by researching what users need from the app and create a plan for it. Next, you’d organize the different features and functions into an easy-to-use information architecture. You might create wireframes to show how the app will look and function and test it with real users to identify any issues.

Finally, you’d take user feedback and use it to make improvements to the app. Your goal is to create an app that users love to use and that provides a great user experience.

Tasks and Responsibilities of UX Designers

UX designers don’t concern themselves with the visuals as much as UI designers, rather than creating a user-friendly journey for the target audience. The role of the UX designer consists of the following tasks:

✅ Planning: Includes researching and identifying goals and behaviors related to the product interaction. UX designers create a strategic plan and ensure all stakeholders are on the same page.

✅ Research: Includes researching, identifying, and fixing any pain points involved with the interaction.

✅ Information Architecture (IA): Organizing the information within the product to form the basis of the user experience. This includes content structures, navigation systems, and other factors that will make it easy for users to find the information they need.

✅ User journey maps: The UX designer maps how the users interact with the product, from the user perspective. These journey maps show what happens at each stage of the interaction and what obstacles and barriers may occur.

✅ Wireframing: Preparing a wireframe that shows how the design functions.

✅ Evaluation: Performing evaluation on design usability with real users, quality testing, validating design decisions, identifying design flaws, and adjusting requirements.


What Makes UI and UX Similar?

UI and UX are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to two different aspects of the design process. While they have their own unique focus and tasks, they share some important similarities. In this section, we’ll explore what makes UI and UX similar.

As part of the user-centered design, UI and UX develop processes with the user in mind.

The reason why people might confuse the two terms is their similarities:

  • Both UI and UX plan, think and design user-friendly products.
  • They complement each other to create a meaningful, interactive, and pleasing final product.
  • Both processes build creative designs that best deliver the final product.
  • UI and UX help raise brand value.
  • Research is a crucial phase for both UI and UX.
  • UI and UX design skills naturally relate to one another.

When UI and UX designers team up, they’re working towards a common goal: to create a product that not only looks good but is also easy for users to navigate and interact with.

Let’s take website design as an example. The UX designer starts by doing research to understand what the audience wants and needs from the site. They then create a roadmap or plan for how users will move through the site, making it as easy as possible for them to find what they’re looking for.

Then the UI designer comes in and brings that roadmap to life by designing the visual elements of the site, like the colors, fonts, and layout. They also make sure the site is user-friendly and easy to navigate, so users can easily interact with it.

When the UI and UX designers collaborate, they can create a website that not only looks great but is also easy to use, providing a positive experience for users.


What Makes UI and UX Different?

UI and UX may seem similar, but they have distinct differences. UI is concerned with the visual and interactive aspects of a product, while UX is about the overall user experience. The same way, UI designers focus on individual screens and aesthetics, while UX designers look at the bigger picture and consider factors like navigation and structure.

UX also involves more in-depth research into competitors and market analysis, while UI involves researching users and visual design trends. In terms of goals, UI designers focus on each step toward the user’s goal, while UX identifies the goal itself. Finally, UI designers create high-fidelity prototypes, while UX designers use wireframes to design user flows.

  • Concept: UI design is what users see when using a product. UX is what they experience.
  • Function: UI focuses on look, aesthetics, and interactivity. UX takes care of the architecture, structure, navigation, and overall experience.
  • Focus: UI designers focus on each screen in detail. UX looks at the bigger picture and designs a broader view of the product experience.
  • Research and analysis: UI requires designers to research users and visual design trends. UX requires a deeper dive into the competitors and market analysis.
  • Experience: UI has an artistic component by handling the product’s environment, actions, and movements. UX has a social component by handling the user’s needs, emotions, pain points, and needs.
  • Goals: UI designers build the experience for each step towards the user’s goal. UX identifies what the goal is.
  • Prototype: UI designers prepare high-fidelity prototypes ready for user testing. UX designers design user flows using wireframes.


What is a Typical UI/UX Design Process?

In this section, we will walk through the typical 10-step design process that combines both UI and UX design.

This process involves working collaboratively between the UX and UI designers to create a product that is visually appealing and user-friendly.

✅ Step 1. The UX designer kicks off the project by researching the market, competitors, and user base.

✅ Step 2. The UX designer then works with the stakeholders in order to identify user goals and business requirements. This includes goals and behaviors related to the product interaction.

✅ Step 3. The UX designer creates the information architecture. This includes content structures and navigation systems, as well as the creation of low-fidelity prototypes or rough sketches.

✅ Step 4. Once the low-fidelity prototypes of the information architecture are approved, the UX designer tests the navigation and user flows to identify their flaws and adjust them based on the results.

✅ Step 5. When ready, the UX designer hands the project to the UI designer.

✅ Step 6. The UI designer takes the low-fidelity prototypes and proceeds with research. They identify which color palettes, patterns, fonts, and other visual elements would work best.

✅ Step 7. When ready, the UI designer styles the prototypes by adding all the visual elements of the interface: page layouts, typography, spacing, colors, graphics, icons, buttons, etc.

✅ Step 8. The UI designer creates animations, hover effects, transitions, and other micro-interactions. Once done, they create a high-fidelity prototype that includes the screen and all the interactions.

✅ Step 9.  The UX designer tests and evaluates the prototypes. When needed, they send the prototypes back to the UI designer for changes.

✅ Step 10. Once the final design is approved, the design team sends the prototype to the developer’s teams and proceeds to work closely with the developers.

The UI designer takes over after the UX designer has completed research and created the information architecture. They research visual elements, style the low-fidelity prototypes, and add interface elements. The UX designer evaluates and tests high-fidelity prototypes and sends them back to the UI designer if changes are needed.

For instance, let’s say a mobile app development company wants to create a new social media app. The UX designer would begin by researching the market, competitors, and user base, and then identify user goals and behaviors related to the app interaction, creating low-fidelity prototypes of the app’s information architecture. Then the UI designer would conduct research to identify the best visual elements and styles for the app and proceed to style the low-fidelity prototypes. The UX designer would then evaluate and test the high-fidelity prototypes to ensure a user-friendly and positive experience. Finally, the design team would work closely with the developers to launch the app.


FAQ about UI/UX

So, we’ve just talked about the distinctions between UI and UX design and how they work together in a standard design process. But it’s completely understandable if you have questions about UI and UX design and their role in the product development journey. That’s why we’ve got you covered with an FAQ section that tackles some frequently asked questions and provides insights into the world of UI and UX design.


👉 What’s the difference between UI and UX?

In short, UI design focuses on the aesthetics and visual components of a product that users encounter while interacting with it. This involves aspects such as colors, shapes, typography, graphics, icons, buttons, and micro-interactions. UX design, on the other hand, deals with the user’s overall experience of interacting with a product and how seamless, intuitive, and efficient that experience is. This encompasses factors such as the product’s information architecture, navigation, and user flows.

👉 What is UI/UX research?

UI/UX research is a crucial component of the design process that helps to define the product’s target audience, understand user goals, and identify business requirements. There are two types of research involved:

  • Qualitative research: The “How?” s of the project. It focuses on understanding the user’s realistic experience by gathering descriptive data. This involves methods such as target audience interviews and user testing to gain insights into how users interact with the product.
  • Quantitative research: The “What?”s of the project. This refers to gathering numerical data that can be analyzed and turned into statistics. This data provides insights into product usage, user behavior, and other metrics. Methods for gathering such data include surveys, analytics, and A/B testing.

Together, both types of research can provide designers with a comprehensive understanding of the user’s needs, preferences, and pain points, which can inform design decisions and lead to better user experiences.

👉 Why Is it Important to Know Both UI and UX?

Knowing both UI and UX is important because it allows designers to create products that are not only visually appealing but also user-friendly and functional. When both UI and UX work together, the end product is much more effective and successful. Even if you specialize in one area, having a basic understanding of the other can help you communicate with team members and collaborate more effectively. Moreover, having diverse skill sets and a holistic understanding of the design process can make you more valuable as a designer and open up more career opportunities.



When it comes to UI vs UX, the short answer is UX design focuses on identifying and solving user problems in order to create a usable product, while UI design handles the creation of intuitive, aesthetically-pleasing, interactive interfaces. Both terms are related and overlap, playing key roles in the product development lifecycle. Hopefully, this blog post helped you clear up the similarities and differences.

Don’t forget to check out our related articles if you want to dive deeper into the world of UI/UX design. You’ll find more insights, best practices, and plenty of design inspiration.

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