I’ve recently found myself trying to explain the difference between certain web design roles; the skills someone can bring to a project as a UX Designer don’t necessarily cover the tasks of a dedicated UI Designer.
Know the Difference Between UX & UI Designers
I’ll explain it in a way that’s easy to understand – let’s take a quick trip to Disney World.
When visitors go to Disney World in Florida, they are introduced to a “user experience.” The park is divided into sections – Fantasy Land, Adventure Land, Future Land, etc. Each of these sections has certain related rides, exhibits, restaurants, and gift shops. Essentially, the park is designed so a visitor may easily flow right into the next section; UX web design on a website is no different.
It is the UX designer who provides a straightforward navigation, ease of use, link organization, and an overall seamless experience from start to finish for site visitors as they move through it and interact with products and services. The designer comes to understand these users by developing prototypes and conducting user testing. This includes ensuring that the website is responsive in this phase of web design, which we’ve detailed in a previous post.
While UX designers do a lot in the area of designing how users interact with products and services, their main focus is not on marketing or sales. They do often work in tandem with marketing departments, though, an example of this might be determining the sequence in which products and services are presented. Once this design is complete, as I mentioned previously, there are often face-to-face tests to assess how users behave and interact with the site.
Now, let’s go back to Disney World. The UX designer has created the well organized and seamless movement through the park. There are signs that point the way to everything, and visitors know by virtue of large maps exactly how to get to where they want to go next. It is now the task of the UI designer to come in and add the flair – all of the color and the architectural fronts of the buildings, and the thematic visuals that will give each section of the park its aesthetic values. This is where the art and creativity of web design come in.
UI web design focuses on the presentation and the look of a website – the visuals, the themes, the content repurposing and so forth. The UI designer is responsible for creating a style guide for the front-end engineer to build the actual interface, in which they determine the layout, the colors, the type, and generally how the site appeals to consumers. This position requires prototyping, design research, graphic development, artistic flair, and perhaps most importantly, maintaining consistency throughout.
Once the UX Designer and UI Developer have both done their research and tested out their prospective designs, there’s no reason your website can’t become its own Magic Kingdom!