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What is UX UI Design? A Beginner’s Guide

What is UX UI Design

It’s not enough for a developer to create a bug-free product that accomplishes exactly what it’s designed to do. The product must also be easy for the customers to use and provide them with a pleasant user journey, a delightful experience. That’s why we need UI and UX designers. UX and UI designers contribute significantly to how users interact with the product.

This article answers the question, “What is UX UI design?” and covers the definition of UI and UX design, what UX and UI designers do, and how the user interface design differs from the overall user experience. We will also cover the skills needed to be UX and UI designers and how to become a designer.

But before we determine the difference between UI and UX, let’s nail down their definitions.

What is UX and UI Design?

To best address the question “What is UX UI design?”, let’s give each term its dedicated section.

User Interface (UI) Design

The user interface is where a user interacts with a machine. The UI lets users operate the device to achieve a goal or complete a task. User interfaces include input hardware (e.g., mouse, keypad, joystick) and output hardware (e.g., printers, monitors, speakers). The three most found UIs are command line interfaces, graphic user interfaces (GUI), and voice-enabled user interfaces. The following characteristics make the best UIs.

  • Clarity. All UI elements must be clear to users and not require extensive figuring.
  • Consistency. The best UIs function consistently, allowing the users to recognize and take advantage of usage patterns.
  • Efficiency. Good UIs let users provide minimal input and effort to achieve their desired output. Additionally, well-designed UIs offer shortcuts to experienced users so they may benefit from more productive interactions.
  • Familiarity. A good UI lets users use their past experiences to interact with the current product.
  • Forgiveness. Nobody’s perfect. A good UI forgives user mistakes.

User Experience (UX) Design

The user experience deals with every aspect of the end-user interaction with the product, service, or company. UX is the customer’s journey as they use the product, covering all aspects, including branding, design, function, and usability. UX aims to make using the products and services accessible, logical, and fun.

Also Read: What is UI/UX: Understanding the Fundamentals of User Interface and User Experience Design

What’s the Difference Between UI and UX?

As we discuss the difference between UI and UX, Let’s use a microwave as an example. The UI would cover the microwave’s keypad and digital display, which includes the various buttons that control the appliance and allow the user to set the cooking time, etc. The keypad controls enable the user to interact with the microwave.

On the other hand, the UX would deal with the microwave’s overall features, such as a rotating dish inside for uniform heating, the microwave’s door and latch mechanism, what kind of beeping noise it makes, and even the appliance’s visual elements such as available colors and styles, and any other graphic design characteristics.

So, the UX professional says, “We want you to love this appliance and have the best, easiest, most fulfilling time using it!” and the UI professional says, “Here’s the control panel for running the microwave.”

This dichotomy exists regardless of the product or service. For instance, a website’s UI design process concerns itself with buttons, icons, and links. At the same time, the UX designers focus on the web page’s loading speed and how many times a user needs to click to get to a particular section or perform a desired function.

And yes, there is a significant overlap between UI and UX. UI is part of the UX concept since interfacing with the product counts as part of the overall experience of using the goods or services. The concepts are distinct yet interrelated.

Now it’s time to examine the specific UI and UX designer roles.

What Do UX and UI Designers Do?

Since we now have a solid grasp of what UX and UI design is, let’s break down the roles of UX and UI designers.

UX Designer Roles

The UX designer’s goal is to create a service or product that is accessible, functional, and a pleasure to use. UX designers typically start by creating a user persona, which sums up the target users’ goals, needs, and limitations. This method applies to non-digital products and services as much as to digital ones. UX designer responsibilities include:

  • Conducting user research to pinpoint behavior, goals, needs, and drawbacks associated with the product interaction
  • Using the research to create user personas based on the target customers
  • Developing user journey maps to show how a customer interacts with the product or service
  • Building wireframes and prototypes to establish what the final product should look like
  • Conducting user testing to affirm and validate the design decisions and identify problem areas
  • Collaborate and cooperate with UI designers, developers, and stakeholders

UI Designer Roles

UI designers create graphical portions of websites, mobile apps, and devices, all the elements that users directly interact with. Although UX can be applied to almost any product or service, UI applies almost exclusively to digital products. The UI designer’s job is to make apps and websites that are both easy to navigate and aesthetically pleasing. Typical UI designer tasks include:

  • Organizing page layouts
  • Selecting the suitable color palettes and fonts
  • Designing the interactive elements (e.g., buttons, drop-down menus, scrollers, toggles, and text fields)
  • Developing accurate wireframes and layouts for what the final design will look like
  • Working closely with developers to turn designs into functioning products

Read More: UI UX Designer Job Description: What Do They Do?

What About Combined UX/UI Designers?

UX and UI designers often work together, but some professionals perform both tasks. Although there’s significant overlap between these professionals, and you can undoubtedly find job postings that advertise for a combined UX/UI designer, inevitably, one role gradually takes precedence over the other.

Here’s a chart that shows how these roles compare.

User Interface Designer RolesUser Experience Designer RolesOverlapping Roles
Color TheoryUser Personas and ResearchCollaboration
TypographyProduct StrategyEmpathy
InteractivityInformation ArchitecturePrototyping
AnimationIterations and TestingDesign Thinking
Design Patterns and Visual DesignUser AdvocateWireframe, Site Map, Storyboard Creator

What Are the Primary Skills of a UX/UI Designer?

Each profession has its set of skills. So, naturally, there’s overlap here. However, we should take a moment and call out a special type of UX designer called the “UX Unicorn.” This semi-mythical creature is a UX professional who is not only equipped with a full range of general UX skills but also is excellent at coding and graphic design. If you want to achieve this legendary status, focus on mastering UX skills, then branch out into graphic design and coding.

Anyways, here are the essential skills for UX and UI designers to help you answer the question “what is UX UI design?”.

UI Designer Skills

These are the hard and soft skills all UI designers need to master.

  • Visual design
  • Interface design
  • Layouts
  • Brand design
  • Wireframing and visual design tools such as Adobe XD, Figma, Mockplus, and Sketch
  • Agile/Scrum methodologies
  • Programming languages like JavaScript, HTML, and CSS
  • Adaptability
  • Creativity
  • Communication and teamwork
  • Attention to detail

UX Designer Skills

Here are the hard and soft skills crucial to every UX designer.

  • Technical skills such as design and prototyping
  • Familiarity with tools like Adobe XD, Figma, and Sketch
  • Understanding of the design thinking process
  • Research
  • Problem-solving
  • Communication

Read More: UI UX Designer Skills: Here’s Everything You Should Know in 2023

What is UX UI Design: How Do You Become a UX/UI Designer?

Like other professions, a degree makes the job-hunting process easier. But unfortunately, only a few institutions offer specific UI or UX programs, let alone a UI/UX degree program. So instead, aspiring professionals should focus on either UI or UX and build their skill set from there.

For instance, many UI professionals study digital, graphic, and interaction design. Meanwhile, UX professionals focus on computer science, psychology, design, marketing, and human-computer interaction.

Apart from a degree, your best bet to become a UI or UX design expert is to teach yourself or sign up for online courses or bootcamps. If you choose the self-taught route, many free resources, such as books and tutorials, are available online. Then, practice your newly acquired skill set and create samples in a portfolio to show prospective recruiters.

If you choose an online course or bootcamp, you can use a more structured approach, typically taught by industry professionals. In addition, and most importantly, you earn a certificate that shows potential employers that you successfully learned and gained experience in the right skills for either a UI or UX design position.

Of course, online courses aren’t free, but this is a “you get what you pay for” situation since the resources available from online providers are immense.

Do You Want to Improve Your UI or UX Skills?

Speaking of online course providers, here is an excellent example of an effective UI UX bootcamp online. In collaboration with the University of Massachusetts, Simplilearn offers a five-month UI UX certification course that teaches valuable skills such as clickstream analysis, design thinking, empathy mapping, wireframing, microcopy, user-centered design, and much more.

When you take this UI/UX course, you will build a Dribble portfolio, learn the top designer tools (e.g., Balsamiq, Figma, Invision, Mural, and Sketch), and tackle capstone projects based on ecommerce, fitness, and technology industries.

According to Glassdoor.com, the average UI/UX designer in the United States earns $79,804 annually. So, whether you’re an established UI or UX professional who wants to upskill (and maybe become a unicorn!), or someone looking for a complete career change, check out this highly informative bootcamp today

You might also like to read:

Tips on How to Improve the UI/UX of a Website

UX Researcher Salary: A Definitive Guide

The UX Design Process: Everything You Need to Know

A Comprehensive Guide to UI UX Interview Questions

What Kind of UI/UX Designer Salary Can You Expect in 2023?

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UI UX Courses

Discover the Best UI/UX Courses for Mastering Design Skills

If you’re looking for online programs to boost your UI/UX design skills and career, you will find a dizzying array of options. This article shares some of the best UI/UX courses available today to help you understand your options.

UX UI Bootcamp


5 months

Learning Format

Online Bootcamp

Program Benefits