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  • Writer's pictureKaity Meade

The UX & UI relationship from the perspective of a student designer

I have to admit before I started my UX design program, I was under the impression that UX dealt with the aesthetics of a product a lot more than what is the case. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there is a different discipline that handles the visually pleasing components of a product because the aesthetics portion of the design process was what I was most intimidated by due to my lack of graphic design experience.

Since immersing myself in the design world, I have noticed UX and UI terms being used interchangeably even though they are very different from one another. Before we spot the major differences, let's start by defining UX and UI.

UX, or user-experience design, focuses on the user interaction from the first time they encounter the product to the last. UX creates simple design solutions to complex problems through research, testing, and empathy.

UI, or user-interface design, focuses on aesthetic elements that users will see as they use the product. UI uses typography, color palettes, buttons, illustrations, photography, and more to create a visually appealing product for its users.

During my time as a student, here are some major differences I have spotted between UX and UI.

  1. UX is all about mapping out the entire user's journey with the product to solve the overall problem. UI design brings the product to life by adding visual enhancements to add an aesthetically appealing experience.

  2. UX comes first in the process. From research to usability testing, UX designers have to fully understand the problem they're solving and the users they're designing for. UI comes in at the end to amp up the product and make sure it aligns with the branding, has an overall consistent design, and will attract the eye of the user and keep them engaged.

  3. Communication is key for both. UX designers need to make sure they are communicating with designers and developers to ensure everyone is on the same page before the product is ready for launch. UI designers need to ensure they're communicating with UX designers and stakeholders to make sure their designs are on brand and evoking the right emotions. UI designers also have to ensure that their layers and artboards are clearly labeled to make life easier for developers and anyone else that the design needs to be handed off to.

Both UX and UI work hand-in-hand and both are crucial to creating a user-friendly and pleasing product. I think what's important to note is that you don't have to be an expert in UI if you want to be a UX designer, and vice-versa. However, having some kind of knowledge or experience with both will only help you as an overall designer and teammate in your design team.

As I continue learning more about UI design, I have come to realize that there needs to be more conversation regarding the differences between UX and UI design amongst both beginners and veteran designers. The design industry can be a confusing one, and the more conversations like this we have the better that we, as designers, can continue to define and improve the UX and UI design world.

- Kaity

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