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What's The Difference Between a UX, UI and a Web Designer?

Website design, User Experience design, User Interface design…the difference is not always clear cut. Many times, these titles and disciplines have some overlap making it even more confusing. In this article, we'll shed some light on the general differences and similarities, what each role entails and whether or not it might be a good fit for you.

What is web design?

Web design deals with the process of creating static designs like landing pages and marketing websites created specifically to be rendered and viewed in a web browser. It's often a process of revision whereby multiple versions of a design might be created before settling on the final design.

What is are the responsibilities of a web designer?

A web designer's role is usually to design the landing pages and marketing websites for businesses and services. They often work on designing everything that comes 'before the signup or login page' of a digital product. Web designers focu on the layout of content and information that appear on things like sales pages, squeeze pages, about pages, contact pages and blogs. They are also responsible for curating and putting together graphics, imagery and typography using best practices for visual design and web browsers. A web designer may also know how to code their designs into HTML and CSS or may use no-code solutions to create informational websites, small business websites or marketing content for products. Web designers should also understand responsive and adaptive design -- how web browsers should render the page designs based on the size of the window and device they are being viewed on.

What are the deliverables of a web designer?

Sitemaps, content inventory, sketches, low-fidelity mockups, high-fidelity mockups.

Example of web design project

An online business has developed a new SaaS product they would like to market and introduce to their target audience. A web designer might be hired to take all of the information available about the product and brand (the look, the feel, the features etc) and package it up and display it in a concise way that introduces the product/service and it's features or benefits. They may be tasked with gathering screenshots, graphics, illustrations, icons, buttons and other visual assets and even writing the copy that will make up the website, all while being mindful of how this website will look and behave on different device sizes and in different browsers (responsive, adaptive design), how it will be coded, where the graphic assets and web files will live and how they will be delivered along with anything else related to the web and it's access.

Is web design for you?

If you enjoy designing curating visual content, designing static landing pages, small business websites and informational content for the web and if you want a good balance of visual and technical work. This might be a good fit for you.

Where to learn web design?

Product Design (UX/UI) Course | DesignerUp
An on-demand, video course to help you learn product (UX/UI) design and become a more skillfull and mindful designer.

What is UX (User Experience) design?

UX design is a social, analytical and storytelling skill. You need to be able to talk to people and get them to tell you about their problems and experiences and figure out the best ways to interpret and use that information to come up with possible scenarios in which your user would interact with or use your product. It's a process of coming up with ideas and testing your hypotheses based on user feedback and input. It is a process of iteration, in which the feedback gained is applied to incremental changes and improvements overtime.

What are the responsibilities of a UX designer?

A User Experience designer is first and foremost a User Advocate. The User Experience designer's job is to figure out the best way for the user to interact with the product, complete tasks and reach their intended outcome in the easiest and most pleasant way possible. They must also work within teams to meet the needs of the stakeholders involved. While they may be asked to bend to the required business or marketing needs, they are mindful to not break the central connection to their users and their empowerment.

What are the deliverables of a User Experience designer?

User Interviews and Surveys, Personas, User Journey maps, User Scenarios, Analytics reports, Sketches, Wireframes and Prototypes.

Example of a User Experience Design Project

An organization offers an online vegetarian meal delivery service. They are not sure who their target market is and how to reach them and give them an experience that helps the user achieve their goals with their product.

A UX designer might start by doing some online research and asking general questions such as: What are the current problems being experienced by the users of our service or app? Next they might do a competitive analysis to see what others similar products and services are doing and offering. Next, they might do some field analysis such as talking to current customers and potential customers and identifying their pain points. Now armed with this information, the UX designer can create a persona (hypothetical character with a backstory) and a user flow that details how that persona might go about ordering a vegetarian meal and the steps they would take to make that easy and effective.    

User Experience Designers collect data, take what they've learned and create a narrative out of it that they can test and iterate on to incrementally improve things for the users.

Is User Experience Design for you?

A social, analytical, cognitive and psychological pursuit. If you like people, gathering data analyzing it, creating personas, telling stories and testing hypothetical scenarios this might be a good role for you.

Where to learn User Experience Design?

Product Design (UX/UI) Course | DesignerUp
An on-demand, video course to help you learn product (UX/UI) design and become a more skillfull and mindful designer.

What is UI (User Interface) Design?

UI design is a visual and behavioral pursuit that deals with how symbols are mapped to dynamic visual components in digital interfaces. UI design deals with things like color, typography and visual hierarchy and how particular elements and their different states and components come together in an interface as well as how those elements are linked together and accessed by the user.

What are the responsibilities of a UI designer?

A User Interface designer is responsible for creating the look and feel of the presentation or product itself. They determines what visuals and components a user will see–  whether that's an app, a game or a website. A UI designer decides how a user will navigate from point A to point B via different visual touch points such as tapping a button or swiping through pictures and how those visuals should respond.

The UI designer receives what a UX experience designer has provided and crafts that into aesthetically pleasing interface elements, flows and states based on best visual design practices and delivers them in the form of design mockups, prototypes or final product ready screens.

What are the deliverables of a User Interface designer?

Prototypes, High-fidelty mockups, Design Systems, UI Kits.

Example of a User Interface Design Project

You've just been given some wireframes and requirements from your UX designer. They want you to design a mobile application that makes it really easy for a busy millennial to go online and order a vegetarian meal and have it delivered to them in time for dinner. It's the job of the UI designer is to turn that data into an appealing and consistent set of visual elements and components for the user to interact with . The UI designer might start thinking about what color palette to apply to the different button state changes in the interface or how to create a meal UI card that consistently visually show the user their option regardless of changes in the restaurant branding or offering.

UI is informed by and enhanced by the data gathered in the UX design process.

Many times, the UI designer and UX designer are one in the same other times, it's two or more people working together towards the same goal.

Is User Interface Design for you?

If you're a more visual thinker and are interested in the principles of design, color theory, shapes and how humans interpret these things. This might be a good role for you.

Where to learn User interface design?

Product Design (UX/UI) Course | DesignerUp
An on-demand, video course to help you learn product (UX/UI) design and become a more skillfull and mindful designer.

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Elizabeth Alli, DesignerUp

  • Elizabeth Alli

    Elizabeth Alli

    Mindful designer and mentor helping to create meaningful products and experiences.

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    Elizabeth Alli
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