If you want to become a successful Webflow designer you must understand the difference between UX vs. UI design. This article will explore the key differences between UX and UI to help you know when it's appropriate to use them in your design process.
Key differences between UX vs. UI design
What is UX design?
The world leaders in research-based user experience Nielsen Norman Group define user experience as:
“User experience (UX) encompasses all aspects of the end-users interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”
The above-stated definition was made by Don Norman back in the 90s and still holds to this day!
As the name already suggests, UX design is all about users. It is concerned with:
- Does the website/product meet all the requirements of the users?
- How users are experiencing the content?
- How easy and joyful is it to navigate through the website?
- How easy is it for users to accomplish their goals?
To put things into perspective: UX is the experience that a person has as they interact with a product. Or a Webflow page in our case. Therefore UX design is heavily related to consumer research and analytics.
UX designers' job is to find the pain, values, and needs of their audience. The research doesn't end with customers. UX designers must also understand things like potential marketing gaps and what the competition is doing.
Once the pains and needs a clear, the designer will try to find the ideal solution for them. When creating optimal solutions, designers need to take into account the business goals. The Webflow page has to be aligned with the brand and its mission and vision.
To help us understand UX better, Peter Morville developed the User Experience Honeycomb. It illustrates the 7 facets of UX.
What is UI design?
While UX design is a human-first approach, UI design focuses on the visual side of design. It plays an important role in determining how website visitors interact with your website. Exactly like you are interacting with reading this article right now.
UI design is concerned with:
- How appealing is the website?
- Is the website easy to interact with?
- Are the interactive elements intuitive?
- Does the design feel natural?
UI designers' goal is to create a seamless user experience. They do this by optimizing typography, fonts, colors, transitions, images, etc.
Putting it simply, UI design aims to bring people back to the website. A pleasant user experience will increase conversion and enhance user retention. This is a crucial metric to follow, especially for young startups that don't have a high number of customers yet.
When we talk about UI, it is important to distinguish between 3 main types of UI design:
- Graphic user interface: UI we see on our computers and phones.
- Command-line interface: UI that requires sound to initiate action (Apple’s Siri.)
- Voice-enabled user interface: UI that is motion-activated and used in apps such as VR.
Now we understand the difference between UX vs. UI design. UI is focused on how the website looks and feels, and UX focuses on the entire user experience. To create an amazing Webflow site, you need both of them to work together.
What does a UX designer do?
Days of launching a Webflow website and putting some content together are far gone. To attract new users you will need to create a page, designed exclusively for your target audience. Their main goal thus is understanding the user inside out and keeping it on the website. Their workflow will usually look something like this:
- Create iterations.
One of the most important tasks UX designer has is to understand the users. Every UX design starts with extensive research with the goal to understand user pains, needs, and wants. Part of the research is also an analysis of the whole industry and your competition. Learning about industry trends will help you move in the right direction.
The next step is creating a design strategy to define the purpose of a product or a website. This step is crucial in mapping a functional and logical customer journey.
Before launching the fully functional website, the UX designer will create a wireframe. This is a low-fidelity prototype of the website that will serve only as a foundation for the page. The designer will tweak and change the wireframe to find the most optimal flow, before building the final product.
They will do those tweaks based on users' feedback. Wireframes are created for testing and fast iterations. As they gather feedback, they adjust the website accordingly. To conduct usability testing, UX designers do face-to-face interviews, create surveys, analyze heat-maps, etc.
Best tools for UX design
UX designers are pretty overwhelmed with all the tasks they need to do. Doing this all by hand would take ages. Having the right toolkit can ramp up the speed and efficiency of UX design.
Here is a list of some of the most common tools that can help you become a better UX designer:
- Figma: a collaborative and cloud-based design tool for creating wireframes and prototypes.
- Crazy Egg: a tool that helps you understand user behavior with heatmaps.
- Semrush: a complete tool to do competitive analysis as well as a build marketing strategy
- Optimal workshop: all in one research toolbox to help you test your website.
- User interviews: a tool that helps you get quality research participants to give you feedback.
- Lookback: another research tool that helps you get feedback from users.
- Miro: virtual whiteboard for design sprints, brainstorming, and creating design mockups and concepts.
What does a UI designer do?
UX designers take care of making the website functional, now UI designers must make it beautiful. Visual representation plays a key role in driving conversions and improving user retention. According to NN/g, users are more tolerant of minor usability issues when the website interface is appealing.
UI designers take user flow and wireframes (Created by UX designers) to turn them into visually appealing. Thus they need excellent graphic, visual, and branding design skills. Their main goal will be:
- Creating interfaces that align with the brand identity.
- Design an appealing website that drives conversions.
- Create interfaces that keep visitors engaged through the whole page.
Similar to before, the process starts with research, but this time with a bigger emphasis on the competition. UI designers must analyze and conduct competitive analysis. This helps them understand what the competition is doing and what are the design norms. Following design, the norm is crucial to help users understand what you do and how the website works. Going off the rails can overwhelm the users and make them unconfident when visiting your site.
The next thing in line is creating a visual brand identity. UI designers will have to figure out what the brands' personality and visual style is. All this incorporates choosing the right color palette, imagery, typography, patterns, etc.
When they define the style guide they can finally combine their work with the foundation, that UX designers already made. The UI designer will bring blank wireframes to life, and make their full scale and full color. They also have to deal with more technical stuff like white space, hierarchy, accessibility, etc.
Their work is not done even now that the design is complete and the website is live. UI designers will help to keep track of the traffic, heatmaps, and another important metric to help them understand performance. Based on this data, they will try to further optimize the site and drive conversion rates.
Best tools for UI design
UI designers use a number of tools to help them speed up the design process and improve their work. Some of those tools are:
- Figma: a collaborative and cloud-based design tool for creating wireframes and prototypes.
- Webflow: No-code tool that gives you the power to launch and build responsive websites without writing code.
- Mozaik: Ready to use free Webflow component that helps you create websites faster.
- World Web Consortium: gather information on the latest web and mobile standards and trends.
- Nielsen Norman Group: Web design organization that provides you with actionable tips to design better websites.
- Frontify: a tool that helps you simplify brand management by helping you to create brand guidelines.
How do UX and UI design work hand in hand?
When we compare UX vs. UI design, there is so much overlapping, that those two terms get mixed up all the time. This alone tells you that neither of them can work in isolation but have to collaborate throughout the project. We also need a developer to bring into the mix, who converts the designs into code.
Albeit all three of them are responsible for different tasks, the collective effort brings a page to life. Collaborating ensures consistency throughout the whole page. From design style and the written content, to how the code is written and executed.
Both UX and UI designers spend a large amount of time doing research. They need to share the finding and analysis to help them make more informed decisions. A more comprehensive understanding of your users allows you to create better websites.
Designers and developers need to curate a strong relationship. Developers don't need to know about design, but they need to understand the problem and value proposition behind the website. The same goes for designers. They don't need coding knowledge but need to understand how the design will translate to code. This will improve communication and make the workflow of both parties much smoother.
The last thing to consider is the handoff of work and information. First the UX designer hands off their work to the UI designer. The former hands off their work to the Webflow developer. All three of them need to understand what and why something was done and how to go forward from here.
How to get started as a UI or UX designer?
Not sure what career path to go when choosing between UX vs.UI design? Good thing is that you don’t have to choose either! There are a lot of companies looking for UX/UI designers.
Anyways, to help you answer the first question, let layout the core skills you will need as a UX or UI designer. According to Elementor’s article, those skills are:
Because there is no formal education required to become UI or UX designer, this field has become extremely popular in recent years. Especially with tons of online resources where you can even get certified.
Some of those resources are:
Those resources will help you kick start your career as a UI or UX designer, but remember! Getting certified alone is not enough to land your dream job. You will have to learn on your own, put in effort and time, and build a portfolio. Showcasing your skills with a portfolio will make a difference in whether you land a job or not.
We came to an end of our article. We hope that you understand the difference between UX vs. UI design despite the similarities. UX is much more research-based, while UI is focused more on creativity and visuals.
Both fields are incredibly important and when done correctly, they can yield great results. To help you understand the importance of UX/UI design, here are some shocking statistics for the end.
According to Smallbizgenius, more than 75% of site visitors will judge the website's credibility purely on its aesthetics. Truelist reports on ROI of the UX investment can climb up to almost 10,000% and enhance conversion rates by 200%. Uxeria reports that more than 70% of online businesses fail due to bad usability.
As you can see, investing in your website pays dividends. But in most cases, companies will lack the resources to create beautiful and high-converting pages in-house. They will assign a developer, designer, or even marketing expert to build and launch a website alone. And this can be a bit overwhelming in a company that grows fast and need quick results.
Frequently asked questions
Do I need a degree to be a UX designer?
Becoming a UX designer does not require formal education. Most UX designers don’t have degrees and thought themselves as designers through online resources.
Is becoming a UI/UX designer a good career?
Becoming a UI/UX designer is a good career choice when taking salary expectations and job opportunities into account. It also allows you to work remotely and have flexible hours in most cases.
How much do UI/UX designers make?
How much UI/UX designers make will vastly depend on their experience, employee, and country where they work in. The salaries of UI/UX designers in the US range from $30,000 to $520,000 with a median of $90,000.