The difference between a UI designer and a UX designer

I’ve had couple of friends ask me what is the difference between a UI Designer and a UX designer. Usually, The question is a very boring one considering the fact that the name already separates and tells who and what they are, people still need some sort of in depth explanation as to what the two meant and how they work together but to simplify this, I’ll take it one by one.

But before I do, I’ll like to refer to a website. Every great and good looking websites usually go through different processes. These processes are in stages. Each stages are handled different people or experts.

Now before a website is designed, a UX Designer usually have to create an architectural rendering of the solution which will be debated upon. Do note that the UX Design processes is an open room meeting because while the UX designer proposes his solution (usually in designs based on the researches he had done), there might be objections, suggestions and additions all which he can add up right into his proposed solution.

The agreed solution is then translated to a graphical layout which can be used to develop the solution. UI/UX designers or engineers works in different companies and in different industries all around the world because they basically create a solution that is visible and people can interact with.

Their jobs demands some skills and tools to achieve while beginning this might not be as tough as being a software developer which demands going through a hardcore number 0f source codes and hours of learning, UI/UX Designers usually train themselves through creativity and researches. Okay let’s break them down one after the other.

Who is a UI Designer?

Simply put, A UI (User Interface) designer is someone that creates a graphical representation of a software solution. This means that he envisions how the software should look and so create the graphical representation of that software or solution which will then be handed over for further development by the core software team.

While the User Interface designer’s job might seams to look like that of a graphic designer, they’re two different things entirely. While majority of Graphic designers aren’t necessarily working to create a layout of a software or solution, a UI designer usually work close with the software or architectural team.

The role of a UI Designer is very important in a company especially in an IT/Software company because they stand in between the raw idea and the realization of that idea.

The job also include having an indepth knowledge of process flows of the solution being proposed so as to be able to create a lasting solution that will appeal to the end user or client when the solution is being developed by the development team after his own rendering is completed.

According to Mark Stanley, a professional UI designer who had worked for big companies during his career, said the job role of the UI Designer is usually very challenging because the UI Designer usually translate the proposed solution to what the company’s bosses (Management) and even stake holders would expect from the development team. This means that he needs to create something that not only meet up with the standards of the company, but also something that will be appealing to the end user when launched to the general public.

Mr Mark also acknowledged the fact that the tedious part of the design processes is also having to research and being updated on the latest design trends especially those being used by the competitors.

Companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook invests a lot to create appealing visual solutions and applications to their end users. The designs are what users interacts with and no matter how awesome the server side solution is, the front end has to be at it’s best so users can use it as often as possible. And that takes us to the next question as to

Who is a UX Designer?

User Experience designer is that person who creates a solution based on how users/clients feels about the product. While that might sound similar to the UI designer, the UX designer’s job is less graphical but more illustrative because whatever the UX designer creates doesn’t get to the end developers but ends with the UI designer who then translates this into the graphical layout that is then translated to the working application which users interacts with.

Now, as a User Experience designer, the role is very wide and the discipline is highly demanding. Just like an architect, the UX Designer creates the process flow and how the solution will work. He creates the skeleton of the project which can be easily explained and narrated to the board of members involved in the project.

Also, a UX Designer go about making researches about the solution. He collates how user interacted with the previous or the competitors’ product (If any exists). He asks questions about from end users based on how they’d prefer to interact with a particular solution etc. While all these are being penned down, he creates a better solution in a mock-up rendering which he proposes to the team involved.

Upon approval, the solution is then sent to the UI Designer who creates the graphical rendering that is used for the end product. In most cases, a single person could be the UI and the UX designer. It all depends on the company’s standard and processes.

In major companies, the process flow goes as Business development team gets the proposals then it’s sent over to the Project Manager who proposes a solution to the client based on many reasons. The proposal is sent over to the UX Designer who conduct researches and creates Personae for the project. His solution is then translated to a graphical Interface rendering which is then developed.

Why they matter

Like I’ve said earlier, the roles of the UI/UX designers (Engineers) is very crucial especially in an IT or Software company. In most cases, developers are supposed to be working on the project realizations by writing codes and compiling those codes to meet up with deadlines.

The absence of the UI/UX designers in such settings will draw back the developmental processes because the software developers and engineers won’t have an easy process flow or graphical rendering to work with which would’ve sped up their jobs.

This is why their roles are very crucial. The experience needed to becoming a great UI/UX designer can vary but all depends on the willingness and creative capabilities of the individual in question.

While the average annual salary of a beginning UI/UX designer in the US can be around $59K  and way up to $186K, you can see the importance of these people as being of valuable importance in wherever they are.