User Interface Design (or UI Design) is sometimes used interchangeably with terms like User Experience and UX design. But in fact, UX Design and UI Design are far from the same thing.
So what does it mean when we talk about the user experience (UX) of an app, or the user interface (UI) of a product or service? If you’re interested in learning about UX and UI Design, and how to tell them apart, you’re in the right place.
This article will discuss exactly what each role does, how much you can earn in each field, which path is right for you, and how to best kickstart your UX/UI design career.
What is UX Design?
User experience design (or simply UX design) refers to the process of establishing the relationship or interaction between the company, its products, services, and customers.
This term was coined by a cognitive scientist called Don Norman in the late 1990s. It’s now a commonly used term in the digital world. According to Norman, user experience includes every aspect of the user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products. UX design has become incredibly important for brands that bring in customers through their app or website.
What is UI Design?
User interface design (or simply UI Design) is closely related to UX design. But they actually refer to slightly different aspects of design. UI refers to anything a user interacts with in order to use a product.
Early examples of user interfaces include command-line interfaces (CLIs) like DOS (Disk Operating System) and graphical user interfaces (GUIs) like Windows. These interfaces were used to access the core functionality of computer operating systems.
Over time UIs have developed for the convenience of users. Originally developed in the context of computers, UI is now widely used in virtual reality, mobile phones, and even home appliances.
The Difference Between UX and UI Design
UI Design is concerned with the specific elements that are involved in the interaction between the user and the product or service.
UX Design is more general and includes the entire experience that an individual has while using or interacting with a product or service.
Here are some of the major differences to keep in mind:
- UX and UI prototyping is a very different process. For UI Designers, the prototype is a high-end model. For UX Designers, it is more about the logic. The prototype created by UI Designers is for the clients and the one made by UX Designers is for the programmers. In other words, UI is for the front-end, while UX is for the back-end.
- Each role has a distinct set of tools. Graphics are a major aspect of UI Design. Designers will use tools like Principle and Flinto. UX Design, on the other hand, is more concerned with layout, content, and functionality. They use wireframing techniques and tools like Balsamiq and Mockplus.
- One focuses on visuals, while the other emphasizes logic. The prototypes created by UI Designers are usually in full color. However, only three colors: black, grey, and white are used by UX Designers. The difference here is due to the fact that UI Designers tend to make their prototypes more presentable, while UX Designers focus on logic rather than visual appeal.
Required Skills of UX and UI Designers
As the responsibilities vary with each role, so do the required skills. The following list outlines the typical areas of expertise for each role:
- Graphic Design
- UI Prototyping
- Design Research
- Color, layouts, and typography
- User Research
- Coordinating with UI Design teams
- Customer Analysis
- Competitor Analysis
- UX Prototyping
- Analytics and execution
It’s important to note that both UI and UX design roles share some common skills. Abilities like communication, negotiation, leadership, creativity, curiosity, attention to detail, and being a team player.
How Much Can I Earn in UX and UI Design Roles?
Both professions offer excellent job prospects and are highly sought after roles. However, bear in mind that your salary will vary depending on your specific experience, location, background, and industry.
According to Glassdoor, the average salary of a UX Designer in the US is $85,277 per year. This can increase to over $125,000 for more experienced designers.
Entry-level UI Designers make an average of approximately $60,000 a year and $75,000 at mid-level. When you gain more experience, you can earn as much as $90,000 a year.
Regardless of whether you choose to focus on UI or UX design, you can look forward to comfortable salaries and a wide range of career options.
How to Get Started in UX and UI Design
If you’re an aspiring designer who’s wondering where to begin, here are 6 great ways to get your foot in the door and kickstart your new career:
- Read Books and Online Resources
Begin your journey by gathering as much knowledge as you can. There are many books which can help you get started. You can also read UX design blogs. Professional forums, YouTube, and LinkedIn are also great resources. Consume as much information as you can on the subject to help gauge if this is the right job for you.
2. Find a Mentor
This step might not be feasible for everyone, but if you can find a willing UX design mentor, the insight gained can be invaluable. Use business conferences and meetings to identify potential mentors and don’t be afraid to ask!
Their knowledge, expertise, and experience can inspire you and provide you with an incredible advantage over other designers in the field.
3. Take a Course
There are no specific requirements in terms of degrees or qualifications, to become a UX/UI Designer. If you are serious about pursuing a career in any of these fields, enrolling in a bachelor’s degree is one way to begin.
Subjects like Graphic Design, Industrial Design, Interaction Design, or any other related field are a great place to start.
You can also fast track your career by joining a UX/UI Design bootcamp. These online courses will teach you all the skills you need to land a lucrative design job.
4. Real-Life Experience
Apart from theoretical study, you need some actual work experience. The best way to practice is by taking up some freelance or short-term projects. This will not only help you gain experience but also allow you to start building your design portfolio.
Connecting with the right people is essential irrespective of what industry you are in. Being part of a network of aspiring and established designers will be a tremendous help. These groups can be an excellent source of motivation, and even help you find a job in the field.
Showcase your experience and skills on sites like LinkedIn. This will increase your chances of landing a job that you deserve.
6. Keep Learning
Technology is fast evolving, which makes learning a never-ending process in this industry. You should always be striving to improve every single day. In addition, keep yourself updated with all the latest tools, apps, and trends.
The steps involved in becoming a UX or UI Designer are pretty similar. You need to stay focused, disciplined, and invest in your future with courses, books, and mentorships.
Bear in mind that freelancing is a great way to gain experience, build your portfolio, and get noticed in the industry. There are ample freelancing opportunities available online on websites like UpWork, Freelancer, and Toptal.
UX and UI Go Hand-In-Hand
You’ll often see job descriptions that reference both of these roles. Although these are separate fields, they are still new and evolving. The exact responsibilities of each role will vary from organization to organization. Some companies even hire one employee who can do both jobs.
So which role is right for you? Well, that largely depends on your individual preferences and background.
For more creative minds with an interest in graphics, visuals, and making people’s lives easier, User Interface Design should be considered. If you prefer a more pragmatic process and enjoy logical decision making, User Experience Design should be more your cup of tea.
For the best of both worlds, you can also consider becoming a UX/UI Designer. In this role, you will be involved in all aspects of the process. To kickstart your career take our UX/UI Design course. Learn essential skills to land a high-paying job. Benefit from one-on-one mentorship as you study our professionally designed curriculum.
Hopefully, this article helped you understand the main differences between UX Design and UI Design. If you’re interested in learning more, take a look at some other blog posts on the subject.