Understanding the Role of a UX vs. UI Designer is Essential for Success
UX and UI designers both play critical roles in the app development process. Contrary to popular belief, UX and UI are not the same, although some people have used the terms interchangeably. Here’s what you need to know about each role, including their differences, similarities, and how each affects mobile and iOS development processes.
The User Experience Designer Role
A UX designer’s job involves making sure an app is as intuitive as possible for customers. A UI (“user interface”) designer, meanwhile, creates the interface that users actually see and interact with when they open the app. Obviously, both are important.
For the most part, users won’t notice the quality of a UX unless it’s poor. UX design is all about making sure that using the app is an easy, pleasing experience. Customers shouldn’t have to guess how to access a feature or function. The amount of steps users take to make use of features and functions must be as low as possible. As one expert puts it, an app should be useful, usable, and enjoyable.
Users expect apps to be intuitive and simple. They’re rarely aware of the UX designer’s work, unless using the app is a less-than-pleasant experience. Examples of major UX mistakes include surprising users with what a particular function does, forcing users to click through several pages to digest a piece of content, and including confusing sign-in processes.
Thus, UX designers generally take a scientific approach to their work. They must choose how to design the app’s architecture to facilitate ease of use. They also need to consider the capabilities of the devices customers will use the app on.
The User Interface Role
UI designers are more artistically-inclined. They design the overall look of the interface, including typography, color palette, icons, images, and anything else a user sees on the screen when they use an app.
This is not an easy task. Obviously, the appearance of the app must be pleasing to the eye. The color scheme shouldn’t be jarring, and the layout should look orderly and neat.
However, it’s also important that the imagery accurately reflects the company’s branded identity. Any images linked to app functions (like an icon users tap to access a feature) must stand out clearly enough that users notice them easily. Technically, the UX could suffer if unclear imagery prevents people from understanding how to use the app.
For instance, Windows 8 was notorious upon its release due to poor UI design. The operating system had both a traditional desktop incarnation and a tablet-friendly version. Unfortunately, both were included on the same computers. This forced users to learn how to use two interfaces, instead of just one.
You Need Both to Succeed
The difference between their two roles is the reason that it’s necessary for both the UX and UI design teams to coordinate. While they approach their immediate goals differently from each other, their overall goals are the same: developing an app that is both easy and pleasing to use.
A good-looking app is worthless if the experience of using it is confusing or tedious. On the other hand, if the aesthetic qualities of the app are unpleasant, it won’t matter how easy it may be to use. By coordinating, UX and UI design teams ensure that the finished product is appealing on all fronts. Make sure you have both in place for your own app endeavor to succeed.