2022 UX and UI in Application Development
What is UX design?
User Experience, or UX, is a term that gets used (and a little abused) quite a bit. But what does it actually mean?
At a high level, UX is the experience a person has with a product or service.
Simple right? But as with many simple explanations, it encompases a fair bit. We’ll cover some of what UX design and UX research means in this article, as well as what it means for us here at Abletech and what makes it an important part of everything we do. Let’s get into it!
The UX burrito!
I think of UX like a burrito. Yes, I know, spot the Texan! But hear me out…
You may not really understand everything in it (like, what goes into guacamole and why is it amazing?), and by themselves, each of those ingredients is good, but put them together, roll them up, and WOW!
Now, while I ignore how much I want a burrito, let’s talk about what those ingredients are in UX UI design and how, when combined with the latest ux design trends, they can nourish your project through to the end.
What is the difference between UI and UX design?
You might be wondering why UX designer skills are something you should care about and if it is the same thing as UI design skills. The two are different, but often-times used together, and sometimes even interchangeably.
In fact, in the past these two job titles were combined to be defined as simply a web designer or sometimes a digital designer. It is only our increased sophistication in modern web/digital design that has given birth to the specific disciplines of UX and UI.
So, if you’re as confused as a cat tryin’ to bury poop on a marble floor, you have good reason to be!
Don’t worry, though - we’re here to break it down for you.
UX design is the art of learning about and designing around the user: what they need from the solution, and how they experience that solution.
Using their UX design skills, a UXer is there at the start of a discovery process, learning about the user and (while often working with technical solution leads) developing user-centric designs.
Throughout the design and development sprints, it is a UXers job to maintain touch points with the team and be an advocate for the user.
UI design encompasses the visual appearance and functionality design. Some might say that UI design picks up where UX leaves off, taking those experiences and wireframes, then crafting the visuals to make them work for the user.
In order for a UI designer to bridge the gap between UX and development, they create design systems which a developer uses like a blueprint for a house.
Since we’re doing food analogies
If we think of UX UI like a pizza.... UX is that you’re having a pizza, the kind of pizza, crust and size! And UI is the toppings and sauce: cheese, pepperoni, anchovies, pineapple (for those who just like to watch the world burn), or a few jalapeños!
What does a UX Designer actually do?
“User experience is like a joke; if you have to explain it, it’s a bad one” - Swiss UX/UI News
Essentially, UX is a human-centered design approach, which means as a discipline, it’s very reliant on user research.
A UX designer (or UX researcher) will use different user research methods to find out things like:
- Influences (external) to their experience
- Pain points
- Technical ability
- Quotes that summarize their feelings and thoughts
Then, they use their UX skills and all of that research to keep the user voice heard throughout the design process.
A UX Designer will focus on aspects like:
- user flows (through the site, application or product) that are seamless and allow the user to easily get to the information they need
- carefully crafted architecture and content which has exactly as much information as the user needs (because we want an uncomplicated, friction-free experience)
- a wireframe, which is like a basic skeleton of the interface and has the most basic navigational and page information without the aesthetics like colours or fonts
- an overall pleasant experience using the product or service.
Okay, so then what does a UI designer do?
“Ease of use may be invisible, but its absence sure isn’t." - IBM
A UI designer usually crafts graphical user interfaces (GUIs), but can also create voice-controlled interfaces (VUIs), and gesture-based interfaces (in virtual reality, for example). For the sake of this article, we’ll focus on GUIs.
Before a UI designer begins, they have the following in their arsenal:
- An awareness of modern web app ui design trends and accessibility design implications.
- The UX designers research on target user groups and web ui design that they would be most comfortable with.
- An understanding of the brand identity of the client for whom they are designing.
Then, a UI designer uses those tools to create design systems which will often include:
- pattern libraries
- style guides
Web application UI design also encompasses the interactivity of a site or application. That is, what happens to elements in the different states of interaction. These states may include:
- and combinations of these.
UX & UI -It’s complicated
The relationship between UX and UI can certainly have overlaps. But don’t be fooled: if you want to learn these two skill areas, you will need to understand each of them as separate disciplines. And you’ll likely need to revisit that understanding regularly because the definitions are always shifting.
“User Experience is like relationships. It’s complicated” - Yina Li
In a nutshell
This article merely scratched the surface of UX and UI. Both are umbrella terms that include a wide range of disciplines and skills that are valuable to anybody crafting solutions to problems which involve users.
These skills are hugely important to the Abletech team; in fact, it is at the heart of everything we do! So please contact us to discuss your needs and how our team of UX and UI designers can help guide and support your project from idea through to fruition with a custom-crafted UX strategy and lens.
Becoming a UX guru or a UI ninja
Keen to take on one of these job titles? Or just eager to learn more about skills needed to be a UX or UI designer?
There is a huge amount of information available on the roles and responsibilities of UX and UI, both together and independently. However, there are many free resources available as well.
Some of our favourites to learn about the skills ux designers need are:
A couple of essential books to get a good base for your UX understanding:
And if you’re looking for some training or how to improve your ux skills, here are a few of our favourites:
https://grow.google/certificates/ux-design/ - Google UX Design Certificate is low cost and requires only 10 hours per week.
https://www.nngroup.com/training/ - Nielsen Norman Group is very well-respected but not cheap. There are some excellent training sources here and you can work toward your UX Certification from them.