You, I & you, ex what?

Easy UI & UX introduction

Either you know what it is and just need an easy explanation for your granny or you have selective short-term memory loss — it’s all good we understand.

UI & UX what?

Yes using the abbreviation can be even more confusing if you are hearing it for the first time. Noticed how I didn’t use UI/UX because it’s not a synonym but they sure need each other.

  • UI = user interface design
  • UX = user experience design

Can you pick up the commonality? — Yes, designing for the user, in short, design interfaces and experiences for you.

Why not UIXD (User Interface Experience Design)?

Essentially both disciplines design for the user. The interface designer makes sure the user can “see & touch” it and the experience designer make sure you can “feel and understand” it.

What is UX?

If you are a UX designer you do a little or a lot of everything. Firstly you might follow a UX design process that can look something like this:

  • Understanding the product and business
  • Researching the user and competitors
  • Defining user tasks, sketching user flows and wireframes
  • Designing screens (UI) and prototypes
  • Usability tests and reporting
  • Measure results and iterate

Or you follow the Design Thinking Methodology.

However, if you forget everything just remember this your goal is to develop a solution for the user based on evidence.

If you are following a process just for process sake like a to-do list you are doing it wrong. Each step needs to help and add value to the next step and finally towards your final solution.

Even in your process, like a true designer always ask yourself why?

Let’s look at a Real-life example

What do you see and feel when you look in the mirror?

Well, I see skin, my face my arms my legs, etc. I feel pleased that my body is banging but I could stay out of the sun a little more.

Do you see it?

  • UI = skin
  • UX = feelings & emotions

Without skin, we would look like aliens and it might be unpleasant to interact with us. Without feelings and emotions, we would be like robots and no one would share personal stories with us. Our skin and our emotions make us human. (plus a bunch of other stuff but I’m no biologist)

UI makes interfaces attractive so you would want to use it and UX makes sure you are pleased by the interaction.

So next time when someone asks you to explain it, it’s as easy as looking in a mirror.

Now let’s look at a digital example

How do you feel when Windows automatically updates your computer while you working or worse watching Netflix ;)

Tad irritated or frustrated maybe happy because now you are forced to take a break. Would you prefer to decide when to do updates — I don’t know maybe while I’m sleeping or during lunchtime so that I don’t eat while I work?

Yes, that’s UX! That’s only one example of many more — try to think about daily interactions and how that makes you fee

Side note: I’m leaving out much detail and differences between different roles within UX. That’s another article on its own.

What is UI?

UI designers, well you have guessed it — design interfaces. Obviously not as straight forward as that but they make sure what you are looking at is inviting and easy to interact with. UI focusses on the overall aesthetics — here you need strong visual design skills.

How do they do that, through mastering:

  • Color contrast
  • Typography
  • Font weight and size
  • Page layout and content placement
  • Mobile, app and responsive design
  • Motions and animation
  • Look and feel consistency etc.

Interested in what tools I use check out my post on UX/UI tools

Everything you interact with on a screen is designed by a UI designer. The UI designer visually communicates the journey UX designers designed for the users.

Let’s look at examples

We interact with interfaces every day, our phones, smart TV’s, computers, smart fridges, and ATM’s. Well us humans are good to judge when something looks ugly. We are not so good at complimenting when it actually does work well. And that’s not your fault ironically that’s what we aim for, good design is when you don’t even realize it’s good it just works.

Side note: I’m leaving out much detail and differences between different roles within UI. That’s another article on its own.

Designers don’t live in their own bubble

Even sometimes they do :) The relationship between designers and developers is vital.

In my experience, everyone is working together to solve a user problem. Your hard work won’t add value if it can’t be implemented because then no one can use it. Talk to your developer, and do that early on!

Plus the more involved the developers the better they too understand the users they build for.

Designer’s responsibility

As a designer, you need to think about how your designs could impact anyone, anywhere.

When you design, you need to design for where the people are at in the world, in that moment, and not where you are at.

Now go design for functionality that’s usable and pleasant.



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Building problem focused products for tech startups 👩🏻‍💻 around the world 🌎