UI Designer. UX Designer. Product Designer. Digital Maker. User Interface Designer. Experience Designer. There are so many designer titles out there that’s only natural to feel confused about it, especially if you are not in the field.
One of the most popular is the classic UI/UX. The title itself describes a hybrid professional who is able to create Interfaces AND define the entire user experience.
In many cases, this works out pretty well, however it is important to highlight that UX is a complex process and it’s often not done by only one professional.
In my professional opinion, the term UI/UX Designer should not exist. Even though most designers can do both pretty well, each individual designer bends strongly towards either UI or UX. That’s why it’s important to know what your business needs most, before hiring one.
UI/UX is pretty popular term because tech companies, especially startups, hire designers who must design interfaces (UI) and define the product experience.
Let’s unwrap the titles a bit. This will help us better understand what exactly a UI designer and a UX designer do as well as clarifying their individual specialties. This will help you if you’re hiring a designer but you’re not quite sure how to understand his/her background.
What UI (User Interface) designers do?
UI designers are the ones who can design and create Interfaces for digital products. Smartphone apps, electronic devices, TVs, stereo-systems, etc. Basically everything that has a screen on it and requires user interaction.
A lot of talented UI designers can create interactive mockups showing micro-interactions, steps, usage flows, wireframes. This part is often misinterpreted as primarily UX work. The truth is, this part is only one layer of UX.
UI Designers don’t necessarily need to be good at UX, but they must know the basics and have an understanding of usability. When creating an interface, the designer must know which pattern to use regarding buttons, forms, navigations, and flows. As mentioned before, this is one layer of UX work, and it is the most shallow one.
What UX (User Experience) designers do?
A UX designer on the other hand, doesn’t have to be good at UI design. In fact, most full-time UXers don’t even do UI work. This is because UX Design is an immersive discipline that starts even before the product exists. (Well, it should).
UX design covers all aspects of your product. How you distribute it, how you price it, how you interact with users, how your brand interacts with users, how your team is organised, how the product scales, how the product behaves, how the user flow works, on-boarding users, off-boarding users… the list goes on. UX literally means User Experience, which covers every single aspect of your product, and UI is the very last step of a UX process.
UX designers will often present wireframes and mockups- here’s where the confusion comes from. It’s important to know that wireframes are just one layer of UX design process, the surface. There are many things before this step that UX designers carry.
There’s not a recipe for a perfect UX. It varies and depends on your business model, and your business goals.
What’s wrong with UI/UX title?
Honestly, the title carries the role for two different professionals. However, many small companies can’t afford to hire for both, and there are plenty of designers out there with knowledge in both disciplines, so it’s understandable to join the two. In order to simplify things, many designers use the term “Product Designer”, which in my opinion it bends more towards UX rather than UI, but in some way it encapsulates both.
But, if you hire an UI/UX designer, you shouldn’t expect him / her to deliver deep UX work, unless this professional has more experience with UX.
Before hiring an UI/UX designer you should first understand what you need. Ask yourself this: Do you need an UI/UX designer focused on Interface Design or Experience Design?
Do you want to improve the look & feel of your product? Get someone with focus in UI. Do you want to rethink your product and/or make it easier to use? Then get someone with focus in UX.
It is important to understand that UI/UX is not the same as Interface Designer or just UX designer. The skillset delivers different results.
Wanna learn more about UX?
There is plenty of good material out there but I’d personally recommend the content and courses from Joe Natoli.
This article from uxplanet also explains in depth the differences between UI and UX — https://uxplanet.org/what-is-ui-vs-ux-design-and-the-difference-d9113f6612de
Wanna learn more about User Interface design?
Stay tuned, I’ll be sharing more articles about User Interface Design.