• Kat Fenton

Laying Down the Law: UX and UI

I know what I’m doing, does anyone else?


Photo By ROOM on UnSplash

The more jobs that I look into, the more frustrated I get. There’s no shortage of UX/UI design positions posted on places like Indeed and LinkedIn, so why does it feel like they have no idea what they want for a designer? Don’t get me wrong, theres a lot of crossover between the two fields, but I feel like it’s important for everyone to understand the difference between the UX and UI.


So let's start with what I do. I’m a UX designer, with a focus on web design. UX is shorthand for User Experience. UX designers live in analytics. We’re technical and data driven. The definition of UX Design according to wikipedia is “the process of enhancing user satisfaction with a product by improving the usability, accessibility, and desirability provided in the interaction with a product.” For me, this product is a website. To enhance a site’s usability, accessibily, and desirability, I go through a long process of market research, SEO and visitor analytics, sitemapping, wireframing, prototyping, and testing. It’s a lot and that’s why it has it’s own job title. UX Designers cover alot of the interior elements of the site. They know how to find a users’ pain points and how to fix them, how to make a site’s experience relaxing and unobtrusive. UX Designers do all this without you even knowing it. Here’s an example of a good job description for a UX Designer:



Responsibilities of this designer often include wireframing, prototyping, and user testing. A background in psychology can often be a plus here as UX Designers need to develop a deep understanding of their audiences in order to build unique and usable personas. There's often analytics thrown in there as well.


What about UI? User Interface Designers often get coined visual designers. That’s because they are in charge of designing the layout and visual elements that you directly interact with. A lot of a UI Designer’s work is guided by what the UX Designer has already done. They are masters in applying branding to uncharted territory (we all know that most old brands were only developed with print in mind, this is where a UI Designer would be exceptionally helpful). UI Designers are also super adept at designing interactive elements and displaying interactive prototypes. Here’s an example of a job description for a UI Designer:


Obviously, there’s a lot of overlap between the two positions. UX and UI designers walk hand in hand. For small companies, combining these rolls into one UX/UI designer super designer can be a necessity but for larger companies, it’s important to hire them separately. Having a specialty pushes designers to do their best work in one field. There’s a time and a place for a jack of all trades, but specialization can have its perks. If you're looking for a career in one of these fields, do your research. Learn as much as you can. For a UI Designer, it's important to build up a strong portfolio of visual work. Beautiful layouts, imagery, copywriting, etc. For UX Designers, it's more important to build up a portfolio with case studies. Here's some more resources for building yourself up to becoming a specialist in either of these fields.


UX Design:

Facebook Groups - Designer's Guild

College or Online Courses

Coding Tutorials

Google Analytics

Bootstrap

GitHub


UI Design:

College or Online Courses

Learn SEO

How to Make Assets Web Ready

Inspiration Sites - Pinterest, Designspiration, Awwwards



Know someone that is trying to become a UX/UI Designer? Send them this article or share it with them on social media! You can also join my mailing list and receive monthly updates with curated design articles.


Kat Fenton | Little Rock, AR | fentonke@mail.uc.edu

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Kathryn Fenton