UI vs UX? What is UI design? What is UX design?

Unlocking the mysteries of UI UX design often poses challenges even for seasoned professionals. What is UI? Whats is UX? or even, what is UI UX? Where does UI UX experience comes from?

But fear not, through this comprehensive guide, you'll untangle the intricacies of user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design. Or some may known as product designer.

Understanding the difference between UI and UX is crucial for creating visually appealing and user-friendly products or websites. This knowledge helps enhance the overall user experience.

To understand user interface design and user experience design, stay with us for a knowledge-filled journey. UIUX designers are key players in building products that meet the needs and expectations of human users.

A man holding a phone with a prototype design. Image from Unsplash

What is UI Design?

Simplicity defines UI design, often mistaken for mere aesthetic appeal. Yet the depth of UI design transcends curating visually stimulating interfaces but refers mainly to the design of graphical user interfaces.

The aim is to make user interactions simple. This requires expertise in elements like colors, typography, and interface.

Decoding the lens of user interface elements reveals a world brimming with intricate details that mold user interaction with products. Every part, like buttons and toggles, to containers like accordion, is important in the final UI design. UI components must be visually appealing, functional, and intuitive to improve the user interface design.

Digging deeper into UI design principles unearths concepts like legibility and coherence. Text in UI design should be easy to read, and consistent UI elements and design patterns help users predict UI behavior.

In UI design, clarity is crucial. Users should not have to exert effort to understand how each part works or the overall layout of the interface.

"Mockup, wireframe and then product design," goes the classic saying among UI enthusiasts. It begins with capturing layout ideas through sketches, a phase known as wireframing, before diving into graphic design.

Then comes the closer relation to the end product, mockup. Figma and InVision simplify the process of creating prototypes for websites and mobile apps. They help bring design ideas closer to the finished product by making it easier and quicker.

female ui ux designer interviewing a man
Female UI UX designer interviewing a man. Image from Unsplash

What is UX Design?

UX design is a complex field that includes many aspects, such as interaction design and product experience. At its core, UX design revolves around the optimum route for product-to-user interactions.

This covers the whole user experience, from the first interaction to their thoughts and emotions about the product.

Constructing a meaningful user experience requires a deep understanding of the target users, their needs, values, abilities, and limitations. User research and user flow become players of immense value, mapping the user journey to create intuitive and user-friendly products.

UX design focuses on user behavior, while UI design focuses on aesthetics. UX designers use information architecture to create easy-to-use navigation systems for different platforms.

Crucial UX design skills include ideation, user research, and wireframing-all to create a fluid path for target users. Rough sketches or wireframes evolve into detailed product layouts, where user needs mould the story behind the design.

User Experience Design also endorses best practices and incorporates concepts from Don Norman's heuristic principles for guiding user interaction. Using UI elements well enhances the user experience, balancing beauty and usefulness, from dropdowns to toggles.

Colors guide users through product experience, making it enjoyable. UI and UX designers use input controls to enhance the user experience. They strive to find a balance between aesthetics and functionality. These controls range from dropdown menus to switches.

UI UX Designer Designing Wireframe
A man designing a website information architecture. Image from Unsplash

How They Work Together

UI and UX design are closely connected and rely on each other to create a seamless user experience. This combination is known as UIUX design. UI inputs and UX contribute to product design. UI focuses on aesthetics, while UX focuses on user journey and functionality.

A search box on a website is a good example. UX design began because people needed to find information quickly. UI design makes it look nice and easy to use.

Both user interface and user experience design carry immense weight in software development. Together, they shape how the user interacts with a tool, a critical aspect for every software developer.

User-friendly products make it easy for users to do things, connecting what users want with what the product does.

Notably, UI and UX work to achieve one common goal: a satisfying product experience. The smoothness of how the UI and UX work together affects user engagement and the success of a product. Design choices, interaction design, user research, and prototyping shape how users interact with your product using Figma or Invision. Both UI and UX designers play crucial roles in this process.

person writing on white paper
A team of UI designer and UX designer working on a mobile app. Image from Unsplash

Research is Key

A profound understanding of the user remains the cornerstone of both UI and UX design. In-depth user research can illuminate user needs, implying the significance of personalized and user-centric design solutions.

An integral part of UX design, user research, gives insights into the behavior, views, and motivation of target users. The process uses tools like surveys, interviews, and usability tests to gather data used to design functional and user-friendly products.

This is where heuristic analysis steps in - a usability engineering method for finding usability problems in a user interface design. From accessibility to consistency, these rule-of-thumb strategies simplify decision-making and better the designs by guiding interactions between your target user and the product.

User research also feeds into UI design by informing the design choices. Understanding the target user's needs and preferences assist in creating a visually appealing, user-friendly design with attractive color schemes, legibility, and intuitive icon design.

Therefore, evidence-backed design decisions often champion the battle of satisfying user experiences, underlining research as a critical phase in the design process.

A ui designer working on Figma to design a mobile app
Designer designing on Figma. Image from Unsplash

A profound understanding of the user remains the cornerstone of both UI and UX design. In-depth user research can illuminate user needs, implying the significance of personalized and user-centric design solutions.

An integral part of UX design, user research, gives insights into the behavior, views, and motivation of target users. The process uses tools like surveys, interviews, and usability tests to gather data used to design functional and user-friendly products.

This is where heuristic analysis steps in - a usability engineering method for finding usability problems in a user interface design. These strategies simplify decision-making and improve designs by guiding interactions between users and the product.

User research also feeds into UI design by informing the design choices. Knowing what the user wants helps make a nice design with pretty colors, easy-to-read text, and simple icons.

So, using research to make design decisions is important for creating user-friendly experiences.

Research in UI Designs

UI design leans heavily on research to shape every design decision. Research is crucial for creating user-friendly and visually appealing apps, from color selection to button placement.

Identifying and studying the target audience is the key to successful UI design. UI designers use target user preferences to decide on colors, fonts, and the overall appearance of the interface.

They constantly ask "How will the target users perceive this adaptation? Will this font improve legibility?" UI design research helps developers improve their understanding of user preferences through careful study and experimentation. This understanding allows developers to optimize the interface effectively.

Users' expectations and habits can help or hinder interface usability, as they don't interact with interfaces in isolation.

User interface design requires rigorous research in evaluating how colors, typography, and design elements contribute to an interface's legibility and usability. The UI designer ensures that every design choice is user-friendly and aligns with the product's purpose. The designer's role is to prioritize user comfort and the product's objectives.

Making the right choices in design is important for how it looks, how users act, and how well it works.

a designer holding an ios or android app design
A person holding an iOS app designing mockup. Image from Unsplash

Research for UX Design

In the realm of UX design, research is a diligently-revered task, often leading the product’s development. The UX design process begins with a comprehensive understanding of the users' needs, goals, and pain points through extensive user research.

A meticulous research process provides valuable insights leading to answers to important questions - “How do target users interact with the product? How can we improve the product to provide a better user experience?" These answers become fundamental building blocks of the UX design. The research leads the way in shaping information architecture and interaction design. From product's accessibility to navigation layout, research gives the team the courage to make bold decisions, knowing they're backed by data from real users.

Statistical data, interviews, usability tests, and even heuristic evaluations all chip into the pile of priceless tools to study user behavior. In UX design, research directs the ideation process, steers prototyping, and even upholds the potential to go beyond to predict future trends and user needs. Remember, good UX design is user-centered.

It increases customer satisfaction, directly impacting the product's success rate. User research, therefore, is the compass that guides UX design, constantly ensuring the end product speaks directly to the user's needs and enhances their overall product experience.

UI vs. UX: Two Very Different Disciplines that Work in Harmony

he disciplines of UI and UX design may differ in their focal points, yet they operate harmoniously to create a satisfying and efficient user experience. UX (User Experience) considers the entire interaction that the user has with the product, often delving into details like how the user responds to the product and how easy the user finds the product to use.

UI (User Interface), on the other hand, puts emphasis on the aesthetic aspects of a product's design. Its main concern is the look and feel of the product, achieved by working on color schemes, button styles, icon design, and all elements that make up the product's interface.

The two areas, while inextricably linked, still differ in several ways. UX design begins with understanding the user's needs and creating a product flow that solves their problems, led by a clear and comprehensive user flow.

UI design takes this functional layout and ensures it is aesthetically pleasing and intuitive to use. Together, UI and UX create a product that is not only pleasing to the eye but also efficient and enjoyable to use.

From the moment a user opens an app or a web page, the well-crafted symbiosis of UI and UX design ensures a seamless, satisfying experience. Crafting a flawless user experience is a dance between UX and UI designers – an intricate performance where each design decision influences the overall product experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is UI design and how does it differ from UX design?

UI design, also known as user interface design, refers to the visual aspect of designing digital products or services. It focuses on the look and feel of a product, including its layout, color scheme, typography, and overall aesthetics. On the other hand, UX design, or user experience design, encompasses a broader scope and refers to the entire process of enhancing the user's satisfaction and overall usability when interacting with a product or service.

While UI design focuses on the visual elements, UX design takes into account the user's emotions, needs, and motivations, as well as the overall functionality and ease of use of the product. In simpler terms, UI design is more concerned with the presentation and visual appeal, while UX design is concerned with the overall user experience, usability, and functionality of a product.

Both UI and UX design play crucial roles in creating successful and user-friendly products or web design, and they often work hand in hand to achieve the desired results. Input controls and user experience designers are vital components of UI and UX design, with the goal of building products that meet the needs of human users.

How do UI and UX work together to create a seamless user experience?

UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) are two essential components that work hand in hand, collaborating to create a seamless and enjoyable user experience. Although they differ in their roles, they are interconnected and intertwined in the overall design process.

UI focuses on the visual elements and aesthetics of a website or application. It takes into account the layout, color schemes, typography, and overall design elements to create an appealing and engaging interface. The UI designer's goal is to ensure that the interface is visually appealing, easy to navigate, and visually communicates the brand's message and identity.

On the other hand, UX concentrates on the overall user journey and experience when interacting with a website or application. UX designers analyze user behaviors, needs, and pain points to create a user-centered design that is intuitive, efficient, and enjoyable. They focus on understanding the user's goals and motivations and strive to create a seamless and satisfying experience that meets those needs.

While UI primarily deals with the surface-level design, it is essential for driving the user experience. A visually appealing and well-designed interface can attract and engage users, making them more likely to stay on the website or app. However, if the underlying user experience is flawed, even the most visually appealing interface will fail to retain users and achieve its objectives.

To create a seamless user experience, UI and UX must work in harmony. The UI designer should work closely with the UX designer to ensure that the visual design aligns with the user experience goals. They should collaborate in wireframing and prototyping to visualize the user journey and ensure that the interface elements support the desired user interactions.

For example, a UI designer might focus on creating a visually pleasing button design. However, the UX designer would consider the placement, size, and color of the button to ensure it is easily accessible and leads the user towards their desired action.

Ultimately, a seamless user experience is achieved when the UI and UX are fully integrated. When the user interface ux visual design aligns with the user experience goals and considerations, users are more likely to have a positive and satisfying experience. A well-executed UI enhances the UX, enabling users to effortlessly navigate and interact with the interface, resulting in increased user engagement, satisfaction, and ultimately, the success of the website or application.

Why is research an essential component in both UI and UX design processes?

Research is an integral part of both UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) design processes. It provides designers with valuable insights into the needs, preferences, and behaviours of their target users. By conducting thorough research, designers are able to make informed decisions about the layout, functionality, and overall design of a product or website.

In UI design, research helps designers understand the visual aspects of a user interface, such as color schemes, typography, and iconography. By conducting user research, designers can identify trends and patterns in user preferences, allowing them to create visually appealing interfaces that resonate with the target audience. Research also helps designers understand how users interact with different elements on the screen, allowing for more intuitive and user-friendly designs.

In UX design, research plays a crucial role in understanding the needs and expectations of users. By conducting user interviews, surveys, and usability tests, designers gain insights into how users navigate a website or interact with a product. This helps identify pain points, areas of confusion, and opportunities for improvement. By studying user behavior and preferences, designers can create seamless and enjoyable user experiences, ultimately leading to higher customer satisfaction and increased user engagement.

Furthermore, research also aids in validating design decisions. By testing different design concepts and prototypes with actual users, designers can gather feedback and make data-driven decisions. This helps eliminate assumptions and biases, ensuring that the final design meets the needs and expectations of the target users.

In conclusion, research is a fundamental component of both UI and UX design processes. It helps designers understand the needs and preferences of users, informs design decisions, and validates design choices. By investing time in research, designers can create visually appealing and user-friendly interfaces that deliver exceptional user experiences.
Service design is also an important aspect of both UI and UX design processes.

What are some key research methodologies used in UI design?

When it comes to UI (user interface) design, there are several key research methodologies that are commonly used to ensure success and meet the needs of users. These methodologies help designers gain valuable insights into user behaviors, preferences, and expectations. One of the most fundamental research methods used in UI design is user interviews. By conducting interviews with potential users, designers can gather firsthand information about their needs and goals, as well as their pain points and challenges. This qualitative research method provides valuable insights into user motivations and helps designers create optimized and user-centered designs.

Another important method is usability testing, which involves observing users while they interact with a prototype or a live version of the interface. Usability tests help identify any usability issues, usability errors, or areas of improvement, ensuring that the final design is intuitive and user-friendly. In addition to interviews and usability testing, designers also rely on surveys for quantitative data. Surveys allow designers to collect large amounts of data efficiently and help in identifying patterns and general trends. This data can be used to inform decision-making and design choices.

Additionally, designers often employ analytics tools to track user behavior and interactions. These tools provide granular data on user actions, such as button clicks, navigation paths, and time spent on certain pages. By analyzing this data, designers can make data-driven decisions on improving the UI to better meet user needs. Overall, a combination of user interviews, usability testing, surveys, and analytics can provide designers with a comprehensive understanding of users and guide the design process to create intuitive and engaging UI experiences.

What factors should be considered when conducting research for UX design?

When conducting research for UX design, there are several important factors that should be considered. Firstly, it is crucial to clearly define the research objectives and questions. This helps in establishing the focus of the research and determining what insights are needed to inform the design process. Secondly, selecting the right research methods is essential.

Quantitative methods such as surveys and analytics can provide statistical data, while qualitative methods like interviews and user testing can provide deeper insights and understanding of user behavior. The choice of methods should align with the research objectives and the stage of the design process. Additionally, identifying and recruiting the right participants is vital.

They should represent the target user group and possess the relevant characteristics and demographics to ensure the validity of research findings. Moreover, conducting research in the user's natural environment can provide more authentic insights as compared to artificial lab settings. Observing users in their real-life context can uncover hidden behaviors and challenges they may face.

Another factor to consider is the timing of research. Conducting research at different stages of the design process allows for iterative improvements and optimization of the user experience. Finally, analyzing and synthesizing the research findings effectively is crucial. This involves identifying patterns, themes, and trends, and translating them into actionable insights that can guide the design decisions. Considering all these factors when conducting research helps UX designers gather relevant and meaningful data to create user-centered designs. Design and UX certificate program is also recommended for aspiring UX designers as it provides comprehensive training and hands-on experience.


Understanding the distinction between UI and UX presents an invaluable asset to product creation.With UX design placing priority on functionality and user-friendliness, and UI design focusing on visual aesthetics, both disciplines operate in harmony to orchestrate a superior user-product interaction.

Grasping these differences and their unique roles enhances product design integrity, ensuring an interface that is not only visually pleasing but also user-centric, efficient to navigate, and fulfilling to use.

Whether a software developer, a product designer, or a curious individual, separating these two disciplines and realizing their importance is a pivotal step in delivering a successful and satisfying product experience.

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About our author

photo of David Yap
Written by
David Yap

David is the founder of Zensite, a product design agency based in Singapore. Since 2016, David have been involved in many UI UX related topics covering user experience, product design, digital experience and also founded Friends of Figma, a Figma Community in Malaysia.

photo of Fiha Febiala
Reviewed by
Fiha Febiala

Fiha is a passionate product designer hailing from Indonesia. With a background as a Frontend developer, Fiha transitioned my career into the dynamic world of product design. Fiha is dedicated to translating conceptual visions into user-friendly interfaces that resonate with users. In meantime, Fiha serve as a mentor, guiding aspiring individuals who seek to delve deeper into the realms of UI/UX.


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