Design that is carefully considered, with a foundation based on research and rationale can make the difference between average and amazing when it comes to websites.
We know the user experience should be an integral part of digital design and this has become segmented into specialist disciplines. User Experience design, commonly known as UX design, and User Interface design, also known as UI design. These are often terms that are used interchangeably, mainly because they are symbiotic and in a smaller team can be carried out by a single digital designer. But in reality they are distinctly different roles.
So, UX and UI design, what’s the difference?
Consider User Experience (UX design) as the skeletal structure of the website, the navigation, the overall page layouts and the positioning of important features. The User Experience designer (UX designer) will focus more on research and analytical data to understand the users of the website and structure the site in a way that appeals to those users.
Complimenting this is our User Interface design, which is the graphical skin, the style and tone of the website interface design. It represents the subtle graphic design features that make for displaying content in a compelling way, a beautiful button design or call to action. A User Interface designer (UI designer) is responsible for understanding a brands strengths and developing digital visual assets that match designs within those brand guidelines, creating an interface to best enhance the user’s experience.
So there you have it, UI and UX in a nutshell, skin and bones!
At Carbon we cover these design methodologies in our own web design processes of workshops, moodboards, wireframes and prototyping, read on if you want to know a little more.
User experience design (UX)
User experience design, also known as UX design is a methodology to enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty by improving the usability of the website pages we create. Focusing on ease of use, and the pleasure provided during the interaction between the customer and the website.
User experience provides the foundation framework for the interface design. A good user experience would take into consideration the various types of users (user groups), their demographics, wants and needs (user stories) and how they may access and navigate through a website that we would create for them (user journeys).
These are primary research topics in developing a website that factors in user experience design. When we develop websites at Carbon we take two approaches to this, our preferred route is to gather this intelligence during a web design workshop where we will pose these questions in a fun and interactive way to attendees at the workshop who would typically be decision makers and potential users.
Where it’s not possible to host a workshop with our client and end users we will undertake this work internally in a pseudo role play, putting ourselves in the mindset of the potential users and discussing the answers.
UX Design then forms part of our next processes, site information architecture, also known as page site maps, and website wireframes which are black and white sketches of the page layouts illustrating navigation, functional aspects, call to actions, buttons and general page content layout.
User interface design (UI)
User Interface design, also known as UI design for short, is a design methodology for developing the creative skin of the website. It’s a holistic approach and our designers need to be skilled in graphic design and web design.
Our UI designers are responsible not only for understanding the brand, visual identity assets and any brand guidelines that may exist but also taking forward the User Experience
Design considerations (UX) along with any pre-written content in order to create and form attractive prototype layout designs.
Our UI designers must also consider the responsive experience for users on mobile devices and how the design may need to change to meet performance expectations.
Typical projects will always involve UI Prototyping but may also consider interactivity and animation, transitions and close collaboration with front end and back end developers.