What You Need to Know About UX vs. UI for App Development

When designing a mobile app, prioritizing UX is essential. That said, UI is an equally important part of good native appdesign. If you don’t work in the field of software and app development, you may wonder what the difference is. Many people mistakenly use the terms UX and UI interchangeably. However, they actually refer to distinct elements of a mobile app, both of which play a crucial role in attracting and retaining users.

Understanding the Role of UX

UX is short for “user experience.” When a customer uses your app, the processes should be intuitive and simple.

The UX designer works behind the scenes to ensure a smooth experience for all users. Thus, you’re unlikely to even notice the quality of a UX designer’s work unless it’s poor. You expect an app to be easily understandable; you’ll only pay attention to the general user experience if it’s confusing and flawed.

To ensure a quality UX, designers study industry best practices, research user behavior, and take other necessary steps to better understand what customers are looking for in an app.

What a UI Designer Does

UI refers to the app’s “user interface.” The UI designer is essentially responsible for the concrete visual elements of the program. This includes typography, graphics, color scheme, widgets, buttons, and more.

The discipline of UI design can be compared to graphic design, where every discrete visual element must contribute to a consistent overall style. UI designers take on the added challenge of designing visuals that are interactive in nature: when a user clicks on a button, it needs to do something other than simply look appealing.
How They Differ

Both UX and UI designers play critical roles in the app development process, and often coordinate with each other to ensure the finished product is cohesive.

UX designers are particularly focused on making sure a user is able to complete specific tasks within an app. A visually-appealing product won’t succeed if customers can’t figure out how to use it for its intended purpose.

In this respect, UX is a science. Designers study their goals to determine the most logical way for an app’s processes to flow. Users should never be confused about what steps they should take next to complete a task. Even if they’re not confused, too many steps can result in a cumbersome UX – simplicity and efficiency are paramount.

UI design is more of an art than a science. The UX designer determines what a person actually experiences when using a specific feature. Meanwhile, the UI designer determines how that experience will look and feel. The app should be useful, but it should also “feel good” to use.

Both roles are critical. Quality UX ensures that users intuitively understand how an app functions without reading through instructions, while quality UI ensures that they enjoy the overall experience. Although there is a lot of overlap in their goals, UI designers and UX designers approach their jobs from different starting points. When they both do their jobs well, the result is an app that looks good and serves a legitimate purpose for the user.


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