You see the terms ‘UX Design / UI Design’ dropped around the web design universe like they are some kind of mysteriously interdependent dual-pronged torpedo in the armour of every web project team.
UX Design means ‘User eXperience Design’ and UI Design means ‘User Interface Design’. That’s the easy bit.
You could be forgiven for assuming that they are almost the same discipline and that if you are a user experience designer you must also be a user interface designer.
From my research I conclude that UX design is the deeper picture, it covers all aspects which affect the overall ‘user experience’. This could include everything from brand perception to the actual user interface to the quality of language used in the copy-writing to what information is displayed to users and many more things in between.
UI design deals specifically with the user interface. This includes the ‘look and feel’ as well as functional decisions such as ‘how do we indicate to the user that this button has been pressed?’ as well as structure and layout of interface elements. Therefore, the UI is very important in the overall ‘user experience’ however it is just one aspect in the bigger picture that contributes to UX.
Do the UX and UI designer’s roles crossover?
Depending on the size of the project or organisation, the UX Designer could be seperate from the UI Designer. Often the roles crossover and are covered by one person. On larger projects there can be a whole UX team, though I have yet to work with one. More often, in my experience, is that UX is covered by the web designers, the developers, the project managers and the business analyst. Having experienced this approach (too many cooks) I can see the benefit of having one person who is focused entirely on UX Design.
What it all stems from and points to is: ‘user centred design’. That is something that every project should have at the core of its objectives. As a web designer, I am not a UX specialist but am aware of the importance of UX considerations and how the UI relates to that.
Further rescources about UX Design:
http://mashable.com/2009/01/09/user-experience-design/ – comprehensive list dispelling myths about UX Design…
http://www.uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2010/03/ux-design-versus-ui-development.php – more in depth info about UX design…