When one sets out to become a designer, it is not immediately clear on how to go about it. Most designers start out by simply having an interest in the design of objects or simply having a sharp hand in drawing and sketching.
This marks out the beginning of experimentation by the prospect and the need for one to express themselves better calls for tools to do so.
When the whole process has gone full circle, the student has already interacted with Photoshop, HTML, CSS and some coding languages and tried designing and building websites.
In the professional sense, it is not immediately clear what one should pursue since the job descriptions for a Web Designer and a UI/UX designer seem to vary but are mostly the same on many fronts.
It is therefore imperative that the designer is knowledgeable so that they are capable of handling an interview and eventually the job itself when the opportunity comes up.
Understanding the Definitions First
To begin with, the definitions of a web designer and a UI/UX designer are different.
Most of the time in their work they will receive templates of what to build from their superiors and for small projects will come up with a concept of their own.
They are usually up to date with recent technologies and designs and employ these to achieve their goals.
On the other hand, the UI/UX designer is a designer with two roles attached to their job title. First, the UI stands for User interface and the professional requirements are similar to what a web designer does.
What separates a web designer from a UI/UX designer is the UX, which simply means user experience. This means that the primary role of the designer is in the interest of how a user or customer will interact with the website and the natural expectation is to improve this experience.
This means tons of research on user behavior, coming up with information architecture that works, testing the utility of the proposed design and employing a content strategy that is effective.
Successful UI/UX designer are able to understand the psychology of the client at hand and plan on how to meet the needs of the target audience.
Having understood the user requirements that need to be met the UI/UX will either delve into the designing part of the project but in most cases, they delegate this to a web designer to implement.
Wireframes are the preferred mode of communication between the UI/UX designer and Web developer but in some cases a template is created for this purpose.
It is imperative to note that the job of the UI/UX designer does not stop with the designing of the website since they have to do more research on customers to further improve the experience.
Having covered the main differences let us now have a look at the specifics and interaction in the work place.
Utility vs Aesthetics
The main aspects of User experience is to address the business needs that the website will be addressing.
This means that the UI/UX designer will mainly look at the needs of clients that competitors did not meet and strive to meet these needs. This may involve conducting research, developing a prototype and doing a validation test.
When the product offering has passed the validation, the UI/UX designer will pass the designs to the web designer who is responsible for creating the aesthetics of the website. The web designer will mostly refer to the personas developed by the UI/UX designer and choose typography, color schemes and design layout to match the requirements.
The successful product that results from the whole process is a visual hierarchy that lets the user easily interact with the webpages and lets the user accomplish different tasks with ease.
The use of familiar icons and design elements that have the proper usage pattern is integral to this process.
User Experience is Goal Oriented While Web Design Focuses on Customer Satisfaction
The user experience has to meet the goal of the client to have any success. This is in relation to the fact that web users go online with a goal in mind.
If users come to your website, they will come to achieve something. It maybe to buy a product, pay taxes or find information and the UI/UX designer has to tailor solutions that fit with the prospective user.
An example would be the design process of an ecommerce website. The UI/UX designer will look at the spending patterns of users online, find out how to best appeal to online shoppers and implement strategies that best serve customer needs.
Once this process is completed, the user requirements are passed on to the web designer who will translate this into a user interface that has appeal to the target clients.
User Experience is a Business Process While Web Design is a Technical Process
It is now evident from the descriptions above that UX is a multifaceted broad process that aims to validate building a website in the first place.
It is important to look at how the process was implemented in the past to understand the rise of UI/UX designing.
When businesses started occupying the web space, the initial requirements were few to succeed. A website was merely an address for most companies to present their information for clients.
As time moved on it became apparent that success was not as simple as initially and the business case for online had to be implemented.
The people who were business oriented were the first to try to solve the business case for web but the lack of technical knowhow limited their participation.
This marked the rise of UI/UX designers, individuals who were equip with an understanding of how to build a website and how to solve problems associated with the business case.
For the web design aspect of the equation, the progression has taken a different road. From the initial designs meant for websites, today we can witness various gadgets that require a user interface including watches, washing machines, car dashboard and even vending machines.
Different technologies have also improved the options of implementation and increased interactivity.
Different Skill Sets
The skills one needs to develop to excel in each of the careers is different. To begin with the UI/UX designer in his/her capacity to solve client side problems need to have a psychological grasp of how users think to meet their needs.
The individual also needs to have a conceptual approach to solving problems. He/She needs to come up with a concept, represent it in the best communicable format for proper communication with the Business owners as well as the web designer.
For the web designer an eye for aesthetics is important to be able to know what colors will appeal to the client, choose the best typography and select the best layout that will have the intended outcome when the client interacts with the interface.