User Experience (UX) and User Interface Design is the hot shit these days. A quick delve into Google Trends shows that searches for UX design and UI design has been on an upward trend ever since 2010. Everyone’s interested in UX Design and UI Design but which should come first and why does it matter?

UI and UX Are Yin and Yang
UI and UX are really the Yin and Yang of any digital product – © Christopher David Ryan

So which one comes first, UX Design or UI Design and why should it matter?

I’m probably ruffle a few feathers here, but UX Design should lead UI Design because the UI is an execution of the UX Design. While user interfaces CAN be designed without any UX guiding the UI Design process, the product is essentially just form without soul. You run the risk of sinking in a massive financial and time investment in a product that neither appeals to your target user nor brings in the sales.

True UX Design Explained

This is where most people will insert some quote from some credible publication, but I say fuck it because clearly, people are still struggling to understand how what UX Design is and how/why UX is different from UI.

So here’s my definition of UX:

User Experience is what your customer FEELs when they come contact with ANY aspect your brand and product/service.

And what UX Design encompasses:

The orchestration of all the key elements of the customer’s experience coherently and sustainably

In other (simpler) words, a professional User Experience Designer is in charge of designing an experience for your customer that is enjoyable and ensure you will be able to continue providing this experience for your customers continuously and sustainably.

What True UX Design Is

True UX design considers every single point that a customer may come into contact with your brand. Even right down to the toilet paper supplied at your restaurant’s toilet. True user experience design is centered around the user so its data collected through plenty of market, user and competitor research. True UX evolves and iterates after collecting feedback. True UX design has zero ego; if the user testing results prove a design hypothesis wrong, the UX designer takes no umbrage and is excited by the prospect of reiterating the product to make it even more enjoyable to use. True UX design guides the brand design and UI design.

What True UX Design Is Not

By now you should realise that user experience design is not merely confined to the digital product sphere, it covers every aspect of your business. Let that sink in a little. So why UX Design is so inextricable from the digital product field?  CareerFoundry noted that the UX Design term was always used synonymously with digital products. When digital products became proliferate, so did the UX Design term. True UX Design is brand design either. While a UX Designer might work closely the brand designer to ensure that brand created convey the intended user experience, a true UX Designer should not be made to design branding.

True UI Design Explained

Again, there are bajillion articles on the interwebs defining UI Design, so what’s the harm of providing another?

Here’s what UI Design is to me

The placement and creation of user touchpoints to allow a user to use and experience a digital product as intended.

What this means is that the UI Designer is responsible for creating a product interface that communicates the intended user experience. Beyond ensuring the user interface is usable, true UI Design is designed with User Experience in mind. Unlike UX Design, UI Design is firmly rooted in the digital product sphere.

What True UI Design Is

True UI Design is instrumental to making the digital product a joy and pleasure to use. True UI Design takes the intended User Experience and translates it into a usable user interface. True UI Design is a technical specialisation that demands a rigorous understanding of usability principles, front end and back end programming principles, as well as keen sense of aesthetics. True UI Design melts into the background and is created to let the intended User Experience to take centre stage. True UI Design is fluid and ready to evolve together with the UX Design.

What True UI Design Is Not

True UI Design does NOT play second fiddle to UX Design, nor does not it blindly follow UX Design. True UI Design questions the UX Design process to understand and assimilate the essence into the user interface. A true UI Designer is not an Art Director either. A UI Designer should not be made to pair fonts, select brand colors or curate images. Rather, UI Design should be focused on the creation of the product interface that bears strong reference to the UX design and the branding.

So, why is it so hard to distinguish UX Design from UI Design?

The lines between UX Design and UI Design are blurred because both poles are essential to the basic creation of a digital product. Neither can the UI be created without considering the user experience nor can the product exist if there is no UI. The codependencies between each poles makes it hard to distinguish UX Design from UI Design.

Let’s Summarize

• True UX Design is not confined to the digital product sphere.
• True UX covers every aspect of your customer/user’s experience of your product/service.
• True UI Design is rooted in the digital product realm.
• True UI Design is focused on conveying the intended UX through usable interfaces.
• True UX and UI Designers do not design logos, select typefaces or colors.
• While, UX should come before UI Design, UX and UI Design are the two poles that define any digital product
• Most importantly UX Design is NOT UI Design!

Phew!