What is the Difference Between UX and UI Designers?

5 mins

Which category do you fall into?:

  1. Are you looking to recruit UX or UI designers?
  2. Or are you deciding which field to specialise in as a designer yourself?

Either way, it’s entirely possible you’ve already fallen victim to one huge misconception that’s present across the industry. One that leads to an ongoing (and completely inaccurate) belief that these two roles are often interchangeable. 

This is not the case.

Are UX and UI designers the same?

Take a moment to scroll through any job board and you’ll see hundreds of businesses recruiting for a job title of “UX/UI Designer”.  

It’s concerning.

These two roles are incredibly complex and unique in their own way, and should always be advertised as two separate entities. Why?

They need different skillsets.

While, admittedly, UX and UI Designers often do get lumped together - working within the same team of an organisation - there are core differences between the two. 

Understanding the differences between UI and UX designers

Whether you’re an employer in the technology field looking to recruit designers for your development team, or a candidate hunting for a job... there’s something you need to know. 

Imagine there’s a website that’s close to completion. The basic structure is there, the content already exists, and you know exactly what the CTA is going to be. If you were to hand one identical copy of this website to a UX Designer, and one identical copy to a UI Designer, the result would look completely different. 

That’s not just because we’re all creative and innovative in our unique way, either (although this does play a part). 

It’s because UX Designers and UI Designers have completely different priorities. In many cases, the outcome of their work would be completely incomparable. 

What is UX design?

Quite simply, UX design is the intentional design of a digital product to create the best possible end-user experience. 

The job role of UX designers

For the most part, UX Designers will spend time strategising and researching their audience to make rational design decisions. 

They might spend their day:

  • Getting into the mindset of your users.
  • Understanding each element of their behaviour.
  • Becoming knowledgeable about their goals, wants, and needs.

Then, they will carefully consider the way your audience might think and feel as they navigate your software platforms, websites, and mobile applications - doing design work accordingly. 

What is UI design?

On the other hand, UI design is the intentional design based entirely on the appearance and functionality of each user interface. 

For instance, they might put a button where it makes the most sense visually (rather than where is most convenient for the user, which is what a UX Designer would prioritise).

The job role of UI Designers

That’s not to say UI Designers don’t care about your users, though. A huge part of their job role is to:

  1. Understand user behaviour.
  2. Reflect on the interactive elements of your software.
  3. Help users achieve their goals in the most efficient way possible.

As such, they will spend the majority of their time reflecting on the interactive elements of a digital product (such as CTAs or pop-ups) to best guide your users on their journey.

The key difference between UX and UI Designers

UX Designers want their audience to think and feel as they use software. UI Designers, however, look to create a layout that requires no thought at all. 

Do I need UX Designers or UI Designers?

For the most part, the answer is not entirely clear-cut. 

But, if you have the potential to, always recruit or contract a specialist in each.

Why? 

Well, let’s revisit that website we had you imagine - the one that’s almost ready to launch.

In this instance, UX Designers would pay attention to improving customer satisfaction levels, while UI Designers are going to focus on getting the best website quality score from Google.

Both could prove incredibly useful to the success of your organisation. So, the combination of both these roles on your development team would cover each other’s weaknesses and result in a high-performing website. 

How to recruit UX and UI Designers

Depending on your decision and your resources, there's one easy best practice you should always follow when recruiting for either of these roles.

Don't lump them together. 

Specialist UX Designers aren’t going to be wanting to do the work of UI Designers, and vice versa. If you don’t make it clear in your job advertisement that you understand the differences between the two, then they might be discouraged from sending in their application.

Simply by treating each role as a separate entity and being really specific with each position’s work expectations, you can prove your expertise and position yourself as a knowledgeable employer. One that doesn’t have unrealistic expectations for their new recruit. 

How to find a job in UX and UI design

Alternatively, if you're a candidate looking for jobs in either UX and UI Design, remember this. You don’t have to blur the lines between the two when you're looking for work. It's not your responsibility to do two people's jobs. Recognise any business that advertises a “UX/UI Designer” as a possible red flag, and be sure to ask for further clarification on the matter before applying. 

Recruiting innovative technology talent through OHO

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We’re excited to be driving UK innovation. Where there’s a plan, we have the people.

We’re an established and respected consultancy that offers a range of specialist services to a broad spectrum of clients and candidates within the IT, Electronic Engineering, Finance and Consultancy sectors.

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