UX and UI focus on the user-facing aspects of digital products or platforms. UX and UI designers often work closely together on projects. However, their jobs differ in scope and responsibilities.
UI designers have a narrower focus than their UX peers. They concentrate on creating visually appealing and functionally sound interfaces. For example, UI specialists design, place and test buttons, banners, navigation bars and content. The exact components they work with vary depending on the project and platform. Additionally, user interface (UI) design brings concepts together from information architecture, interaction design and visual design.
UX designers are typically more concerned with the big picture. They are also responsible for creating a user experience design that includes a step-by-step user flow (micro view) and the end-to-end user journey (macro view). They ensure the products are visually appealing. They also look at whether the site or app meets customers’ needs and provides them with the information and value they expect.
For example, UX designers use interaction design (IxD) to create a relationship or connection between users and products and services using elements such as text, visuals, animations, sounds and physical objects.
Before creating the design process, UX specialists engage in user research and analysis through focus groups, market research and performance analytics to define the needs and expectations of the audience. They then work with the development and design teams, such as graphic designers, to meet those demands.
Though UX design is associated with the digital domain, companies selling physical products and face-to-face service providers can also have user-experience specialists on staff.
UI designers follow a common development framework for testing and troubleshooting their designs. They work with developers to create prototypes or make updates and debug them before publication.
UX designers often take a more analytical approach to problem-solving. They work with analytics, conduct market research and come up with solutions to deal with low engagement, low conversion rates and user complaints. UX designers may use strategies like A/B testing to choose the best solution for better performance.
Some UX and UI design responsibilities overlap. For example, the two specialists may work together to test visual designs and interfaces to see which are most effective.
This process of developing and testing interfaces and overall experiences is known as design thinking. It guides the plans, activities and processes of both UI and UX designers.
Design thinking involves following a specific process to build intuitive interfaces and experiences that meet users’ needs.
Only after this process does the design get published or fully implemented on the site, app or system.
Design thinking is a human-centered approach to problem-solving that’s particularly valuable in UX and UI design. Here are examples of design thinking in both fields:
Empathy and user research: Designers start by empathizing with users. They conduct interviews, surveys and observations to understand their needs. For instance, a designer working on a mobile app might interview potential users to understand their pain points and desires. This data informs the design process.
Persona development: Creating user personas is a design thinking activity. It involves synthesizing research data into fictional characters that represent different user types. For example, in e-commerce, a persona could be “Sarah, a busy working mom,” which helps the team design with Sarah’s needs in mind.
User journey mapping: Designers map out the entire user journey, visualizing each step a user takes to accomplish a task. This reveals pain points, allowing designers to identify areas for improvement. A banking app designer might map the journey of opening a new account, identifying bottlenecks.
Ideation and prototyping: Design thinking encourages brainstorming and rapid prototyping. Designers generate numerous ideas and create low-fidelity prototypes to test with users. In a social media platform, this could involve sketching out different comment and share features.
User testing and feedback: Designers conduct user testing, observe how users interact with the product and gather feedback. This feedback loop informs iterative design improvements. For a healthcare app, testers might provide insights on how to make symptom tracking more intuitive.
Visual hierarchy: Designers use design thinking to establish a visual hierarchy that guides users’ attention. On an e-commerce website, they might use size, color and contrast to emphasize product images and the “Add to Cart” button.
Consistency and familiarity: UI design thinking involves maintaining consistency in design elements, such as buttons, icons and fonts. This ensures users can quickly learn and navigate a system. For a navigation menu, designers might use common iconography for “home,” “settings” and “search.”
Typography and readability: When designing a news app, design thinking considers typography choices for readability. This involves selecting fonts, font sizes, line spacing and line length that make reading articles a comfortable experience.
Interactive elements: Designers think about how interactive elements, like buttons and sliders, respond to user input. For a music streaming app, design thinking would involve making sure the play/pause button is easily tappable and provides visual feedback when pressed.
User flow and navigation: Designers apply design-thinking principles to create intuitive user flow and navigation. On an e-learning platform, this could involve designing a clear path for users to access course materials and track their progress.
Design thinking is a holistic approach that considers not only the visual aspects of UI but also the user’s entire journey and experience in UX. It emphasizes empathy, iteration and a deep understanding of the end users, leading to better-designed products and interfaces.
Here are real-life examples that illustrate how UX and UI design impact products and services:
These examples and case studies demonstrate how UX and UI design impact the success and adoption of products and services, often leading to improved user satisfaction and increased engagement.
UX and UI design come with their set of common challenges. Here are some of the challenges designers often face in these fields:
Both UX and UI designers need to collaborate and address these challenges to create a successful and user-friendly product or service. Additionally, the rapid evolution of technology and user expectations makes staying up to date on design trends and best practices a continuous challenge.
UX designers must have a blend of technical and creative skills. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which puts all web developers and digital designers in the same category, suggests that employers may prefer a bachelor’s degree but may be willing to hire an applicant who can demonstrate sufficient skills through a portfolio of work.
A bachelor’s degree in IT, including a computer science degree program, can provide an understanding of the technical aspects of UX design. A four-year degree program allows you to build a strong knowledge base and create a robust portfolio to show potential employers during the application process.
According to BLS data from May 2022, web and digital interface designers, which include UX pros, earned an annual salary between $43,100 and $166,180. Salary factors include location, size of employer, work experience and more.
Salary ranges are not specific to students or graduates of University of Phoenix. Actual outcomes vary based on multiple factors, including prior work experience, geographic location and other factors specific to the individual. University of Phoenix does not guarantee employment, salary level or career advancement. BLS data is geographically based. Information for a specific state/city can be researched on the BLS website.
According to September 2022 projections from BLS, the job market for web developers and digital interface designers, a category that includes UX professionals, is projected to expand by 16% between 2022 and 2032. This translates to an estimated 19,000 job openings per year.
BLS Occupational Employment Projections, 2022-2032 is published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This data reflects BLS’ projections of national (not local) conditions. These data points are not specific to University of Phoenix students or graduates.
In addition to a degree in a computer or design-related subject, students interested in UI can build knowledge through a certificate program. These short-term courses can also build in-demand job skills.
If you’re interested in learning related skills, University of Phoenix can help teach how to apply computer science theory to real-world business problems. For example, the University of Phoenix Bachelor of Science in Computer Science program prepares students to analyze complex computing problems and apply development principles to produce computing-based solutions. Graduates gain skills that apply to a range of business IT needs and are prepared to pursue similar occupations to UX designers, such as software developers and computer consultants.
Students can also apply IT certificates to their computer science degree or pursue them as stand-alone certificates. For example, the University offers an Advanced Software Developer Certificate that covers topics ranging from introduction to software engineering and software architecture to C++ programming.
This is just a glimpse of what University of Phoenix has to offer in the field of computer science and IT. Explore what other IT programs are available!