The Difference between A UX Designer and A UI Designer: Art and Social Psychology



BOOM. You read the title, you already know, time to move on with the rest of your day, right?

Okay for those of you who are unaware, UX Design and UI Design are very different things. On first observation you might note that the acronyms are different – while UX Design stands for User Experience Design, UI Design stands for User Interface Design. That’s all well and good, you say, but what does that mean?

User Interface Design has been around for a very long time, and it is an expansive part of how a website looks. Designing the interface is picking out the color scheme, typography, creation of logos, button characteristics, dropdown menus, form fields – essentially the entire feel of a website.

People who are User Interface Designers are essentially the hipsters of the web: they will always be cooler and more creative than you no matter how hard you try because they spend 8 hours a day trying to find the right shade of cyan to match the company logo. They work closely with the company they have been placed with as they need to understand the marketing and feel of the corporation as a whole.

Many UI Designers understand the importance of presentation and marketability, and know that different websites have different needs. A User Interface Designer will work closely with the UX Designer, as they both work together to capture the feel and presence of the application. The closest synonym to this would be an artist, as a User Interface Designer has the importance of bringing in the creative touch to an application.


User Experience Design is quite a new position in the world of IT, as it’s not inherently graphics related (although it can be – more on that later). This position has oriented itself through a capitalistic and user-centered market on the internet. It is vital to have someone familiar with UX Design, as these designers are responsible for the layout and structure of the website, web app, or mobile app.

Designing the experience for a user is much different that the interface, and surprisingly involves a lot of social psychology. The UX Designer primarily operates between research, creation, and validation. This designer conducts primary and secondary research in the form of user interviews and competitive analysis, taking in all of the information necessary to create or re-design the purpose of the application. Then the UX Designer pools this information and creates an organized, logical structure of the potential product. This is often called a mockup or prototype, and will then go through a series of evaluations by potential users. This is called validation and more often than not fails the first couple times it is completed.

The job of a UX Designer is cyclical, and often involves the work of a fellow UI Designer. Once finally validated (in hopefully their life and work), they will both transition the final design to the Web Developers who are in charge of making the product. The closest synonym to this would be a social psychologist, as a User Experience Designer has the importance of studying and understanding the potential actions of the user.


Some more terms you might come across:

Graphic Designer
Often synonymous with UI designer, sometimes UI designer is considered more of a frontend developer with a design background and the graphic designer takes the place of the visual creator

Interaction Designer
An interaction designer is often someone who specializes in both UX and UI design. This term is more heavily utilized in mobile design, and especially in fields such as gaming and virtual/augmented reality, as there are different potential interactions a user could take besides a click or hover.

Web Designer
A web designer is often the overarching term for all forms of design on the internet, however they may specialize in web applications or websites.

Mobile Designer
A mobile designer is an overarching term for all forms of design on a mobile platform, this could potentially expand into wearable tech.

Content Designer
A content designer is a special kind of UI Designer who specializes in the format/layout of the content (i.e. text, images, audio, video) that is presented on the page

Information Architect
An information architect is a special kind of UX Designer who specializes in the hierarchy of web/mobile applications, they are often the ones that create the internal structure or frame of a website, web app, or mobile app.


I would like to note that MANY and I mean MANY of these terms often overlap and engulf one another. Many believe that UI designers are actually more similar to frontend developers, or that a UX Designer’s position has nothing to do with the graphical representation of content on a page. These were all created from my own personal opinion and experience within the Tech Industry.


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