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Difference Between UI & UX Designer

It takes many people working as a team to create a website. This article highlights the main responsibilities of two essential members of a web development team, UI designers and UX designers.

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Comparing UI Designers to UX Designers

Web development careers in user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design are both essential to the proper function and visual appeal of any quality website. Individuals in both of these positions are concerned with how a site looks and how well it works, yet they have very distinct responsibilities and challenges. The following article outlines the key similarities and differences between these two careers.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2014-2024)**
User Interface (UI) Designer Associate's Degree $64,270 21% (for all computer systems designers)
User Experience (UX) Designer Associate's Degree $72,320 -8% (for all computer programmers)

Sources: *Payscale.com and **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of UI Designers vs. UX Designers

UI and UX designers are both important members of a creative team, each using their talents and skills to help build websites. While both careers require knowledge of computer language and a foundation in the basics of design, UI designers are responsible for the way a site looks, while a UX designer's job is to make sure the pages are easily navigated by users. As members of the same team, a UI designer must be able to create visual representations of the sitemap or website prototype a UX designer has built. UI designers are primarily concerned with the overall visual communication of a website, designing each page according to a well-defined style guide to ensure a cohesive look, whereas UX designers are charged with ensuring an ordered, intuitive experience by creating a logical progression of steps as users click through the site.

UI Designer

The job of a UI designer is similar to that of a graphic artist. Using their experience in design principles, UI designers take control of the visual language of a website. They are responsible for arranging page components in a sensible, visually appealing way. They might also be tasked with choosing a color palette and typography, designing elements like tables or graphs, or manipulating photographs. UI designers should be detail oriented, able to work effectively as part of a creative team, and enjoy solving problems. Many employers look for UI designers with a solid understanding of basic computer languages, like HTML5 or JavaScript.

Job responsibilities of a UI designer include:

  • Collaborating with UX designers, web developers, copywriters, and other creative professionals
  • Presenting solutions to design challenges and defending those decisions using experience and intuition
  • Maintaining up-to-date knowledge of emerging technology, design trends, and industry standards
  • Understanding of standard design software and tools, such as Illustrator and Photoshop

UX Designer

A UX designer is primarily responsible for the technical aspects and function of a website. These professionals must have a broad range of knowledge, including psychology, design, technology, web development, business, and analytics. Often, UX designers must conduct research with potential site users to ensure a sitemap is effective and user-friendly. This research may include interviews, surveys, or usability testing. UX designers must be excellent communicators who are open to feedback from clients, users, and other team members. They must also be willing to make adjustments to projects based on constructive criticism.

Job responsibilities of a UX designer include:

  • Creating wireframes, sitemaps, mockups, and prototypes of websites that are optimized for a variety of interfaces
  • Working closely with clients to build functional websites that meet their needs
  • Maintaining a user-centered approach to design that includes relevant methods of testing and determining accessibility
  • Translating expertise in UX software and coding skills into design solutions for website users

Related Careers

Individuals interested in a career as a UI designer might like to learn more about jobs in graphic design, which also require the use of computers to create print and web layout designs for clients. Those who find the job of a UX designer intriguing may also want to consider a career as a software developer, another technology job that focuses mainly on the user experience.

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