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UI vs UX vs Graphic Design: A Guide to Digital Design

The term “Design” is easily defined as the creation of a plan for the construction of an object, system or measurable human interaction. That’s ...

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The term “Design” is easily defined as the creation of a plan for the construction of an object, system or measurable human interaction. That’s a pretty simple term to grasp, however it changes connotation within different fields of work. There are interior designers to make your home look awesome or famous fashion designers who design clothes people love.

But what about the digital world? That’s where the term seems to get a little difficult to define. Digital designers today are referred to as UI, UX, graphic or even IxD or AI designers. Wait, what’s up with all the acronyms? This is where it gets confusing. So we decided to clear things up.

Graphic Design

Let’s start off with the most well know kind of design, Graphic Design. We usually tend to think of graphic design as the conventional visuals designer. Its one of the most prevalent ways of putting ideas into the form of images, videos, graphics and like. Graphic Designers choose colors, fonts and arrange elements into layouts. That is why they are also known as Visual or Communication Designers.

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These kind of designers however, don’t fall completely under the digital category because they create designs for websites, digital signage/ads and mobile apps. As well as for printed materials like ads, book covers, brochures, magazines and so on. Therefore their work is static and non-interactive when compared to other designers. Graphic designers don’t look at how screens link to others or how a user interacts with the final product. They rather focus on crafting beautiful visual elements and collaborating with copywriters to ensure that the typography meets branding standards and captivates users.

Simply put, graphic design is about the way things look and if it engages customers. The demand for a Graphic Designer has increased by 7% from last year considering how useful they are for marketing, but they can’t necessarily do what UI and UX designers do without additional training.

Technology Used: Photoshop, Sketch, Illustrator, Corel Draw

UX Design

UX Design refers to User Experience and its somewhat common to graphic design. Both designers focus on user emotions, are creative thinkers and create mockups & wireframes. However, UX design is particularly connected with the experience every user has with the product. A UX designer will make sure that product components intuitively flow from one stage to the other. Experienced UX professionals research user behavior before building the product. They will perform a competitive analysis, conduct user interviews, create personas and wireframes among others to know about the users.

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Once research is complete, the product is built and launched, but their job doesn’t end there. After launching, UX designers perform usability testing to identify any errors or stumbling blocks that occur during product interaction and refine them for optimal user experience. It is important to mention here that UX designers don’t focus on the product’s visual work. Rather, they worry about what user’s will see if they click on a particular button. Will a popup generate immediately or just before a visitor leaves the site? How many clicks will it take to redirect users to other inner pages? Basically, UX designers are constantly finding ways to ensure that the end product meets the user’s key needs.

User Experience designers are a key component for website and app design because if your website or app is difficult to use, then you will lose users quickly. On the other hand, if they have a great experience, they’re more likely to come back or refer people to your website or app.

Technology Used: Sketch, Illustrator, Fireworks, InVision, Axure, Mockplus

UI Design

Last but not least, UI Design focuses on User Interface and its quickly gaining momentum. UI and UX sometimes get pinned against each other, but realistically they compliment each other. The difference is that unlike UX, UI designers focus on how the product looks. They are in charge of designing each screen on an app or page on a website in accordance with a UX designer’s wireframes.

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Additionally, UI design specifically pertains to the design of interactive elements exclusively in digital media, such as on a computer, tablet or smartphone. Interactive elements are: drop down menus, text fields, animations, button styling, breadcrumbs, sliders, pagination, icons, notifications, messages boxes etc. These are just a few key components of a website or app and UI design looks at every component that lets user complete a task on a website or app. That’s quite a lot of work.

In this sense UI is similar to graphic design because it relates to the way components are used and interact with the product’s look. But, a UI designer has to go beyond static designs and stylize the wireframes to have the product make sense. For example, the interface of an iPhone lets you send a text by tapping the blue arrow button or send other media using the grey arrow. Both arrows easily let you know which does what. Androids and iPhones have different interface designs, yet both let you do tasks easily and therefore result in a positive user experience. That’s all thanks to UX and UI designers.

However, UI design goes a little further by creating a cohesive style guide and ensuring that a consistent design is applied across the product. Maintaining consistency and defining behavior also falls under the responsibility of a UI designer. After launching, UI continues to work with UX to improve or strengthen user experience.

Technology Used: Photoshop, Sketch, Illustrator, Fireworks

Decoding Designers

If you want your website or app to do well in the market then it is crucial to  pay extra attention to design and functionality. What catches the eye can enter heart and mind…but only if it can function correctly. So, it is just as critical to have a graphic designer make the product look awesome while at the same let UX and UI designers make it user-friendly and highly functional. Combining the roles of Graphic, UI and UX design can actually turn out to be a dream team. Each kind of designer offers their own set of skills that can only compliment your product. 

Here at Iblesoft, we personally use all 3 to build our software solutions because we know how important they are to every project. In the end, its not an extra expense, but rather an investment. There are numerous other designers out there like:

Information Architecture (AI) – focuses on a website’s structure and content organization.

Interaction Designer (IxD) – focuses on the interaction between the user and the product and builds a bridge between UI and UX.

Product Designer – can create the look and feel of a product using minimal front-end coding, design interfaces or create visuals.

RESOURCES

Need designer resources for your next project? IbleSoft believes in high quality product development so we offer tools like UX and UI designers that you can hire as a resource. We also offer our own website and app development services with skilled Graphic, UI and UX designers complimenting every step of the process. If you’d like to know more about our Resources Click Here or Contact Our Consultants!

Make your project look and feel awesome with Iblesoft…Our business is your solution.     

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