There’s a lot of overlap in user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design. UI is an integral part of the wider UX process: the UX designer maps out the user journey and the UI designer then fills it in with visual and interactive elements. Logically then, it would make sense to follow that same order when learning to become a UI/UX or product designer, right?! The reality is, while the design process does generally start with UX, it’s also a lot harder to learn without first having some grounding in UI.
If we zoom out and think about UI design’s application in the real world, we're surrounded by it. It's what we see first. It's how we know not to make a left turn at an intersection, which button means power on/off, how to find our gate at an airport terminal...truly the list is endless. UI design is what first impressions are based off of: colors, imagery, fonts, etc. are put together to evoke a particular thought or emotion, or drive a certain behavior. Once you collect enough visual evidence of a pattern, you can form a hypothesis around expected behavior. For example, the color red is typically used to alert someone of an error, warning, or danger (like a STOP sign).
Here’s a handy chart that highlights the differences between UX and UI design:
In order to understand human behavior and how to drive intended behaviors, one must first understand what contributes to this behavior. Usually, these are the things that are first experienced through sight, sound, smell, and/or touch. Learning UI before UX is important because it allows you to practice observation, pattern recognition, and behaviors based on patterns. Working backwards through the understanding of UI will open the gates to designing a better overall UX design.
The Benefits of Learning UX and UI Design
There are many benefits of learning both UX and UI design, including increasing your earning potential and career prospects, improving users’ quality of life, and helping to provide solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems.
Here are some of the separate and specific benefits to learning UX design and UI design...
The Benefits of Learning UX Design
You’ll benefit from learning UX design specifically, because it will enable you to:
- Better understand your users and the problems you’re aiming to solve
- Create designs that are not only beautiful, but functional too
- Develop apps, websites, and products more quickly
- Validate concepts through building, testing, and iterating
- Drive business growth and increased sales for your company/clients
The Benefits of Learning UI Design
You’ll benefit from learning UI design specifically, because it will enable you to:
- Better understand the basics of color theory, typography, and imagery
- Express yourself artistically, but within existing design patterns
- Master giving and receiving design critique well
- Tackle interesting and new problems as design constantly evolves
- Stand out competitively with beautiful—and invisible—designs