Just about everybody associated with web and app design has a thing or two to say about user experience (UX) design. Typically, the use of the term highlights the designing of digital offerings such as websites and apps. However, is UX design just web and mobile app design?
UX design encompasses all the design elements that depend on human interaction. For instance, modern-day car manufacturers rely increasingly on UX. This aspect also plays a role with products you use every day, examples of which include your microwave, washing machine, and even your wristwatch. If a microwave oven does not heat your food quickly enough, it delivers a negative user experience.
Table Of Contents
Is UX Design More Than Web Design?
One of the primary roles of a UX designer is to carry out user research. This provides insight into the behavior, needs, motivations, goals, and pain points of an audience. In the absence of suitable research, creating a good user experience is nearly impossible. Overall, UX designers have to account for the efficiency of customer interactions, while aiming to deliver results seamlessly and effortlessly.
UX design combines various elements, which include user/market research, understating the psychology of a target audience, web design, graphic design, and interface design. So, the answer to the question, “Is UX design more than web design?” is a simple yes. However, using the term UX design to refer solely to any specialization connected with website and app design is incorrect.
Web designers from a decade or two ago did not understand the importance of user experience, which is why they paid little attention to this aspect. As user experience and usability started gaining ground, an increasing number of web designers started learning how to approach user research and other UX-related techniques. Soon enough, several web designers made the switch and became UX designers.
Is There a Similarity Between UX and Web Design?
There are several similarities between the roles of UX and web designers. For instance, web designers tend to focus on aesthetics. They balance elements such as typography, imagery, and colors in a cohesive manner. UX designers also account for aesthetic value, although they pay equal attention to functionality.
When it comes to focusing on the front end, web designers often deal with coding as well as creating visual components by using programs such as Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. UX designers also need to pay attention to the front end, although they work in mapping out experiences by using prototyping software such as Adobe XD.
Both, web and UX designers need to have effective communication skills as their work usually involves collaborating with others. They also need to come equipped with skills such as active listening, problem-solving, and out-of-the-box thinking.
Looking to Grow Your Brand Online?Request a Quote
What About the Differences?
The web design vs. UX design comparison becomes simpler to understand if you look at the differences between the two. For starters, the latter moves beyond what appears on the screen, and takes into account experiences that do not limit to the online world. It addresses a user’s journey and the different emotions that are part of the process. It also explores the relationship between online and physical worlds, looking at the impact it has on user experience.
Unlike traditional web design which is typically brand-centric, UX website design pays more attention to users. Researching users and testing usability are very important elements of UX design. UX designers use these techniques regularly to validate the solutions they implement and to formulate quick changes. They understand that their work is more about the people who will use their offerings as opposed to what they’re actually designing.
Empathy has a role to play in answering the question, “Is UX design more than web design?” Without empathy, UX designers cannot put themselves into the shoes of others. Since UX has much to do with creating favorable experiences, you may regard empathy as an important part of a good UX designer’s arsenal. In addition, UX designers should be adept at creating personas that help them connect with their target audience.
There are instances when web designers create mock-ups. However, they tend to steer clear of wireframes and prototyping which are important aspects of UX design. This process provides a deeper understanding of existing and probable problems, giving UX designers the ability to test ideas and implement solutions before the final launch.
What further separates UX designers from web designers is that the former can come from diverse backgrounds such as web design, web development, marketing, graphic design, psychology, and architecture. So, is a UX designer a web designer? Well, while it’s easy for a UX designer to make the cut as a web designer, the opposite is not as simple.
Are Web Designers Still Around?
If you delve further into the web designer vs. UX designer comparison, you’ll notice that the term “web designer” has fallen out of use in recent times, which is not without reason. Until around a decade or so ago, the job profile of a web designer included ideating, designing visuals, and addressing front-end development. With time, the online medium has evolved and become increasingly complex, leading to the creation of various job titles. Now, designers no longer look at websites as mere platforms of marketing, making the role of a traditional web designer near-obsolete.
What Makes a UX Designer?
With several business models being completely online, the role of a UX designer is very crucial. While there are overlaps between web design and UX design, the latter is distinctly different from disciplines such as visual design, interface design, and interaction design. UX designers need to approach their projects with a holistic approach, making sure they have their eyes set on the big picture.
There is more to UX design than designing logos, choosing the right colors, and integrating different elements. However, these are aspects that do not miss the attention of a good UX designer.
The role of UX designers does not restrict to any one set of guidelines. They might carry out research, analyze data, interview different stakeholders, use their findings to formulate ideas, and put their products through a testing phase. UX designers are typically involved throughout the design process, having to collaborate with other design and development disciplines.
Incidentally, it is not uncommon for people who do not really do UX design to refer to themselves as UX designers. This is because of various reasons.
- The company they work for does not know what the job title entails.
- They are unaware of the scope of the discipline.
- They are responsible for managing some of the role’s associated duties.
Looking To Boost Your eCommerce Business Online?Request a Quote
Keeping Up With Changing Times
Good web designers who have managed to successfully make the transition to UX designers have several things in common. For starters, they familiarize themselves with the basics of UX design and understand its progression over time. Other than offering valuable insight into the discipline, the process also gives designers an indication of where they stand and the skill sets they need to acquire.
Once a designer knows which skills he/she needs, opportunities to further one’s knowledge are not hard to find. Online courses are easily available. Attending meetups, interacting with UX designers they know, mapping new ideas, and tinkering with various programs are other ways web designers can build on their existing skill set.
Different Roles in the UX World
UX roles tend to vary from one project to the next, given that every project comes with its unique requirements. It is possible to define these roles based on factors such as support from management, budget, industry, organizational culture, legacy, timeframe, a team’s combined experience, software complexity, as well as personal opinion.
What complicates matters even more is that implementing commonly listed best practices is possible in different ways. Fortunately, there is some consistency when it comes to the roles surrounding user experience in web and mobile app design.
- Project manager. The role of a project manager is to plan, organize, and take charge of a project. Handling a team and addressing different UX-related aspects is part of the parcel.
- Researcher. The role of a researcher is to carry out interviews and analyze user behavior.
- Information architect. An information architect looks into how to organize content and menu labels, and how a site’s search should operate.
- Visual designer. A visual designer addresses aspects such as layout, typography, graphics, color, visual effects, texture, and mood.
- Interaction designer. Interaction designers determine where different screens should appear within an app, as well as user flow. They might use real-life paradigms to create transitions between screens.
- Content specialist. Other than copywriting, a content specialist also pays attention to how content appears on different devices, and creates microcopy for buttons and headings.
- Online marketer. Online marketers associated with UX focus on aspects such as email campaigns, sales copy, search engine optimization, web analytics, and conversion rates.
The roles listed above are neither definitive nor conclusive. In some cases, more than one individual might handle a specific role. In other instances, a single person might take on more than one role.
UX Beyond Visuals
Since user experience does not limit to visuals, good UX designers need to account for other environments as well. For example, while visual design depends largely on visuals, an auditory design would depend more on linguistics. Tools used in creating a good auditory user experience would vary as well and may consider aspects such as vocabulary, content, syntax, pitch, tone, rate of speech, silence, and loudness.
When you move beyond visuals, the answer to the question “Is UX design more than web design?” becomes clearer still. After all, with a change in technology and a user’s perceptual or sensory modality comes a requirement for a different skill set. Besides, the way we define usability also experiences a change.
When it comes to auditory designs, factors such as a script’s efficiency, customer behaviors, the nature of the voice, and verbosity play a role in determining usability. Jakob Nielsen’s 10 popular principles for interaction design, on the other hand, touch upon completely different aspects. What’s common between UX designs for both mediums, though, is that the process requires carrying out research, creating a prototype, formulating an iterative design, and testing usability.
Common Steps in UX Design
Before a digital agency begins work on a UX design, it is important to understand the problem it aims to solve. The following steps typically follow:
- User research. This helps determine who the users are, what they expect from your offerings, how they interact with your brand, and where they are most likely to use your offerings. This stage gives UX designers a trove of valuable information.
- Create user personas. After getting insight into a target audience, the agency uses the information to create user personas. Depending on your target demographic, there might be one or more personas. The idea behind creating these personas is to effectively deliver user goals.
- Sketch. This stage might involve sketches, flowcharts, and wireframes to discuss possible scenarios with stakeholders. This step also includes testing and evaluating wireframes.
- Design. With the layout and interface flow in place, the next step involves working on different visual elements. Designers bring mockups and wireframes to life using high-quality imagery, while paying due attention to aspects such as typography, colors, and iconography. The development team is usually a part of this stage.
- Implementation. Given that the development team is onboard by this stage, it may start implementing the design. It can focus on back-end functionality at first, and then connect with the user interface when it gets the required design elements. With inputs from the design team, minor changes are easy to address at this stage.
Looking to Boost Your Business Online?Request a Quote
Is UX design just web and mobile app design? Not quite, because you can find UX design in other realms too. However, creating great websites and apps is no longer about having a great design with eye-catching visuals, but about creating positive user experiences. Now, more than ever, it is paramount to ensure that your audience has a good experience when browsing your website or app, and you also need to understand how UX and UI work together. If you don’t have the required technical expertise, partnering with a professional might be in your best interest.