UI/UX – What the heck is that?

I have a friend who codes. Isn’t that just a cool sentence? While in college I met my friend who I now consider a great mentor. He asked me awhile go what I wanted to do within the tech field that I was showing interest in and my response was “I like to make things look pretty, I hate when an app looks ugly but has great features”. His response was “Aw, you’ll get into the UI/UX field”.

I had no idea what that meant, and I’m guessing maybe you don’t either. UX Design refers to the term User Experience Design, while UI Design stands for User Interface Design. These two things go hand in hand. But despite their professional relationship, the roles themselves are quite different, referring to very different parts of the process and the design discipline.Where UX Design is a more analytical and technical field, UI Design is closer to what we refer to as graphic design, though the responsibilities are somewhat more complex.

If you imagine a product as the human body, the bones represent the code which give it structure. The organs represent the UX design: measuring and optimizing against input for supporting life functions. And UI design represents the cosmetics of the body–its presentation, its senses and reactions.  Let’s break down each one for some clarification.

What is User Experience Design?

User experience design (UX or UED) is the process of enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty by improving the usability, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the customer and the product.

The role of UX can be challenging and multi-faceted : part marketer, part designer, part project manager. Ultimately the aim is to connect business goals to user’s needs through a process of testing and refinement to that which satisfies both sides of the relationship. Here’s some duties a UX designer might do any given day.

Wire Frames

A wireframe—a rough guide for the layout of a website or app—is the deliverable most famously associated with being a UX Designer.

User Testing

Sitting users in front of your website or app and asking them to perform tasks you’ve planned for them while they think out loud is the fundamental premise of user testing. How many test participants you involve, how closely your test participants match your actual users, and how many iterations of testing you run are all decisions shaped by budget and time constraints.


A persona is a fictitious identity that reflects one of the user groups for whom you are designing. Personas need to be informed by research to be useful. It can be tempting to put on your creative writing hat and invent details to make them believable or interesting. However, the goal should be to have your personas reflect patterns that you’ve identified in your users (or prospective users). There’s no shortcut for identifying these patterns—they come from user research: conducting interviews, surveys, user testing, contextual inquiry and other activities.

Scenarios and Storyboards

A scenario is a narrative describing “a day in the life of” one of your personas, including how your website or app fits into their lives. Depending on the audience, a storyboard may be a more appropriate tool for capturing how, when, where and why someone might use your product.

What is UI Design?

User Interface Design (UI) is the look and feel, the presentation and interactivity of a product. Like User Experience Design, User Interface Design is a multi-faceted and challenging role. It is responsible for the transference of a product’s development, research, content and layout into an attractive, guiding and responsive experience for users. The boundary between UI and UX designers is fairly blurred and it is not uncommon for companies to opt to combine these roles.

You’re responsible for the look and feel of an application. It’s your job to ask:

  • Do the colors work well together?
  • How is typography used to convey meaning and hierarchy?
  • Is the app well-designed? How can I improve the UI design of the app?

Careers within the field

If you are anything like me, google is your dream career. I’ve always wanted to work for google either on the design side or the engineering side. The best way to stay up to date with skills is to look up job postings and see the requirements. Here’s some job postings from google :

Google – UX Engineer, Design

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 8.59.16 PM.png


 Google – Interaction Designer (UI)
Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 9.01.56 PM

Now that you understand UI/UX and see some job descriptions, I mentioned earlier in UX about user testing. Let’s talk more about something called “AB testing”


AB testing (sometimes called split testing) is comparing two versions of a web page to see which one performs better. You compare two web pages by showing the two variants (let’s call them A and B) to similar visitors at the same time.

All websites on the web have a goal. Every business website wants visitors converting from just visitors to something else. The rate at which a website is able to do this is its “conversion rate”. Measuring the performance of a variation (A or B) means measuring the rate at which it converts visitors to goal achievers. Almost anything on your website that affects visitor behavior can be AB tested.


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