You’re probably familiar with the term web design. UX design, on the other hand, has only really entered into the digital mainstream in the last 10 years or so. (Worldwide Google Trends tell us the term has been on the rise since around 2011.)
Strictly speaking, UX design, or user experience design, has been around since the 1950s, gaining considerable pace in the 90s when researcher Don Norman used the term in reference to Apple computers.
While the principles haven’t changed, the products have. So, how do we differentiate between web and UX design?
The main goal of web design
Note that web design and UX design do not have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, to nail your branding, a good web designer should get a feel for your branding, while a UX designer will understand the user journey.
In simple terms, the web designer’s primary goal is to satisfy your needs as a client. That might involve a particular website skin or theme, website structure, typography and more.
There’s also the technical knowledge involved. A highly skilled web designer will have a well-rounded understanding of:
- Colour theory and reference e.g. hex codes
- HTML (hypertext mark-up language)
- CSS (cascading style sheets)
- Optional animation knowledge.
Just like most elements of digital marketing, these skills also need to be updated all the time. For example, coding languages may change, like the upgrade to HTML6. Likewise, certain browsers may no longer support legacy technology, so designers need to be on top of this.
The main goal of UX design
UX design takes web design one step further (and can also be applied to other mediums, like app design). This process ensures that product users have the best experience possible. It involves a complex blend of psychology, interactive testing and initial research.
In today’s ever competitive world, websites need to be optimised not just for search engines, but for user experience. With so many widgets, videos, text and images to play with, there’s a lot of potential for things to go wrong.
User experience is becoming more and more important, not just because of competition. It’s now a ranking factor for Google.
Notable examples of a poor user experience include:
- Too many pop-ups
- Barriers to conversion e.g. slow loading
- Bad website navigation
- Unclickable buttons or links.
A good UX designer starts the process with customer research. He/she needs to know exactly what product users want, which will inform the initial design process. Then there is a detailed testing phase, identifying any barriers to conversion and other general application errors.
Where do web designers and UX designers blend?
As two complementing forces, there is overlap between both these designers. For example, both might have an understanding of:
Web designers will look at this from a typography and colour perspective. UX designers will approach this from a motion design and website structure point of view. Both methods are there to elicit a response from the user – for example, the colour and position of call to action buttons.
Just as web designers need to keep abreast of changes, UX designers need to understand changing consumer demands. Both will help us deliver a better experience for customers based on what we’re using now.
Otherwise known as user interface, UI is all about the final visual design of a product. But it should be informed by the psychology and research of the UX team.
Should I use a web designer or a UX designer?
In an ideal world, you would have access to both. We need to appreciate what our users want, but deliver it in the context of our branding. Remember, it’s best to practise these principles from the beginning, rather than plonking them in at the end, so always ask!
Questions? Contact our Bolton & Chorley web design team.
For more tips on web design in Manchester, Bolton, Preston and Chorley, contact Tall Zebra Designs.
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