Many laypeople and regular internet users assume that web designers handle every aspect of designing and building a website. This isn’t an unreasonable assumption, but it doesn’t reflect the reality of the situation. Sure, there are some types of websites that can be built and maintained by a single individual, but mid to large-sized businesses and online services will require multiple people and skills to come together.
Web designers should have a basic understanding of all the essential components of a website, including user interface design, the principles of creating a good user experience, and the limitations of the software and resources they have to work with. It is their job to oversee everyone else and bring together the various skills and disciplines of the other individuals involved in building the website.
Many people without first-hand experience of designing and building websites assure that terms like web designer and UI designer are interchangeable. While there is a lot of overlap between the different roles and collaboration is essential; web designers, UI designers, and UX designers are all entirely different positions.
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What is Web Design?
Web design is concerned with the overall design of a website. Effective website design requires proficiency with a range of creative and design skills. A web designer needs to think about the content and features that will populate their website as well as its overall layout. Usually, website designers will also decide on the overall aesthetic style that the website will stick to. They will also take responsibility for ensuring visual consistency and cohesion across the site.
The role of a website designer involves taking responsibility for overall project management; they will coordinate with content creators, UI designers, and UX designers to ensure that they are working in harmony. It is the responsibility of the web designer to oversee the design and development of the website and ensure that everyone’s individual contributions will fit together effectively on the final website.
Any modern website that wants to build a sizeable audience needs to be mobile-friendly. In the early days of mobile internet, web designers would need to design separate mobile versions of their websites to display on phone screens. Today, thanks to advances in both mobile devices and the HTML language, web designers can create dynamic web pages that automatically readjust themselves. This is a crucial part of web development, and it is down to the website designer to ensure that their website wors correctly in all formats.
In practice, most professional web designers today are also visual designers; overseeing the development of a website requires them to utilise graphic design principles. Not only do they need to ensure that the website is visually appealing, but they need to maintain a degree of consistency to each individual component and element.
What is UI Design?
UI is short for user interface, although some people prefer user interaction; in either case, it’s how users interact with a website. The user interface design is a critical factor in determining the experience that users have, and the ease with which they can navigate the website. As a result, the user interface and user experience, or UX, design are intimately linked.
UI design is a component of UX design, but there are some subtle differences between them. The UI designers work is about making the UX designers’ vision a reality. For websites that provide an online service, the UI designer is responsible for creating a compelling product interface; it needs to be practical as well as visually appealing.
There is a range of software tools that UI designers use; Adobe Illustrator is one of the most common, but there are plenty of alternatives available. Like many Adobe products, Illustrator has become the industry standard for graphic design. However, user interfaces need to be functional as well as aesthetically sound. Illustrator is great for producing graphics and taking care of the visual side of things, but other software is needed to build functional interfaces.
Effective user interaction design produces intuitive interfaces. Some interfaces will be inherently more complex than others; the objective of the UI design process is to make it as straightforward as possible for users to interact with the website.
UX is short for user experience. User interface design and user experience design are closely linked. In fact, UI and UX design are so closely related that some people use the terms interchangeably. While UI and UX designers will collaborate, and there are some significant overlaps in their roles and responsibilities, there are also substantial differences between them.
For most UX roles, a grasp of front end development is helpful, albeit not essential. UX designers aren’t necessarily going to be doing any coding themselves. Still, an understanding of what is and isn’t feasible for developers means they can focus on producing realistic and viable designs for UI designers to implement.
As the job title implies, user experience designers are responsible for overseeing a wide range of tasks involved in designing and building a successful and functional website. The user interface is just one component of the overall experience. Another vital consideration for UX designers is the websites’ information architecture. Information architecture is about organising and structuring content so that users can easily find what they need. Good IA design goes hand-in-hand with good navigation; another important aspect of the user experience.
To build and maintain a successful website requires numerous individuals to coordinate and work in tandem with one another. It’s no use having designers and developers all working at crossed purposes. Understanding what these roles entail and the similarities and differences between them helps to build a more well-rounded picture of what is involved in developing a professional website.