UX vs UI design: What's the difference? (Your full guide)

UX vs UI design: What’s the difference? A Guide

DesignDigital Design
Wireframe sketching on a tablet

Are you looking for a SaaS designer and getting confused with terms like UX and UI design? As the SaaS industry explodes it’s time to demystify the difference between UX and UI design so you can build the perfect design team for your project.

Join me and let’s dive deeper into the world of UX vs UI design.

What is UX vs UI design?

So what is the difference between UX and UI design? Why don’t we start by explaining each design function in the SaaS development process.


What is UX design

Good User Experience Design (UX) is the process of understanding your users and creating the foundations of a digital product or website that gives the user exactly what they need.

A great UX design is a digital product or website that goes beyond exceptional functionality and delivers on

  • simple onboarding processes that hook the user to take immediate actions, increasing trial-to-customer rates in the process
  • creating habit-forming interactions hooking more daily users
  • reducing help tickets by providing clear and helpful content
  • showcasing the benefits of higher tiers in your monthly plans
  • integrating new features seamlessly

At Strafe, we believe that as UX designers it is our job to make your SaaS beautiful but functional too.


What is UI design

As for UI, good User Interface design (UI) is the process of giving your SaaS its final touches. It is the part of the process that gives your product a premium feel, taking it from a basic wireframe to a polished app.

Great UI design develops directly on top of UX research and development to deliver on:

  • creating an uncomplicated and reliable user-friendly interface that increases user retention
  • visually explaining the user’s next step and encouraging more time-on-app and call-to-action conversion rates
  • branding each page and element to increase brand recognition and equity

At Strafe, our UI designers consider all of the elements of a design that make it look great, build trust and credibility, and bring the brand to life through those smaller details (buttons, icons, images etc.) while delivering the overall design flow.


What are the key differences between UX and UI design?


UX design UI Design
  • Starts with the user and identifies what form the app takes and the content it needs
  • Answers user pain points with the right content at the right time
  • Creates processes for habit-forming interactions
  • Starts with the UX wireframe and layers in branded premium aesthetics
  • Highlights users’ way through pain point relief with the right visual signals
  • Visually leads the user through habit-forming interactions


Where does the UX and UI design process fit into your SaaS design?

Let’s imagine there are eight steps to designing a SaaS product

  1. Focusing your idea
  2. Planning and documentation
  3. The “discovery phase”
  4. Establishing your architecture and building your application
  5. Building out your development team
  6. Development, testing and creating your minimal viable product (MVP)
  7. UI development
  8. Maintenance and further developments

A UX designer will need to be employed from stage 2. These are the team members who research buyer objections, build buyer personas and ultimately understand your intended user intimately. They work with you to decide on the right architecture (or PaaS) and develop your application’s wireframe.

Depending on whether you are working with individual designers or have a UX UI design agency on board (Hello!), then your UI designers could work with you as early as stage 5. As long as, that is, you are working in an agile approach (a reiterative design process) just as we do here at Strafe.

If this is not the case, then typically your UX design team would hand over to UI designers at stage 7 and only come back on board again at stage 8.


Which should I prioritise: UX vs UI?

Whilst UI design seems to take a small part in your design process, it remains an incredibly crucial part of the final design. You see, without a great UI designer on board UX design ideas and intentions can sometimes get lost in translation.

Let me show you what I mean.

Imagine your UX designers highlight a need for a certain button in a specific spot on a content page. They have come to this call-to-action decision based on understanding that this will provide the perfect next step for your user and they have tested it to prove that it increases conversion rates. If this button is added, but not highlighted in the right way, then a user could simply miss pressing it whilst scrolling through your content. Resulting in a missed opportunity and possibly user dissatisfaction.

Now imagine that same button was a transactional opportunity, taking a trial user to a paid user plan. Prioritising UX over UI could potentially be disastrous!

In our mind, here at Strafe, the two disciplines play an integral part in great SaaS design. It is only when they are employed in your process that makes one a time-sensitive priority over the over.


Final thoughts: UX vs UI design

In the last 15 years, the digital design world has become a much bigger playing field and as SaaS numbers explode it’s hardly surprising that products have to work harder at attracting and retaining clients. This has led to a diversification of designer roles to provide a focus on user experience and user interface design.

In answering the question, what is UX vs UI design, I aimed to give you a clearer grasp of each discipline, where they fit into your SaaS design and ultimately how they both work together to produce a successful result.

Looking for a UI UX design agency to lift your SaaS idea off the page and turn it into an award-winning app? Look no further and drop your project details into our Project Planner below!

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