What’s the difference between UX and UI design?

difference between UX and UI
Is tech + design a study and career path you want to take? Get across UX and UI! Image: Shutterstock.

Love computer science but also being creative? A career is user experience (UX) or user interface (UI) design is calling your name.

But what’s the difference between UX and UI? And what do you need to study to work in these areas? We cover this, as well as the awesome industries looking for STEM pros with these skills, below.

What is UX?

UX is all about designing intuitive, easy-to-use products (including websites and apps) for humans. A UX designer takes on the perspective of the end-user – mapping out, from to start to finish, how they would use the product. They then come up with solutions for any ‘pain points’ (or problems) in the user’s journey. To do this, they conduct lots of research to find out more about their target users and what their needs are.

Okay then, so what is UI?

UI is concerned with the overall look of a product – think icons, colours, typography and imagery. A UI designer considers accessibility (such as font-size, colour contrast and spacing) and takes findings from a UX designer before creating designs that will be used in the product.

The difference between UX and UI is…

UX is about the overall experience the user has with a product (how it feels), while UI focuses on the visuals (how it looks).

What to study

Now that you know the difference between UX and UI, do you know which one you’d like to study? If you’re unsure, don’t panic because you don’t have to decide yet! Luckily, you can learn more about both of them by studying a Bachelor of Computer Science, a Bachelor of Computational Design or a Bachelor of Design Computing. Some universities also offer short courses on UX and UI, such as the University of Sydney’s Introduction to User Experience (UX) Design Course, and RMIT’s Future Skills Short Course in User Interface Design.

Where you could work

UX and UI designers can be found in all kinds of industries. Think:

  • Technology
  • Finance
  • Government
  • Health
  • Manufacturing
  • Travel

Meet a real-life UX designer

Sophie Gardner - difference between UX and UI
Sophie Gardener is a UX designer at tech giant, Google!

We spoke to Sophie Gardner, a UX designer at Google, to get all the deets on her study and career path. She spills on internships, mentors and it’s like to work on Google Maps. There’s not better way to learn about a career than from someone who’s already working in your area of interest! Read her full story here.

Want more on creative STEM careers? Find out what STEM design job is for you by taking our fun quiz.

Louise Meers

Author: Louise Meers

Louise is Careers with STEM’s digital content strategist. She has a journalism degree from the University of Technology, Sydney and has spent over a decade writing for youth. She is passionate about inspiring young people to achieve their biggest goals and build a better future.

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