Is UX design more important than UI design?

ux design vs ui design


Is this answer right? Maybe not…

I don’t think there is wrong or right answer here and the answer will be different from person to person. These days everyone is a UX Designer. I mean, who hasn’t said:

OMG! I hate using this!!

monkey ux

If you said that before, you are one step closer to become a UX Designer. You analysed the user experience and know how to improve it. Even though everyone talks about UX design and does UX design, not everyone is approaching it the right way or knows the relationship between UX and UI design.

UX is not new but using this terminology as a job title is. If you didn’t hear about Donald Norman I would recommend to watch this video:

From my research I found that in 1993 Donald Norman who was working for Apple, changed his job title from “User Interface Architect” to “User Experience Architect” and he is probably the first person to have UX as a job title.

Why UX design is not more important than UI design?

I heard CEOs, Engineers and even Designers saying that UX is their number 1 priority. A very good example I give to everybody when I hear this answer is Apple and their products. Why do people buy the iPhone or Macbook? They buy it because is simple, it looks good, is built from high quality materials and it feels good in hand. This first impression has nothing to do with user experience but it doesn’t mean it is less important. This first impression will decide if user will buy the product or not. I’m sure you heard people saying that something you were looking to buy sucks and that didn’t make you change your mind and still bought it because it looks good.

Once the user made their first impression and bought the product, this is where usability becomes important.

The usability will decide if users will keep buying these products or not. I think that Apple products are a good example for that aswell… iPhone or Macbook users will most likely buy a new model when it comes out rather than switching to a different brand. This is about to change for Apple after their disappointing latest iPhone and Macbook Pro but I’ll write about this in another post about what happens when you focus more on design than usability.

The product grabbed user’s attention with the way it looks, now is the time to make the user love that product for the way it behaves. I don’t think the importance is always 50% UI and 50% UX. Designers need to find the right balance based on the complexity of the product and who their users are. Check out What are UX Personas and why are they important to find out why users have a big impact on the UX.

UX is not just about users

Users have a big impact on the UX but is not always about the users. It is important to always keep in mind why you’re building that product and not just spend your time trying to make users happy. Often there are people arguing why one idea is good for users and one idea is bad without thinking about its impact on the business. Is an idea worth working on if it doesn’t add any value to the business? Users are just one part of the business and as a designer you should design something by thinking about the entire business and not just one side of it.

I’m sure I’m not the only designer who attended a very long meeting full of arguments about why one solution is better than another. When this happens all I want is to go back to my desk, create a mockup and do some A/B testing.

In conclusion, you should always avoid saying: “I think this is the right way to do it because I done this before” and keep in mind who your users are and what are the situations in which they use the product. To avoid misconceptions about UX design and UI design, designers need to have a very strong understanding of the entire business and have a good explanation for why they chose a specific solution.


Front-end Engineer & Designer based in Dublin currently working @IBM.
I write about: Javascript, HTML, CSS, React JS, React Native and UI/UX Design.

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