UX and UI designers, how do you work with each other?

almost 9 years ago from , Designer @intpd

The company i work for is looking to hire some people with a focus on UX, as of right now, we have designers who tackle both UX and UI problems. Many of us have yet to work alongside a UX oriented person and were curious as how your design process works.


  • Vinh LeVinh Le, almost 9 years ago

    i am one with myself


    12 points
  • Martin LeBlancMartin LeBlanc, almost 9 years ago (edited almost 9 years ago )

    There is so much confusion about what the responsibilities of a UX person are - it's difficult to give a good answer.

    I worked at a web agency where we have UX guys to do wireframes, information architecture and testing. When that process was done, the wireframes was handed to the UI designers who added the look'n'feel (color, type, images).

    This process is really bad. It's really nice for the client to have these things in chunks of 1-2 weeks with deliverables that are easy to understand. However, a good design is made in an iterative process, and e.g. the look'n'feel can have a great impact on usability test results.

    I would encourage having a small team with UX, UI, front-end and back-end guys to work together closely as a small task-force. Each person might do more work in some parts of the project, but it's important to have all aspects and points of view present in the whole process.

    Last thing - talking about UX and UI as separate things is wrong. The UI will have a huge impact on UX since it's, per definition, the interface towards the user. In most cases it's not a good idea to separate UI and UX into different roles, jobs, etc.

    6 points
    • Daniel FoscoDaniel Fosco, almost 9 years ago

      a small task-force

      I think you mean a... UX-Force.

      PS: Here's the visual reference, usability expert is the last one on the back.

      5 points
    • Chris DChris D, almost 9 years ago

      In most cases it's not a good idea to separate UI and UX into different roles, jobs, etc.

      In most cases with startups it isn't a good idea. I've seen it work well in large companies, and I've seen it work well in companies with 30-50 people. Usually startups don't know what the hell this "UX" role is they're hiring for they just think they need it and go full steam ahead. This makes the entire process a clusterfuck.

      In my experience, it's an excellent idea to have 1 resource dedicated to understanding users & architecting flows based on user expectations, and 1 resource dedicated to UI. I have never met a UI designer that has ever done a contextual inquiry or even talked to users for that matter. And even then, they usually ask leading questions and spoil the data all together.

      6 points
      • Martin LeBlancMartin LeBlanc, almost 9 years ago

        I have worked in both large and small agencies and now at a startup. It's definitely true that the UX role isn't isolated to a single person when you have a 3-4 man team. Then you have a "designer" who does it all.

        On large teams I still saw problems that mainly originated from the term "UX" and "UX designer". It's a bad term because a lot of roles heavily influence the user experience heavily (especially front-end developers and ui designers). If the primary tasks are creating information architecture, doing usability testing and other research etc. then give the role a better name.

        And exactly because of the bad term, people on larger teams are very confused about what the UX guy is doing. In the end they became the guys who did wireframes :-/

        1 point
      • Martin LeBlancMartin LeBlanc, almost 9 years ago

        According to multiple sources "user experience design" include visual design (UI): http://www.wikiwand.com/en/User_experience_design

        0 points
      • Martin LeBlancMartin LeBlanc, almost 9 years ago

        6 points
  • Jonathan YapJonathan Yap, almost 9 years ago (edited almost 9 years ago )

    There is no definitive answer to this. There is clear definition of a job description, but you have to ask yourselves: Where do the boundaries start and where does it end?

    Does UI do user testing, or UX talk about accessibility in colour contrast? Does a UX designer roll out prototypes or a UI work with visual hierarchy of content? How far are each person willing to go or do to produce something good and tangible?

    Both of the roles intertwine with each other and I don't see a clear definition on where to start and end. I say the best way to tackle it is to tackle the problem itself. Then you'll have to start understanding your team and know how to best play to their strenght. When you have a UX specific person in, you'll know they are definitely better at building a strong case for a specific problem, but that doesn't mean they can't make UI recommendations. The same goes for UI designer that can make good judgement calls based on research data.

    Ultimately, you have to remember that you are working with people. Don't let role define how you work with each other. Play to each other's strength and build from that, then run a retrospective and see how you can improve on the process.

    3 points
  • E PE P, almost 9 years ago

    Rather than thinking about it as UX and UI, I would think about it as interaction design (IxD) and visual design (VxD). One will focus on the behavioral aspects of the interface; the other will focus on the visual aspects of the interface. UX isn’t a task or deliverable; it’s a concern infused into the entire project by design and non-design disciplines alike.

    IxD and VxD should collaborate closely in the early stages of the project: research, design strategy, low fidelity concepts (sketches) – all the thinking that brings objectivity to the work and prevents a senseless document-handoff culture between IxD and VxD. This is where UX is being defined, aligning the entire business to create a series of gratifying customer moments. IxD, VxD, and other discipline leads should be working on the same strategic deliverable.

    Once the project is ready to be visualized in detail, the work traditionally gets more individual. IxD might start plotting use case flows and drawing wireframes of the screens. At the same time, VxD might start defining the visual system (grids, color, type, etc.) while regularly checking in with IxD to ensure wireframes are tracking to the projected visual system. IxD or VxD might work individually or collaboratively on motion demos or interactive prototypes to illustrate or test complex behaviors.

    In faster, more modern environments with well-rounded designers, VxD might do wireframes themselves with sketched direction from IxD. In some cases, teams might skip overly detailed visuals and documentation altogether, with IxD and VxD working closely with developers to craft the final product.

    2 points
    • Henry FreelHenry Freel, almost 9 years ago

      I'm not sure I totally agree with that. I see the IxD as much more page level interactions, i.e. does that thing look clickable? how do create a new object? Much more Human Computer Interaction and animation focused.

      When you say "One will focus on the behavioral aspects of the interface; the other will focus on the visual aspects of the interface" You'll have a pretty crappy experience if you only focus on the interface on a page (in both visuals and interactions) You've left out a huge part of an experience, which is how a user gets from one page to another. That is the UX in its most pure sense.

      0 points
  • Riho KrollRiho Kroll, almost 9 years ago

    I used to work together with a UX designer before and the process we had, I think, was quite effective in that we discussed what we were going to do and then we'd both go and work on it in parallel, so we'd ping back and forth a lot during the process.

    I'd say in a fast-paced production environment, working on bigger projects, this kind of a duo approach is incredibly effective. At least from my experience anyway.

    The key is to have clearly defined responsibilities and expectations. It also greatly helps if both designers are good communicators and can take and give criticism easily. That's why it's incredibly important to find out during the interview process how a person handles criticism, in my opinion.

    2 points
  • Henry FreelHenry Freel, almost 9 years ago

    I work at an agency with about 30 designers, we separate Visual Designers from "UX" Designers. I definitely agree, there are no definitive lines between these things. That being said we could never complete our projects if we didn't split the work up. The important thing to understand here is that there is a HUGE difference between web design and digital 'product' design. I put 'product' in quotes because although everyone calls it that, they actually mean 'service' design. Product design is 3d products you can sell to someone. Anyway, we do 'product' deisgn not web. We work on pretty large applications with pretty massive architectures and quite a lot of ramp up so the UX role (My Role) is so much more complex than just wireframing. I work on the structure of the site, the navigation, how to achieve certain goals, building a conceptual model etc. The UI definitely falls under my umbrella, it's the biggest (and arguably the only) thing that affects a user's experience. We (I) make out wireframes pretty high fidelity but at some point it gets passed on to a Visual designer who takes over the majority of the work of color, type, and visual interaction standards. That being said everyone on a project is always working together and in constant communication about the direction of the project.

    1 point
  • Martin BroderMartin Broder, almost 9 years ago

    We usually sit together each morning for about half an hour or less, discussing the designs I made the day before. I thereby explain what, how and why I did what I did. The UX designer then takes his part to tell me what has to be changed, what works and what should be done next or can be improved.

    We like to write down what we discussed directly on the whiteboard, so I just have to look up to see what has to be done next.

    I think it works pretty well this way, as we avoid running in the wrong direction or losing the focus on the main goal. The UX designer is also always up-to-date, when he has a meeting with the client or has to make a phone call.

    1 point
  • Aaron Tenbuuren, almost 9 years ago

    More specifically - when do you work directly with each other, and when are you working separately?

    1 point
    • Brian FryerBrian Fryer, almost 9 years ago

      when do you work directly with each other?

      During exploration of a subject (e.g. designing new feature, revamping existing functionality). This includes whiteboarding, wireframing, and note taking.

      when are you working separately?

      During implementation of a design. This includes the construction of a static, functional prototype; and visual design.

      We get back together again during the development of the prototype to make sure the design is headed in the right direction. Depending on the size of the project, this may happen a number of times before the prototype is "complete" enough for user testing, and for engineering to get a solid grasp of what they're going to build.

      1 point
  • Louis PuahLouis Puah, almost 9 years ago

    It easy to get confused between UX and UI when we think in terms of digital products and interfaces. I feel that the easiest way to think about it is that a UX person is based in design-thinking, and would be able to work with 3D products, digital applications, intangible services etc.

    A UI person is essentially a specialist that works with digital interfaces, and the key motivation is to make a visually appealing and functioning product. He can have overlapping skills/motivations as a UX person, prioritizing user experience and delight.

    From my personal experience, the process is often emergent based on what your company already has. You could have a product manager that is versed in UX and he leads the process. If you have a UX/UI person, with a separate product manager, the process will be led by the manager with inputs from the UX/UI person.

    There are UX people who either take a more leading or supporting role in the design process and it really depends on what you company needs/wants.

    0 points
  • Dean HaydenDean Hayden, almost 9 years ago

    Working closely and in parallel is really important, you both have a common goal and working together ensures that this is achieved. Sadly, I am not in that situation and each time I get an email with a link to a mybalsamiq wireframe a little bit of me dies inside

    0 points
  • Temi ATemi A, almost 9 years ago (edited almost 9 years ago )

    UX designer will basically provide their solution to the problem (as defined by the product owners) and provide specs. UI/Visual designer will then work on moving this on from wireframes to mock-ups/production ready designs with specs for the developers. This is the set up where I currently work.

    At first, having come from a job previously where my role entailed both UX and UI, I didn't understand the point of the separation. Now that I'm actually working in this way, I see it has it's benefits such as someone with a dedicated focus/experience on UX tackling the problem. They can bring their expertise to a problem that perhaps a designer whose focus is more visual/UI cannot. Although UI and UX are separated, we all give our opinions on both areas anyway.

    However, working in this way also has drawbacks in terms of efficiency and the speed the team can work at. Sometimes I cannot move onto a task because UX hasn't provided any details about it yet. I find that for smaller flows, I do the UX myself since I'm able and it helps us move quicker. I'm also involved in testing and prototyping but I'm slightly atypical in my organisation for this as a visual designer.

    0 points
  • Chris DChris D, almost 9 years ago

    The answer you'll probably see most is "it depends." Depends on the UX person's experience & skills, and depends on what your team wants them to be responsible for.

    You should choose tasks that you think would benefit from dedicating an entire resource to, that you don't necessarily have much time for or things that aren't your strongest forte. Don't expect them to be artistically inclined, however, know that there some UXers that are. If your team has a really badass illustrator or a person who is really friggin' good at polish, then you won't need to look for someone with those skills.

    Be prepared to share duties based on the ebb and flow of projects, and be prepared for the UX person to already have their own process in place. I'm sure they will be able to spot all the places their skill set can add the most value.

    0 points