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UI/UX Design Is a Link in the Chain Between Art and Tech


Once an idea has proven to be viable and a clickable prototype is ready, it’s time to start thinking about what users should see in the future app — a beautiful and functional UI/UX (user interface/user experience) design. While no crucial decisions are typically made at this stage, the design still can play a role in the product’s fate.

Why design is a double-edged sword

Many philosophical perspectives suggest that everything in this world consists of two opposing aspects, and design fits this duality well. Why? Because software design is simultaneously both an easy and a difficult process. What’s easy about it? When most of the research and prototyping are finished, the team builds the basic patterns of the app and formulates its main goal, which means that everyone knows what to draw and what the app is supposed to look like.

On the other hand, designing an app or website is difficult because it’s awfully subjective. Everyone likes different things, and that doesn’t mean that anyone is wrong. Just like in our daily life! Some people like strawberry ice cream, some people are crazy about homemade pizza, and for some, both are amazing.

Moreover, even an individual’s tastes can change over time. Maybe when you were a kid, you just couldn’t stay away from cinnamon rolls, but as an adult you can’t even stand to look at them. The same thing happens with your concept of beauty. Where once you might have liked an acid pink background in an app, now you see that light-brown would be much more appropriate.

For design decisions like these, A/B testing can save the day. It’s a great way to gather user feedback on your design and choose the variant that best suits your project’s future audience. All you need is a huge sample that accurately represents the target users. Otherwise, the test won’t help much, since feedback from a smaller audience won’t be enough to support appropriate design decisions.

Even though UX/UI design can be complicated, it’s still an interesting and unique process that manages to connect two opposite poles — creative art and precise technology — into one concept. How does this happen? Let’s figure it out!

Design and Art

Despite the fact that both design and art encompass a similar aspect of creativity — visual perception — there are some crucial differences in their main goals.

When creating a painting, the artist wants it to be beautiful. The buyer will eventually hang it on a wall, where it should be pleasing to the eye and suit the room decor.

UI/UX design must also be beautiful, but designs are created beautiful not just for the sake of being beautiful. Beauty here must solve problems and highlight the main product features. The primary purpose of UI/UX design is to build a smooth and understandable user flow with the help of visual solutions. The user should be satisfied with the way the app looks and the simplicity of its usage. If this is the case, the app will meet the audience’s needs and attract a lot of users, which in turn will provide the app owner with a decent profit.

This is why excellent artists and illustrators sometimes turn out to be awful at creating software designs. They might be great at creating amazing book illustrations or making cute things in Photoshop, but fail miserably when it comes to building solutions for user problems. They lack understanding about how to combine beauty and functionality. This is why you should pay enormous attention to your UI/UX team.

Design and Tech

The other aspect of UI/UX design is deeply rooted in technology, just as the term “user interface/user experience” is connected to convenience and understandable navigation of different software types: desktop, mobile, and web.

Here we can also see a kind of bond between these two ideas, just as between design and art, and yet this connection is not as strong as it may seem. In truth, development basically requires far less soft skill and imagination than UI/UX design.

Let’s imagine a company that has recently hired a junior developer without much experience, but who has a strong desire to grow as a professional. All else being equal, that person would need about half a year to become a mature tech specialist and to acquire a more or less solid background along with enough expertise to work on big, serious projects.

The professional growth of designers is something different. It’s not enough for a good designer to know all the manuals for Adobe Illustrator or Sketch by heart. There is supposed to be something far beyond these bare tools. A good designer should have a fine inborn sense of beauty that has been polished many times by their visual experience. A proper set of UI/UX design skills can take years to form, and still each new project can require a unique approach. This means that mastering essential design tools like Invision or Figma is the easiest task for a future UI/UX designer.

At the same time, developers usually underestimate design. It’s easy to imagine a situation where the designer creates a beautiful layout for a web-page, then gives it to a front-end developer who pays almost no attention to button locations or column sizes, thereby making the whole thing as bad as can be. This totally upsets the designer, the developer has to start everything over, and time and money are wasted on nothing.

The same thing can happen at the highest level of management. In most cases, tech companies are founded by tech people and they have tech people as their CEOs. These people care a lot about technology, which is good, but they don’t really care about design, which is bad. The best way here is to combine a professional UI/UX team and competent developers — and the perfect recipe for a successful product is ready to go!

Wrapping it up

UI/UX design stands directly between two poles — art and development. Even though design takes some important features from each, it nevertheless remains a unique activity that plays a crucial role in your product’s success.

Now we can definitely point out one important thing which is often underestimated:

Design matters.

Originally published at https://yellow.systems.


UI/UX Design Is a Link in the Chain Between Art and Tech was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.