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Web design vs UX design: How they are intertwined but different

There are many acronyms used across the design space, and we will dive into ones that every designer needs to know - web design and UX design.

2 February, 2023
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Whenever anyone gains interest in learning more about design as a whole, they will come across numerous terms that might seem similar but are completely different. There are numerous acronyms used across the design space, and today, we will be diving into some of the most important ones that every designer needs to know.

You may be looking to learn more about UX design handoff or basic button types for UI design, but you need a foundation in UX terminology in order to move forward. With that in mind, let’s dive into the differences between some of these terms so that anyone can understand what they should expect from UI/UX design services.

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Basic definitions of UX design and web design

‘Web design’ is an umbrella term used to describe just about everything that relates to the design of the visuals and overall usability of a website. UI and UX design are sub-categories of web design.

UX—user experience—design, on the other hand, is considered to be a specialization that falls within the web design category. The main role of a UX designer is to deal with the user behavior, or feeling, whenever they are engaging with a website or application.

Many other areas in design are part of the UX design umbrella, but each of them is viewed from the perspective of the user.

The way UX design and web design differ

‘Web design’ can be a bit of a vague term due to the fact that technology evolves so quickly. In the early days, a single person handled just about everything on a website—now, there are numerous subdivisions that fall under this category.

When looked at from a general perspective, web design primarily focuses on visuals alongside the main functions within a website. However, any web designer should also know how to handle the website's overall functionality and be aware of the latest digital trends and user experiences.

UX, on the other hand, is a specific part of web design that puts the main priority on the user. The main questions that a UX designer needs to solve are how the page layout will look in front of the user and how they will be affected by it. UX designers also need to figure out which parts of the website they can make more advanced, and they will need to implement a strategy to entice users to stay on the website or create an account.

The way each designer tackles challenges and operates

The best way to see the main differences between web designers and UX designers is to see how each of them view a specific issue. For example, let’s see how each type of designer would view slow loading times.

If a website is slow to load, a web designer would assume that the website has too much content or that it features too many plugins, high-resolution images, or other database-related content making the speed slow.

Their role, in this case, would be to compress the images, adjust plugins, and cut down on content that isn't necessary as a means of making the website quicker. They are mainly handling the front end. The back end of the website and its functionality overhaul fall under another term known as ‘web development.’

The same scenario seen from the perspective of UX designers would go a bit differently. The UX designer would analyze how quickly a person would leave the website. Their main role is to prevent user bounce rate, and every second that passes and the page isn't loaded risks a user leaving. The UX designer would put a priority on load times, specifically within the home and other landing pages before addressing the issue throughout the entire website.


Moving forward with design

It is clear that while both terms might sound similar, each of them fills different roles. UX designers fall under the broad umbrella of web design, but they play a specific, essential role in the look and feel of the website and how users will react to it.

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