What is a UX, UI, Web Designer?

What is a UX UI Web Designer?

UX, UI, Web Designer, Graphic Designer, Web Developer — What’s the difference??

Have you ever scrolled through different freelance portfolios wondering what differing titles mean on job boards or designer websites?  The internet is an ever-changing space and as a business owner, it’s incredibly important to define these roles BEFORE engaging their services.  So let’s go through what these titles mean and what they are suppose to do for your business.

Graphic Designer

A graphic designer is a someone who works specifically on print work or branding.  When working on branding there is a lot of research that goes into researching colour palettes, and the meaning behind shapes, tones and textures of a design.   Depending on their experience and qualification a graphic designer should be able to create some wicked branding theory or print based work to follow through with in your business.

Their tools are: Illustrator, Photoshop & InDesign.

What you need them for: Your company logo, business cards, flyers, ebooks and print material.

Website Designer

Web Designer. General Practitioner

Web Designer – The General Practitioner

Way back when I started the online world, ‘Web Designers’ were actually rare.  In a world where every man and his dog was a ‘Graphic Designer’.  Web Designer specifically worked in the online world.  They design websites and mobile designs.

Web Designers SHOULD understand the fundamentals of code.  HTML/CSS, the framework for creating a website to understand the limitations and possibilities of the online space.

Their tools are: Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver.

What you need them for:  To design a website for you when it’s more custom.  Sometimes they can also help you with the web development, wire framing and all your digital advertising.  Google and Facebook ads.

User Interface Designer (UI Designer)

UI Designer - Surgeon

UI Designer – The surgeon

I currently resonate with this title more than anything.  It’s something I love – designing user interfaces.  UI Designers are less about ‘personal branding’ as an influence to design but more a combination of branding and user experience.  This designer looks at the functionality of a tablet, desktop or mobile design to create an environment that looks and feels like the brand but also maximises the user experience.

Their tools are: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Dreamweaver and devices for testing – mobile, tablet & desktop.  They also use cloud systems like Invision app or similar.

What you need them for: Designing a prototype of an app or your cloud-based application.  Anything that requires attention to detail around the functionality of a design online.


User Experience Designer (UX Designer)

ux designer psychologist

UX Designer – the psychologist

And finally, a user experience designer focuses on more the psychology of function.  They look at the factors such as personas (target market), the environment and take quantitive and qualitative data to determine the best layout of a website or app.  They also look at accessibility which is becoming more and more important in the online space to ensure as many people are able to access your website or product.

Their tools are: Balsamic, pen and paper, sticky notes, a/b testing cloud systems &

What you need them for:
Generally, business owners engage with a UX designer once they’ve had their website for a while and need to improve conversion.  They’ll help you look at your business from another perspective and help you increase engagement and conversion which is always good for the bottom line.

But what about you Tania?  What do you do?

I can say that honestly, it depends on who I’m talking to.  If I start my elevator speech with UX or UI I tend to get blank stares – so if I were to meet you I’m more likely to say that I’m a web designer just because everyone from my grandfather to the dentist knows what they do.   Technically speaking judging by the projects I work on, and the way I approach design, I am a UX / UI designer.   I don’t start a design unless I’ve thought about the user experience or the factors that convert users and produce a wicket result.


Feel free to leave a comment below or share this out with those who may need it.

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Take care,

Freelance Web Designer - Tania Richardson.

10+ years as a product designer. Helping start-ups and organisations combine user research and design principals to deliver the best in online experiences.

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