A glimpse into the universe of UI

UI user interface

We all know UI and UX are different but equally important aspects of building the perfect website. Generally speaking, user experience is about the interaction between the user and the web design. Through research, user testing, and iterations, they’re trying to capture the essence of creating a seamless experience for all users entering a website. 

There’s a different story when it comes to the user interface. UI is concerned with aesthetics and the website’s visual language, capturing the brand’s personality best.

To better understand UI, we talked to our Creative Director and Co-founder, Porfirio Lopez. He walked us through the main differences between UI and UX and how he decided he wanted to become a Visual Designer while giving tips and tricks to aspiring UI designers.

1:  What is your definition of UI?

A: For me, UI is the visible part of the design process. It is deeply connected to the UX part of the product. UI is the last step of the UX process. It’s like building a house – and UI makes it cozy and comfortable.

2: So, what makes UI effective?

A: Good UI is invisible; it’s all about the design experience. If it’s professional and enjoyable to use, it should allow the user to make the right decisions and understand the design’s logic at all times. 

Simply put, the user has to feel comfortable to think that they can achieve what they need in an easy and straightforward way.

3: What attracts you to UI the most?

A: I’ve always been attracted to beautiful things and beautiful designs. I get goosebumps when I use something that is just enjoyable to use.

Going to stores to look at products, to see how things work, is something that I love doing; I love supermarkets and grabbing all the different products and being impressed by solutions, and on the other side always thinking about how we could improve things. Also, I think a lot of my design inspiration comes from things I loved as a kid: cartoons, video games, airplanes, cars, and computers.

A little backstory: My dad is an architect and went to architecture school. When I was little, I would go with him there to play and paint. All the students were there, focused on the creation process, and I remember I fell in love with the process of creating things. Nothing compares to the pens, the papers, getting your hands dirty, and seeing your creation come to life. 

That’s the most exciting part of my day-to-day; when I design, I feel like I’m playing. Doing design is something I would do in my free time, even if I were doing something else.

4: How do UI and UX work together? Or what would you say are their main differences?

A: In my opinion, they’re two sides of the same coin; UX and UI need to be connected from the beginning, good UX is the foundation of good UI, and UI will only make things more understandable and enjoyable.

UI user interface

5: How does your usual designing process look?

A: The starting point of the design is to create visual directions that are presented to the client, meaning that they have to help us decide which option would communicate better to the user. From there, we do a lot of visual exploration and start making design decisions. We build the design step by step, and when we notice we’re almost at the end, we go into more detail.

6:  How is the task transfer between UI and web development?

The idea is to solve all the questions the developer might have about the design process. This means we know how components will behave right from the start, how things will be displayed on different screens, and how items will interact with each other.

We decompose everything into the basic pieces – it’s like giving you a lego with pre-assembled components with only images as instructions that only the developer can implement.

7. How does UI influence the user?

UI affects everything we do in our daily lives, from turning on the stove to using devices for the first time. UI goes far beyond the visual and turns our days into super frustrating or pleasurable moments.

UI user interface

8. Why is UI investment-worthy?

UI by itself won’t solve any significant problem for a company. Still, if you have a good product that solves a real user need, investing in UI would make your product stand out and become an enjoyable experience for the user. In addition, you can build a deeper connection with the user and differentiate yourself from the competition through UI.

9. How do you keep up with design trends?

I’m not a big believer in design trends; I think good design is timeless. User interfaces and design from a long time ago can influence how we do things today. Understanding how humans already understand their world can significantly impact how we design things. 

On the other hand, I’m a big fan of references, so I go to many design websites, portfolio projects, and products I use to get inspiration. I like to understand how other designers solve the same challenge I’m trying to solve.

10. What are tips you would give to a beginner UI designer?

Learn design principles, understand user needs, look around and try to design as much as possible. The best advice I have is to go and copy whatever you find beautiful. Try to figure out how other designers solved a problem, why they used a specific font, the spacing, how things are connected, the hierarchy, and how the elements are aligned. You’ll learn the most when copying work at the beginning. 

As cheesy as it sounds, the most important thing a designer needs is to observe. See the little details, the little gaps between objects, the connections between them. Then you can learn everything else.