Putting the kibosh on UI vs. UX

This year I've seen more attempts than ever to draw distinctions between the practice of visual design vs. experience design, or "UI" vs. "UX", or whatever labels you prefer.

Let me be clear about this: This is ill-advised and misguided.

We need to stop acting as though the two disciplines are warring against each other. "Should designers code" has been replaced with "Should UX designers do UI" and "Should UI designers do UX."

At their best, the visual and the experiential are tightly integrated. One cannot exist without the other. For every Craigslist example there are dozens of counter-examples where investing visually led to significant gains in experience. For every flamboyant Dribbble example there are dozens of counter-examples of highly functional, minimally visual experiences.

Yes, some designers excel at the visual more than the structural or experiential, and vice-versa. If you need separate roles for specific areas of expertise and your rationale is defensible, knock yourself out. However...

Users win when we prioritize building exceptional experiences that look great and function great; that solve real problems with finesse, grace, and delight. The more we fracture all this, the more we fall short of exceptional.

For an excellent read on investing in quality throughout the process rather than solely in the mythical phase 2, see Stammy's article on Craft.