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At the most basic level, the user interface (UI) is the set of screens, pages, and visual elements, such as buttons and icons, that allow a person to interact with a product or service. User experience (UX), on the other hand, is the internal experience a person has when interacting with all aspects of a company’s products and services. These terms are often used interchangeably, sometimes incorrectly. If you’ve ever wondered, “What is UI, what is UX, and what’s the difference between the two?”
We have all heard conversations on the trendy streets of the world’s tech capitals about the great “UX” of a product or the bad “UI” of a website. Is this a secret language that you will never know? Are these people just using slang to make themselves look cool? Well, ok, this last one probably yes, but a resounding NO to the rest. If you want to know exactly what UX and UI mean and how they differ, you’ve come to the right place. Below is a breakdown of the topics we will cover in this article.
How to differentiate between UI and UX
What is UX?
User experience (UX) refers to the general experience of users when they interact with a product. Products designed with the user experience in mind are easy to use and provide a positive experience. In this sense, UX has to do with the emotional experience that a user has with a product. It refers not only to the practical use of a system, but to the overall user experience with a brand from start to finish. To create a positive user experience, it’s important to understand the user and their needs, goals, and issues, reports Usability.gov.
In the digital realm, UX is usually about usability and whether a user was able to achieve a specific goal. Take an ecommerce website, for example. The site is easy of navigate? Are the steps, from searching for a product to paying, intuitive for the user? These are UX questions. The user experience can be positive, negative or neutral.
According to Usability.gov, promoting a positive user experience includes elements such as project management, user research, information architecture, visual design, content strategy, analytics, accessibility, and user interface. Username. UX contributes to a better customer experience by considering user needs, typically through user research and testing. Some examples of UX in business include regular quality control of an e-commerce site to ensure the shopping cart is working properly, or the use of heat maps to determine if users are getting the information they need. This data can be used to optimize the user experience.
What is the user interface?
Looking at UI and UX features, user interface (UI) is a more technical approach that deals with optimizing the interaction between people and computer systems. It’s about anticipating users’ needs and providing targeted inputs to get users where they want and need to go, reports Usability.gov. UI is a part of UX, although the term is not all-encompassing. It also refers to visual design, information architecture, and interaction design.
User interface is about designing interfaces that contribute to a better overall user experience. Through the use of icons, buttons, visuals, colors, responsive design, and information architecture, a UI designer attempts to make interaction with a digital device as intuitive as possible.
Some examples of business applications include designing a site map with a clear content hierarchy so users can easily find the information they are looking for, or using visual design, such as colored buttons, to help users complete a specific call to action. Basic UI best practices include keeping things simple, consistent, and up-to-date.
How are UX and UI different?
UX and UI are related, but there are some important differences. First of all, the user interface deals specifically with digital devices and the ability of people to use them. User experience is a term that refers to the interaction with a brand, product or service more broadly. Although often used in the context of devices, user experience does not necessarily refer to digital products. Another difference between UI and UX: UX is more about how a product feels, while UI is more about how it looks.
For example, a website can look great but be very difficult to use (great user interface, but terrible user experience), or vice versa. In this way, UX and UI go hand in hand. However, UI and UX designers have different skill sets and work at different stages of the process. UX usually comes first, as user experience designers first study users in depth to understand their goals and problems. They typically map out the entire user journey and consider how it can be improved. Sometimes they also create outlines for their findings.
A UI designer then puts the UX recommendations into action. Based on the user journey and schemas, they implement changes to a website, for example. At this stage, the UI designer takes into account the considerations of the UX designer when developing designs that meet the needs of the users. There can also be a feedback loop between the user experience and the user interface; UX designers can test an interface after a UI designer has created it.
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