When first getting into the world of websites there are a bunch of terms thrown around that can make learning a bit confusing. You will probably hear references to the poor UX of a product or the great UI of a website. Don’t worry this isn’t some foreign language you will never be privy to, it’s a simple conversation and by the end of this article you will be able to tell the difference between the two terms and be able to blow your coder colleagues out of the water with your new knowledge.
First and foremost, UX refers to the term “user experience design”, while UI refers to the term “user interface design”. Both of these elements are key components of a successful working relationship and work closely together. The roles themselves are vastly different and refer to very different aspects of the product development process and the design discipline. UX is a human-first way of designing products and encompasses all interactions between a potential or active user and a company. Essentially, UX can be applied to anything that can be experienced i.e. a website, coffee machine, or even a visit to your local Whole Foods. UX focuses on the overall feel of the experience as a whole, it is not about visuals and is in theory a non-digital (cognitive science) practice while also developing and improving the quality of interaction between a user and all facets of a company.
Unlike UX, UI is a strictly digital term and is the point of interaction between a user and a digital service or product – like the touchscreen of your phone or tablet. In regards to website design, UI refers to the look, feel and interactivity of the product, it’s all about making sure the user interface of a product is as intuitive as possible and that means carefully considering every visual and interactive measure the user may encounter. UI designers are responsible for icons and buttons, color schemes, spacing, and responsive design – just to name a few of the many elements they regularly work on.
UX and UI go hand in hand, you can’t have one without the other. You don’t, however, need to possess UI design skills to be a UX designer – and vice versa. UI design is like the icing on the UX cake. This article was only the very top of the iceberg on both of these fields and is something to educate yourself on if you are wanting a full understanding of how both websites and apps are created and function.