UX vs UI: What’s the difference?

One of the most basic mistakes that designers make is using the terms - UX and UI interchangeably. While these two terms are kind of the same pods in a pea yet they differ in meaning. So don't embarrass yourself in that client meeting and know your basics well. This article aims to clarify the basic difference between UX - User Experience and UI - User Interface. 

What is UX?

UX, also known as User Experience is the quality of a user's interaction with a website or product. And the process of creating this experience is known as UX Design. The focus of a UX compliant design is to focus on the requirements, values, abilities as well as imitations of its users. A UX Designer's primary responsibility is to create a web experience keeping the end-users in mind. 

Semantic Studios have developed this user experience honeycomb to list out the factors that impact UX, have a look below. Each of these factors are responsible for influencing the quality of the user experience. 

UX is not just about how a user interacts with your product but the entire process behind it. It involves:

  • How a user discovers your website - via Search Engine or Social Media
  • What actions the site visitor takes upon landing on your website
  • The experience of interacting with your website, are they interested in staying for long or do they fall off instantly
  • The lasting impression they take away, which also determines if they're going to visit again or not

In order to get the desired results UX professionals work closely with UI designers, so let's take a look at what UI is all about?

What is UI?

The Interactions Design Foundation defines UI Design or User Interface Design as the process that designers use ti create web applications by focusing on style or looks. Essentially what you read in high school about Graphical User Interface (remember?) holds true for UI too. As designers, we focus on creating interfaces that are easy-to-use and have an aesthetic appeal for the end-users. 

So, on a website. the buttons, gesture controls, screen layout, transitions, images, sliders are all UI elements and designing these very critical elements is the job of a UI designer. If a user lands on your website, and the first think he/she asks, "How do I do this?".. Well, it is not good news. It just means your website has a poor UI design!

UX vs UI

As we've discussed, UX and UI are two different disciplines that work in harmony and are integral to each other's success. When your aim is to develop a functional website that is loved by site visitors as well as your client alike, you need to clearly distinguish these two. Here's how Don Norman and Jakob Nielsen summed it up for us:

It’s important to distinguish the total user experience from the user interface (UI), even though the UI is obviously an extremely important part of the design. As an example, consider a website with movie reviews. Even if the UI for finding a film is perfect, the UX will be poor for a user who wants information about a small independent release if the underlying database only contains movies from the major studios.

Simply put, UX Design is all about the overall experience of a product or website where as UI Design is all about its look and function. Each UI element (like a button, or a menu) contributes to the user's experience (or UX) of the website. UI deals with the website design but UX deals with the website experience. They're both intricately linked. 

Need a little more explanation? Okay, let's understand this with a very simple restaurant analogy. Imagine you're in the beautiful city of Prague, you've had a nice day visiting the Gothic churches, learning about the city's history and marvelled at the beautiful architecture the city has to offer, and now it's time to eat. So at the restaurant, the tables, the chair, the menu card in your hand are all UI elements, they're there to guide you but the food you eat, the service you get, the background music you hear are all UX elements. If you leave this restaurant with a hearty meal and a smile on your face, that's good UX right there!

Final Word

So now we've established that it is very important for UX and UI to have a clear communication in order to make sure the final design looks good. Both these design concepts although are quite different from each other but they do go hand-in-hand. If you're new to the field of web designing, I'd suggest to dabble with both UI and UX design, not only it is better for you but it will also make you a better designer!

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