User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) – are they the same or different? Can we even compare them? Both of these issues affect product design. It is crucial to understand the difference between UX and UI – especially if you are interested in working in this field. Let’s investigate what relationships are between these two areas.
UX and UI – table of content:
- User Experience (UX) – the basics
- User Interface (UI) – the basics
- How are UX and UI Similar?
- How are UX and UI different?
- Comparing apples to oranges? The relationship between UX and UI
User Experience (UX) – the basics
In this field, designers work on the experience that users have while interacting with the product. Of course, the goal is to make the experience positive and smooth.
The UX designer must research the needs, goals, and struggles of the target users. The whole designing process includes skills like visual design, analytics, user research, project management, and UI!
The work of the user experience designer usually includes:
- strategic planning,
- user-research (primarily conceptual, not visual),
- information architecture (organizing and planning the content),
- wireframing, prototyping the product,
- caring about the flow of the users (their journey),
- testing with real users,
- analysis of the whole process,
User Interface (UI) – the basics
The User Interface is everything that the user interacts with. Usually, it is a mobile app or website interface.
This includes designing screens, keyboards, sound and light effects, and whole logic standing behind the navigation of the product.
The job of the UI designer is to optimize the experience of interaction with (only) the interface – not the whole product.
The work of the user interface designer usually includes:
- design research (trends, visual needs),
- designing visuals (all the layout, colors, fonts, icons, buttons, etc.),
- branding (part of the positioning of the product),
- style guidelines, defining the visual rules,
- caring about the responsiveness (smooth adjusting through the platforms) and interactivity and animations,
- prototyping (just like UX experts, they need to test the effects of their work).
How are UX and UI Similar?
Both UX and UI are:
- focused on the user (on needs, struggles, and desires),
- based on optimization of the experience (to make it positive and easy),
- demanding skills like designing, data analysis or user research,
- usually in the tech world.
Imagine that we need to build a website for the delivery company.
The whole experience and logic of the service is mainly the job of the UX designers. They must research the needs and design a smooth and intuitive process for the customer.
The job of the UI designer is to focus on one part of the process (often working with the UX designer) – designing the interface that will be an easy path for the customer.
How are UX and UI different?
The main difference between UX and UI is the breadth of each fields of design.
User Interface focus on the digital devices, especially users’ ability to use them properly.
User Experience is a much broader term, containing whole products and overall strategy (not only building the visual element). User experience doesn’t even have to be about digital products.
Another thing is that UI is more focused on the look (of the interface). While UX also wants a smooth experience – logic is more important than visuals.
To achieve outstanding UX, both UX and UI designers must work hand-in-hand. Both are necessary for the creation success.
Something that looks fabulous but is a pain to operate is an example of great UI and poor UX. Something very usable that looks awful is an example of excellent UX and low-grade UI.
Comparing apples to oranges? The relationship between UX and UI
As you probably noticed at this point, UI is simply part of UX.
That relationship makes it hard to compare these two areas – it is like comparing the experience of sitting in a well-designed interior to the quality of the couch you are sitting on.
User Interface is a narrow element, the specialization, that (among other factors) works to achieve a good User Experience.
The UX designer often works on a more abstract level (for example, works on strategy and logic). At the same time, the UI designer puts these ideas into love by designing specific elements (the interface with its fonts, colors, spacing, and others).
Despite the contrasts, UX and UI are not thoroughly detached things! Both are crucial and work hand-in-hand to determine how a product will look and function. One always influences the other.
UX and UI – summary
User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) are some of the most confused and misused terms in the field. People are often mixing, interchanging, and confusing them. It may be a result of misunderstanding how broad the UX term is.
Putting things simply– UI include elements that enable the user to interact with a product. UX is what the individual experiences while interacting with the product.