UX and UI are terms I see tossed around a lot in the web development and design industry. It can be really confusing to understand what these terms mean and what their differences are. I see it all the time, whether it’s companies looking for UX/UI developers, or developers using it to refer to their speciality of profession. From what I found just from talking to others, the majority of people see these two terms as the same thing. In reality though, they are two different fields and industries. In this post, I explain the difference between the two in as simple of an explanation as possible! So, let’s begin :).
UX or UX Design stands for User Experience Design. It is a practice that is empathy driven and involves the improvement of a user’s interaction with products. This is done through extensive research, interviewing, prototyping and testing. The end goal is to provide the best possible user experience through constant iteration and improvement of how a user flows through a website or engages with a product/service. A UX Designer’s role is multi-faceted in that its skill-set stems from an array of other industries such as marketing, psychology, human interaction design, design, business development, and web development. Here is a diagram of common questions to problems that good UX Designers ask themselves constantly:
UI or UI Design stands for User Interface Design. It is the practice of creating and enhancing the visual look and feel of a product. This involves taking the research and business goals (usually provided by the company or UX Design team) and translate them into a coherent interface for users to interact with. It also includes other responsibilities like laying out content and deciding how that content should be styled. As well as diving deeper into design concepts such as typography, color theory, grids, and visual hierarchy. Other fields that are closely related to UI Design include graphic design, branding design, and visual design. UI Design is a role that is exclusive to digital interfaces, whereas with UX Design, it can spread to outside the tech world (hello, Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality!)
So, you might be asking if these two fields are clearly different, why the confusion in the first place? Not sure where it started but the two actually do go hand in hand and that is where the overlap happens. For instance, a website with great UX but bad UI would mean the site is user-friendly website but looks sub-par… Likewise, a website with poor UX and great UI would mean that the site is visually pleasant but difficult to use. The two need to work together in order to achieve that ideal that companies look for that keep users engaged and wanting to come back. Hopefully, this breaks down the difference between the two in a concise way for you to understand their difference!