Have you ever heard people throw around the terms UI and UX and wondered what they were going on about? If you are excited to learn what precisely UX and UI mean and how they differ, don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place, we’ve got you covered! After reading this article, you’ll have a better understanding on these terms and how they relate to each other.
User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) are two terms often used interchangeably. Have you ever wondered, “What is UI, What is UX, and What is the difference between them?”
What is User Experience?
User Experience design is a human first-way of designing a product.
Don Norman, a cognitive scientist and co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group Design Consultancy, is credited with coining the term “user experience” in the late 1990s. Here’s how he describes it:
“User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-users interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”
The above definition has no reference to tech, no mention of digital, and doesn’t tell us all that much about what a UX designer does. But like all professions, it’s impossible to distill the process from just a few words.
Still, Don Norman’s definition tells us that, regardless of its medium, UX Design encompasses any and all interactions between a potential or active customer and a company. As a scientific process it could be applied to anything; street lamps, cars, Ikea shelving and so on. However, despite being a scientific term, its use since inception has been almost entirely within digital fields; one reason for this being that the tech industry started blowing up around the time of the term’s invention. You can learn all about the fascinating history of UX design here.
Essentially, UX applies to anything that can be experienced—be it a website, a coffee machine, or a visit to the supermarket. The “user experience” part refers to the interaction between the user and a product or service. User experience design, then, considers all the different elements that shape this experience. A UX designer thinks about how the experience makes the user feel, and how easy it is for the user to accomplish their desired tasks. For example: How easy is the checkout process when shopping online? How easy is it for you to grip that vegetable peeler? Does your online banking app make it easy for you to manage your money? The ultimate purpose of UX design is to create easy, efficient, relevant, and all-round pleasant experiences for the user.
What is User Interface (UI) design?
Despite being an older and more practiced field, the question of “What is user interface design?” is challenging to answer because of its broad variety of misapprehensions. While user experience is a conglomeration of tasks focused on the optimization of a product for efficacious and enjoyable use, user interface design is its complement; the look and feel, the presentation and interactivity of a product.
Let’s set the record straight once and for all. Unlike UX, user interface design is a strictly digital term. A user interface is the point of interaction between the user and a digital device or product—like the touchscreen on your smartphone, or the touchpad you use to select what kind of coffee you want from the coffee machine. Concerning websites and apps, UI design considers the look, feel, and interactivity of the product. It’s all about making sure that the user interface of a product is as intuitive as possible, and that means carefully considering each visual, interactive element the user might encounter. A UI designer will think about icons and buttons, typography and color schemes, spacing, imagery, and responsive design.
As a user experience design, user interface design is a multi-faceted and challenging role. It is responsible for the transference of a product’s development, research, content, and layout into an attractive, guiding, and responsive experience for users.
Now we have a clear-cut definition of both UX and UI, let’s consider the key differences between the two.
Difference Between UX and UI
If you imagine a product as the human body, the bones represent the code which give it structure. The organs represent the UX design: measuring and optimizing against input for supporting life functions. And UI design represents the cosmetics of the body; its presentation, its senses and reactions.
But don’t worry if you’re still confused! You’re not the only one!
“User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) are some of the most confused and misused terms in our field. A UI without UX is like a painter slapping paint onto a canvas without thought; while UX without UI is like the frame of a sculpture with no paper mache on it. A great product experience starts with UX followed by UI. Both are essential for the product’s success.”
It’s important to understand that UX and UI do go hand-in-hand; you can’t have one without the other. However, you don’t need to possess UI design skills to be a UX designer, and vice versa—UX and UI constitute separate roles with separate processes and tasks!
The main difference to bear in mind is this: UX design is all about the overall feel of the experience, while UI design is all about how the product’s interfaces look and function.
A UX designer considers the user’s entire journey to solve a particular problem; what steps do they take? What tasks do they need to complete? How straightforward is the experience? Much of their work focuses on finding out what kinds of problems and pain-points users come up against, and how a certain product might solve them. They’ll conduct extensive user research in order to find out who the target users are and what their needs are in relation to a certain product. They’ll then map out the user’s journey across a product, considering things like information architecture—i.e. How the content is organized and labelled across a product—and what kinds of features the user might need. Eventually, they’ll create wireframes which set out the bare-bones blueprints for the product.
Importance of UX/UI in Mobile and Web Development
There’s a saying, ‘A good teacher is the one that grabs and holds the attention of the students and then teaches the lessons.’ This saying is quite appropriate in the case of UI/UX design for mobile apps. The designs grab the attention of the users and ensure they spend as much time on the app as possible. However, the users should be able to understand the designs and navigate well enough to stick around for the long term.
Get featured in app stores
Whether a mobile app is good or not is determined by how many users like it. The ratings and reviews by satisfied users will bring your mobile app to the top lists. To get your app featured in Play Store or App Store, make sure the users get a good UI UX, getting featured in the top lists of any category will automatically bring more traction to your app.
Make your app faster
An efficient UI design doesn’t consume time while loading or navigating from option to option.
Remember, the longer it takes to load the app, the number of users you will be losing.
Which means a UI designer must provide information about the process in the form of notifications thereby enhancing the interface and save time.
Looks don’t really matter in an app, there are tons of apps out there with some of the most amazing looks but they don’t have the numbers which matter.
Why? Because of the performance lag, looks are secondary when your app does the job a user is expecting.
Make it as interactive as possible
An interactive app is better than a non-interactive one and that’s a fact. When you allow users to interact with the app, it creates a connection between them. Interactive apps give freedom to users to navigate themselves through different windows.
It’s ok to experiment or do something out of the box but make sure people don’t get confused.
Sticking to the basics doesn’t hurt the look or feel of the app.