Two phrases that are regularly used in web design include user experience (UX) and user interface (UI). Both of these phrases are practically essential when developing a wide range of different physical and digital products. If you’ve never heard of these terms before, user interface involves the icons, screens, buttons, and additional visual elements that a user engages with when they use an app, website, or similar electronic device.
On the other hand, user experience involves the interactions that the user has with the product and what they feel about these interactions. Even though the user interface can play a part in how the user experience is viewed by site visitors, these terms are distinct.
If you’re getting ready to develop a website, it’s highly recommended that you learn more about UI and UX design. This article takes a closer look at what these two types of design are and the differences between them.
What is a User Interface (UI)?
A user interface can be comprised of numerous features while also taking many different shapes and forms. User interface design involves the overall look and feel that a website has, which means that it focuses on the interactivity and presentation of a specific product.
The main issue with perfectly describing the user interface term is that job descriptions across different industries can consist of several interpretations of what this profession entails. For instance, some job posts will make user interface design sound similar to graphic design, branding design, or frontend development.
The various user interfaces at your disposal include graphical portions of websites, devices, mobile apps, and physical consoles. Keep in mind, however, that user interface only applies to different digital products. Even if the UI is accessed from a physical console, the actual interface is only available digitally.
UI in the Digital Space
User interface is essential in the digital space when used for programs, websites, and applications. The user interface involves the point of interaction that the user has with a digital device or a physical product that has digital components. For instance, interacting with a smartphone’s touchscreen is a type of UI interaction.
When looking specifically at applications and websites, user interface design centers around the interactivity, look, and feel of a product. One goal of this design is to make sure that a product’s UI is highly intuitive, which means that every interactive and visual element that the user will encounter must be thoroughly considered. When working on a project of any scope or size, a UI designer will spend time on developing the:
- Color schemes
- Buttons and icons
- Responsive design
What Does UI Design Involve?
When designing a user interface, you should think about taking a multi-faceted approach to the design process. You or the team of UI designers you hire will be responsible for converting your website’s research, content, layout, and development into a responsive and attractive interface that users can interact with.
A good UI designer will focus on visually guiding users through the product’s interface to ensure that the user has an intuitive experience. This type of designer must understand how to incorporate everything from color schemes to a responsive design into the product in question. The types of tasks a UI designer is required to perform on a regular basis include:
- Customer analysis
- Graphic and branding development
- User guides
- Design research
- Animation and interactivity
- UI prototyping
- Implementation with primary developers
- Adaptation with all screen sizes
What is a User Experience (UX)?
User experience design involves the design of every facet of how the end-user interacts with the brand, its products, and its services. When someone visits a website, the site owner invariably wants this individual to have a great user experience, which increases the likelihood that the user will make a purchase or return to the website at a later date.
The modern consumer has many options to select from, which is why providing consumers with a fine-tuned user experience can help you increase your brand’s growth rate. Keep in mind that user experience applies to digital products and physical products alike. User experience could effectively be applied to everything from websites and applications to cars and coffee machines.
What makes a good user experience largely depends on the type of product the person is using. When considering a website, a good user experience occurs when the user is able to enter the website in seconds, find the information or product they’re looking for in a few clicks of a button, and complete the checkout process without too many complications. When a user has a great user experience, they are more likely to remain on the website long enough to take an action, which could result in the user creating a membership or purchasing a product.
UX in the Digital Space
When solely taking the digital space into account, UX design is necessary for websites, programs, applications, and games. Let’s say that a user brings up the main menu when they want to start playing a game. If this individual clicks the start button and nothing happens, they will undoubtedly have a poor user experience. While some users will wait until the problem is fixed, others will choose to leave and play other games.
The same is true for websites. If you provide the people who visit your website with a bad user experience, they are more likely to leave your website for others. User experience applies to any aspect of a website or application that the user can experience or interact with.
What Does UX Design Involve?
A great user experience design is able to make a user feel like they enjoyed their time on the website or application and were able to accomplish the tasks they visited the website to do. Even after a UX design has been implemented, UX designers will perform analyses to determine if users are able to complete tasks in the proper flow.
A UX designer might study how easy the checkout process is when a user shops online. They could also look at an online banking app to determine if users are able to properly manage their funds. The tasks a UX designer performs mainly depend on what type of company the designer works for. The main goal that a UX designer has is to make efficient, easy, and relevant experiences for the end-user.
How They Work Together
While the UI and UX for a website are different aspects of the site design, it’s important that they come together for anyone that wants to create a solid digital or physical product that keeps users satisfied. If a website looks amazing but isn’t functional, it has a fantastic UI but a poor UX. The opposite can also be true.
Let’s say that you have the perfect concept for an application that provides users with an experience they don’t currently have but are searching for. Even if the app is well-designed in regards to its concept and provides users with a bevy of helpful features, the app might not become popular if it has large text on every screen and buttons that are too close to one another.
If your website or app doesn’t have a great UX and UI, modern users will likely consider other options. On the other hand, providing site visitors with a fantastic experience and a beautiful user interface increases the likelihood that they will convert into return customers.
What Are the Core Differences Between UI and UX Design?
There are many differences between a user interface and a user experience. Since these two components work together, only focusing on one over the other could result in a poorly designed website that doesn’t provide users what they’re looking for.
UX design is centered entirely around the feeling that a user has when experiencing or interacting with a product. In comparison, UI design focuses on the appearance and function that the product’s interface has. A UX designer will make sure that a button on a site page leads to the intended destination. On the other hand, a UI designer may create the typography that’s placed on top of the button.
UX designers tend to consider the entire journey the user takes and the tasks they perform along the way to make sure they have a simplified and straightforward experience. These professionals will perform comprehensive user research to identify who the primary audience is and what their core needs are. They will then design the user’s journey throughout the website while focusing on how the content in the site is organized. UX designers eventually make wireframes that act as the blueprints for the website as question.
At this stage of the process, the UI designer will aim to bring the UX designer’s work to life in the final product. This designer considers every visual component that the user sees during the journey, which extends to each screen and touch-point. A touch-point is any instance of scrolling, clicking, or swiping. The main differences between UX and UI designers include:
- UX design occurs first during product development and is followed by UI design where the interactive and visual elements are effectively filled in.
- UX design involves solving user problems, while UI design aims to make aesthetically appealing and intuitive interfaces.
- UX design is able to be applied to physical and digital products, while UI refers specifically to digital experiences and products.
Designing an effective website that provides your target audience with the content and experience they’re looking for requires a combination of UI and UX design. If you can deliver a website that provides users with a fulfilling experience and an aesthetically pleasing design, they may be more likely to purchase a product or return to your website in the future.