What is the difference between UX and UI?

Written by

Paloma García

UX · 01 / 05 / 2019

I’m sure you’re familiar with the acronyms UX (User Experience) and UI (User Interface). These are two necessary concepts in the digital world, that play a fundamental role at this times to provide a pleasant experience for users who visit a website or even any app.

Both concepts are complementary, however there is a lot of confusion when it comes to differentiating them. Actually, each one attends and gives answer in a different way to the users.

Today I’m here to talk to you about user experience and user interface. I want to explain these two concepts, and above all the main differences between UX and UI.

Let’s start!

What are UX and UI?

In order to get to understand the real differences between the User Experience and the User Interface, you need to know well what are each of them.

Before we go into detail with these two interesting concepts, you should know that both are related to the design and development of web pages, although they go well beyond the simple visual graphic design.

In fact, as we will see now, visual design is a part of the whole process.

User Experience (UX)

The User Experience, as its name implies, the experience that any user has when interacting with a digital platform, a device or any other environment.

The work that the UX process should do is to improve the product and/or service with which the user interacts, in order to make it as functional as possible.

And this is what will produce a pleasant feeling to the customer, that consumes or uses the product that you are offering from the web page of your company.

The UX concept is the User Experience Design, or UX design, which is the process of improving user satisfaction by working on the usability, accessibility and interaction between the consumer itself and the product.

In addition, the UX Design has a second task; also it must meet the company’s objectives.

Therefore, the person responsible for implementing this process, the Experience Designer, It’s a link between the user and the company you are offering the product and/or service.

The UX Designer is a sort of problem solver. You must implement a user-centric procedure. I mean in every part of this process of the product has to be the focus has to be the user.

But watch out for what I just explained. Because it doesn’t mean that the UX designer has to “put himself in the user’s shoes,” as many people think.

And it is that this way of understanding can lead to confusion, because with this “putting yourself in the shoes of the client” we begin to have assumptions of what you think the user can think or feel, or how he will interact with a product.

The UX designer’s goal has to be directed towards the user involvement at every stage of the process. It’s not just about empathise with the user.

The user experience design consists of several stages:

  • Visual design
  • AI (Information architecture)
  • Interaction Design
  • Usability
  • User Research
  • Content Strategy

As you can see, it’s not based only on visual design, since this is one of the stages that make up the whole process. In fact, there are many professionals who are specialised in a single part of the whole process.

In short, UX is similar to a scientific methodology, since it is able to provide both qualitative and quantitative data of the whole process that is being carried out in the different stages.

That’s why it’s so interesting. It lets you check if what you’re doing is going to be useful to the user, besides let you know if you’re going to meet business objectives previously defined.

User Interface (UI)

The User Interface (UI) is the medium through which the user communicates with a system. I put several examples: when you consult the time on your smartphone, when you program the microwave to heat the food, when you ask the car GPS to take you to a specific address, etc..

That is to say, everything that allows the user to interact with a system is the User Interface. And here is also included the website of your company, of course.

But it’s not just about the final design; It’s kind of like the Look & Feel of your company’s website. This means, it measures the comfort that the user feels when surfing the web, and if it is pleasing to the eye.

The user interface puts into practice all the decisions taken in the phases of information architecture, visual design and interaction design that have been previously defined in the UX Design process.

The UI Design Principles are basically these 4:

  • The structure: has to be able to visually inform the user, so I can understand what everything is. The parts that go together and the parts dealing with the same subject should be clear; You also have to differentiate the things that are different, as well as relate those that form a whole.
  • Simplicity: the user interface should always be simple and easy. It is good that it contains an open typography that can be read easily; The size of the letter must also be appropriate, and the contrasts along with the smooth backgrounds have to be part of this UI.

It is also important to note that a good communication, using simple language, and with a good content writing, it manages to reinforce this principle of the design of the UI so important.

  • Visibility: The user interface has to be able to allow the user to find all the options on the website, in an easy and visible way. Here the interaction design comes into game; You can’t hide the options and make them complicated. On the contrary, it is necessary to make clear the actions that can be carried out on the website.
  • The feedback: This is fundamental. Any change, modification or error that is happening on the website, must be informed to the user, always.

Some of the elements that are included within the user interface-based design are the lists, text fields, icons, sliders, Web buttons, progress bars, etc…

The difference between UX and UI

Many people think that UX design is a web page design job, and it’s not.

UX is like a kind of philosophy or way of understanding a design process, but understood in a general way. That is to say, not only to design web pages; It is also for designing products and services.

Its purpose is watch for a good user experience. And this experience can happen through a smartphone, or any other device that allows access to the company’s website, through a service or even in any real life situation; for example, if the user enters a cafeteria and feels well cared for, this is also a good user experience.

UI has more to do with graphic design. All that UX does with the different stages that the project is going through (visual design, interaction design, information architecture, usability, content strategy…) It moves to a screen that has a number of components that the user can already start to interact with.

As you can see, the UI is the way to make nice all the work that the UX designer has done previously. This is the difference between UX and UI, two complementary processes within web design, but essential for your company to stand out.

Do you want to offer the best user experience through your website?

In Digital Menta, we have a department of expert professionals in UX and UI.

Enter here and discover everything we can do for you!

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