User Interface Design vs. User Experience: What’s The Difference?
As a small business owner, you must already know the importance of having a responsive website. An attractive design and good search engine optimization will market your products and services to potentially millions of people around the world.
When making your website, you either do it yourself (if you have the time and the tech skills), use the help of artificial intelligence like what the Bookmark Website Builder offers, or, if you have the big budget, hire your own designer.
However, it can be hard to find the right person to do so. Designers describe themselves in acronyms, e.g., proficient in C, C++, BASIC, and of course, when it comes to designs, there are those who are experts at web design, User Interface design (UI), and User Experience design (UX).
Some even interchange the use of UI and UX.
Are they these terms really interchangeable?
Actually, no. UI and UX tackle different aspects of design. Here’s what you need to know about their differences.
User Interface Design (UI)
In website creation, UI or User Interface is defined as a series of pages, screens, and visual elements such as icons and buttons that are designed to assist the user to interact with a device. That is, it is the basic look and feel of the website, or the personality of the brand.
User Interface design is synonymous to front-end development, i.e., it manages information, tasks, and workflows and makes sure that something complex will appear simple to users. It’s the intersection between programming and design.
In other words, User Interface Design = Visual Design + Interaction Design.
User Experience (UX) Design
User Experience, on the other hand, involves the internal experience that the user (your website visitor) is exposed to as they interact with the more detailed aspects of your company site.
Typically, designers design the user flows and incorporate the steps that users are expected to follow during the sign-up process. The average user needs some form of guide and support when they follow the inherent steps laid out to sign up for a newsletter or other similar element.
In other words, User Experience design focuses on the ease of use of the website (leading to more customer satisfaction) as well as improving the overall pleasure in the interaction between the customer and the product.
Consider the following analogy.
If the human body were a product, the bones represent a code that gives it structure. Internal organs represent the UX design, measuring and optimizing against input to support life functions.
In this case, User Interface design is the cosmetics of the product — its senses, reaction, and overall presentation.
Bear in mind that the terms UX and UI are some of the most confused terms in this field, so if the above analogy doesn’t simplify things, you’re not the only one who’s still confused!
You can also think of UI as a painter who slaps paint onto a canvas without a definitive structure; UX without its counterpart UI, however, is like the frame of a sculpture without the necessary material covering it.
An effective product design incorporates both UX and UI in order for the product to be successful.
The History of UI
Back in the day, users had to use the internal command line interface and computers had no graphics, icons, buttons, or mouse. To use a computer, you had to learn programming language.
The first line of graphical user interface came from Xerox PARC which used icons, windows, drop-down menus, check boxes, and radio buttons. These features allowed the user to open and move files, and to delete.
While such elements pale in comparison to what’s available today, in its stage, Graphical User Interface (GUI) was in fact a revolution in computer technology. It meant that users didn’t have to use code to navigate through pages, and it made computers a lot more accessible to users.
The introduction of the GUI meant that a new breed of designers was needed to focus and enhance the graphical interface of personal computers. That is what brought the UI designer onto the scene. We’ve seen this particular discipline grow and evolve over the past couple of decades, and it will probably continue to evolve in the future.
At the moment, UI designers tend to focus on sites and apps, among other programs. They are usually contracted to design things like a product’s digital layout and other related visual elements in website creation such as screens in the system.
To get a simpler idea of the difference between User Experience and User Interface design, take a look at the following infographic.
Most users will notice the overall features that are meant to draw them into your website (User Interface design, UI), but when properly implemented, the details (User Experience design, UX) are what keep the visitor there.
UI and UX designs operate hand in hand to complement the features and details of the website with the intention of drawing the user closer to the product or service.
To maximize the potential of your responsive website in bringing in customers, make sure that your designer understands the importance of maintaining a balance between the two.