UI and UX have been around for quite a while in a design microcosm. While they’re fluently used by designers and developers, it may be hard to grasp the difference between the two if you’re on the other side of the fence. Let us break these terms down and help you get rid of all the bafflement they have ever cost you.
The mysterious 2 letters: UX and UI
The two twin-like sounding acronyms not only seem confusing at first glance but also connote with an unnecessary technicality that can be really discouraging. UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) are not just a whimsical code for geeks but stand for something incredibly important. And we’ll explain that to you in a second.
We’re living in the world of experience. Whether we like it or not, we interact with many brands, services, and products on a daily basis in various contexts. These encounters define our offline and online lives and can consequently – thanks to UI and UX — make them easier or harder.
What is User Experience?
Ask yourself how would you define “an experience?” It may hit you at first, how vast this term is. It refers to people, feelings, situations, adventures, knowledge, and skills at the same time. We should bear this complexity in mind, while we talk about UX design because it covers all these dimensions. As Don Norman, who coined this term says: “User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”
Hence Every point of contact with a brand whether it’s buying ice cream, booking a flight ticket, or visiting a museum could be considered as part of the UX process which could always be developed and improved based on what we need, what we can, and what we think as users. While it requires some analytical thinking and data processing skills, it’s also tightly related to psychology or sociology. It’s a cognitive science that was welcomingly embraced by the digital world. It features research, strategy and content creation as well as wireframing and prototyping. At the end of the day, UX provides an overall sense of feeling and satisfaction we can get thanks to the technical, digital, behavioral, and visual facets of the brand’s offer.
What is User Interface?
Speaking of which – the visual part (which also means the functional one). UI is a crucial component of UX as it stands for its outside representation. It includes selection and creation of the most suitable components for the interfaces of digital products. It’s the look and feel of the website, layout of the icons on the mobile screen or the 3D effect of GPS maps.
We’re living in the world of experience. Whether we like it or not, we interact with many brands, services, and products on a daily basis in various contexts
Based on the specificity of given application, website or desktop, it provides right the right navigation (slider, search field) and information display (message box, progress bar). It can therefore either greatly improve or downgrade our interaction with a brand. For example, a webpage with to many elements, weird colors and small font size, will take us a lot of time to find the information we look for or buy the item we need.
If it still seems a bit unclear to you, let me follow-up with two metaphors. The most popular ones compare the relations between UI and UX to a human body. The inside part would be that of UX: the spine, the brain, muscles and all the organs which support the functioning of the organism. The on the outside part we’d have receptors, skin, and hair which are the barrier but also the connection with the reality around us and allow us to engage into interactions with it. One cannot exist without the other.
The same goes for a watch: all the intricate mechanisms inside are supposed to indicate the exact time for us in different situations (like underwater, cold temperatures or at night). Then the watch strap and the screen should provide effortless wearing, endurance, and good visibility. All in all, you can think of any individual inside-outside correlation in this world, and it’s very probable you’ll come up with a good metaphor yourself.
May UX be with you
We hope that thanks to this post, UI and UX are no longer dar magic for you. Just be careful because once you get hooked on using these terms, there’s no going back. Eventually, you’ll notice anything could stand for a good or bad (User) experience and having to do with screens every day, you’ll get to pay more attention to the actual interfaces.
If you want to read more about UI and UX design:
- Our design process for great User Experiences
- 7 questions about User Experience we deal with every day
- Lacerba.io e-learning Italian platform for digital online courses