Annie Malham

User Experience

User Experience Vs User Interface

When it comes to digital design, user experience design and user interface design are often easily confused or even completely misunderstood. Although they are usually referred to in similar environments, they have very different meanings. In this post, we’ll compare user experience vs user interface.

Plus, it doesn’t help the confusion when both terms are often used interchangeably in conversations. Whilst both elements are a crucial part of the relationship, they each play a unique role. An easy way to remember is to think that UI design is the look, and UX design is the feel.

Luckily, we’re here to help you distinguish between these two fascinating aspects of digital design.

What is UX Design?

UX stands for User Experience, which captures aspects of a user’s interaction and journey throughout brands, services or products. It’s the feel of a website, product, or service.

A contemporary understanding of UX tends to associate it more so with digital processes. However, UX encapsulates the entire customer or user journey, both online and offline.

By default every brand, service, and product provides some level of user experience. However, UX design takes this experience and optimises it for the user, with the power of design.

When thinking of UX in a design process, it’s the UX designer’s role to consider elements that will forge how the experience is supposed to make the user feel. The idea is to design a journey that will allow users to easily get from A to B, completing the desired actions.

UX Design In Action

screenshot of MADE website product page

The checkout process on the MADE site is a good example of UX design in action as they make the process easy for the user.

In a digital space, the most common place you’d likely witness UX design in action is within websites.

Particularly with ecommerce websites, where the ultimate goal is for the user to browse and eventually make a purchase.

The user’s experience will heavily influence their decision to go ahead with their purchase. A frustrating experience will not only cause users to exit your site, they probably won’t return any time soon.

So what is UX design? To summarise, UX design is the feel of the product, website, or service for the user. Its purpose is to provide ease to the intended audience, ensuring it is a pleasant process throughout.

Now that we’ve explained what UX design is and its applications, it’s time to look at User Interface (UI) design…

What is UI Design?

User interface (UI) focuses on the visual aspects to support the functionality of a website, product or service.

To help distinguish UX design and UI design, UI design is a term predominantly used in the digital space.

When considering the UI designer’s role, there are far more graphical elements that play a part in this process compared to UX design. The UI designer’s role in this instance is to consider and implement the overall layout.

This includes designing components such as imagery, text, call-to-action buttons and forms. It’s the process in which the overall look and feel of the user experience come together.

UI Design In Action

screenshot of Airbnb user interface

Airbnb use UI design to help with their distinct branding, using their iconic hot pink colour in their call-to-action buttons.

You’ll mostly find UI design in action within the digital space, usually on websites and apps. No matter what platform, the goal is the same – the visual elements and interactions should seamlessly guide the user through the interface.

In the case of an ecommerce website, the designer’s role will focus on understanding and designing visual elements that improve the shopping experience.

The more satisfying the look and feel, the better the overall experience will be.

The Relationship Between UX Design and UI Design

Although we have pointed out that they are two different processes, it is a collaborative effort from both UX design and UI design that leads to creating a successful online experience. This could be why the confusion is there initially as teams of designers will work together on the UX and UI to bridge the gap between experience and appearance.

Getting the balance of both UX and UI is crucial to a successful project. UX research is a very helpful tool to help ensure the process runs smoothly as it helps to gather any appropriate information that will help in crafting both great and relevant experiences but also a design that follows a consistent approach.

If either were to not be done right, the other would be impacted. It’s important to remember that the pair work hand in hand. For example, if you were to focus too much on how the website or product looks, and not enough time thinking about the functionality, you’ll have an extremely frustrated user.

User Experience Vs User Interface: Which do you prioritise?

We’ve talked about how one can affect the other, therefore it’s important to get that balance right. Poor UI could unintentionally lead to good UX being forgotten. Yet, it’s just as possible to come across something that looks great, but has a lot of issues when it comes to the functionality.

To conclude, UX design is the process of developing the solutions that aid in the overall feel and experience of aspects of a brand. Whilst UI design focuses on the look and visual guide to the user’s journey.

Whilst we’ve established that they are in fact both different, one without the other will end up with a pretty disappointing result.

Getting the balance right whilst combining these two areas is crucial to a successful overall experience with your brand, service or product.