Design Basics: What is the difference between UX and UI?
A subtle dichotomy or two sides of the same coin? Delve into the fundamental difference between UX and Ui in terms of design.
(Image: Abhinav Raj on Canva)
On a fine Sunday morning, you arise from a long, uninterrupted slumber, venture out of your bed to explore what the trails have to offer. You’re testing out your new e-mountain bike and switch to a gear that makes your initial climb effortless through all terrain.
On your way downhill, your bike flows effortlessly with the trail, ripping tight corners and absorbing the rough trail smoothly on your arms. This leaves a lasting impression, a memory of an experience—the experience of a great ride.
In this case, you—the user, can safely conclude that you have a great bike. Your ride constitutes your experience with the product; or user experience. A great user experience inevitably means that you have a great product.
A great UX, and… Where is the UI? (Image: Abhinav Raj on Canva)
A User Experience (UX) designer works to provide the users with a great experience as they use a product or a service. UX designers not only ensure that a product has visual appeal but also ascertain the product designed feels great to use and resolves any and all accompanying issues.
Don Norman, who first coined the term ‘User Experience’, defines a product as an ‘integrated set of experiences’:
“No product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all of the stages of a product or service – from initial intentions through final reflections, from first usage to help, service, and maintenance. Make them all work together seamlessly.”
“Everything works and we know why—We know what users don’t want”—UX Designers (GIF: Abhinav Raj on Canva)
UX Designers employ multidimensional thinking into analyzing a product or a service—considering the Why, the What and the How of product use to enhance its usability and accessibility, according to the Interaction Design Foundation:
“The Why involves the users’ motivations for adopting a product, whether they relate to a task they wish to perform with it or to values and views which users associate with the ownership and use of the product. The What addresses the things people can do with a product—its functionality. Finally, the How relates to the design of functionality in an accessible and aesthetically pleasant way.”
A UX designer is the architect that designs the blueprint of a functional product and of the form that compliments it.
The UI or User Interface is where the interaction between a human and a product takes place—as technology progresses, the types of user interfaces diversify exponentially—graphical user interfaces and voice user interfaces just form the tip of the iceberg.
The Principal of UX Design Edge, Everett McKay, defines in his book ‘UI is Communication’: “UI design is an objective, principled form of human communication, not a subjective art!”
“Sigh-If only the programmer had read the 10 usability heuristics.” (Image: Abhinav Raj on Canva)
The UI is the point of interaction between the user and the product. In a graphical user interface or GUI, this may include visual elements of design such as colours, icons, typography and other factors that define the aesthetic.
Needless to state, the UI is an essential component of the user experience. A good UI on a website can drive traffic, generate customer loyalty and expedite interactions between the business and user. The UI and the UX teams work in tandem in product design, as elucidated by UX Planet in a blog:
“The UX team would determine the best way to lay out the buttons while the UI teams adapt their designs to fit the new layout. Constant communication and collaboration between UI and UX designers help to assure that the final user interface looks as good as it can, while also operating efficiently and intuitively.”
UX designers assist businesses in delivering the experience for their consumers they have envisaged.
So, if navigating to this blog was easy for you, then you likely have a UX designer to thank.