Part I - What is User Interface and User Experience? How UX is Not UI?

Dec 23rd, 2021.20 mins read


Surf around the internet and you'll be flooded with different perceptions on the two important terminologies of the design world - UX and UI.

In maximum conversations around building a product or a website, the terms User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) are always synonymously mentioned and are also used interchangeably.

When spoken about in general and not in any detailed context, they might seem to be describing the same thing.

The motive here is to understand the two terms and see how they go hand in hand to achieve the ultimate goal - User Satisfaction!

What is User Interface aka UI?

An interface that facilitates interactions between humans and machines is a User Interface.

The goal is to transform this interface into a more human-centered one to enhance the user experience.

From a design aspect, if one has to put it simply, User Interface Design (UI Design) is the design of interactive and visual elements—like pages, flows, buttons, and icons.

Basically anything that helps the user to navigate visually in his experience with the product is an aspect of UI design.

This includes everything from digital screens and touchscreens, computer and laptops, different accompanying functional sounds of the product, the colors used in its interface, and even lights.

Readers, it is integral to understand that UI design is completely digital and hence the term is always used in contexts that include digital products.

In relation to its role and importance in websites and apps, UI design considers the visual appeal, and the users' visual review and reception of the product.

End of the day, the aim is to ensure that the product, service, or website has the most intuitive UI design.

That essentially means carefully considering and deciding on each visually interactive element the user might encounter.

What is User Experience aka UX?

The overall experience (including the emotional aspects) of a user while interacting with the product is termed User Experience.

It can be positive, negative, or neutral. The goal is to understand the needs, expectations, and mindsets before designing the product, to offer an unforgettable user experience.

Exactly as quoted by Steve Jobs, "Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they decide it themselves."

And here is where UX design comes into play. It is the design of the internal experience that a user has as they interact with every aspect of a company's products and services.

Any action that makes the user have a reaction, is documented as a part of this process.

So User Experience applies to anything that can be experienced—be it a website, a coffee machine's working, or a visit to the supermarket.

The design process is based on the entire timeline of the user flow - from the time they begin till they exit. It also considers all the different elements that shape this experience.

For instance, when you log on to a shopping site, like Amazon, have you noticed how easy it is to reach the cart and complete the payment process? How easy it is to find the item you needed on the site and buying it wasn't complicated either.

Or otherwise, when you go to the market to find a tool and you get hold of the one that absolutely fits every requirement.

Or on apps that help you save and organize your finances very smoothly, making a very stressful task, easygoing.

The ultimate purpose of UX design is to make sure that the user has an experience that's easy, smooth, obstacle-free.

Key Takeaway - UX is not UI

We can conclude that if UX is the destination, UI is the wagon that will drive you there.

In this highly competitive era, companies are striving to provide an incredible product experience to users.

And to meet the goal, it is crucial to address both UI and UX elements of the product.

If the aim is to offer an incredible user experience, the interface needs to be fascinating too.

Stay tuned with us, to know the subtle differences between the two concepts, in our next article.

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