The Difference Between UX and UI
No matter what you’re doing at any given moment, you’re witnessing a product or service’s user experience (UX) and user interface design (UI). Think of UI as the road you’re traveling on the way to vacation and UX as the feeling you have when you arrive.
It’s easy to excel at user experience but fail at user interface design, and vice versa. We’re here to explain the difference between UX and UI and how you can succeed using them in tandem.
What is User Experience (UX) Design?
Simply put, user experience design is a human-first approach to product design. It’s how a consumer interacts with your product or service, and it is directly related to how consumers perceive your brand. Broken links, non-clickable images, bad navigation and unhelpful customer service agents can all impact a consumer’s user experience and their opinion of your brand.
UX follows a customer along their entire user journey and should be considered at each phase. The goal is to delight the customer with a product or service that is intuitive and easy to use.
It’s safe to say that bad UX will lead to fewer conversions and more bad word-of-mouth marketing.
What is User Interface (UI) Design?
User interface design focuses on the visual and interactive aspects of a product or service. This could mean typography, buttons, colors, images and more. UI goes beyond making a product or website look pretty — it takes into account the logical flow of actions a customer will take before worrying about the customer experience.
UX should be as intuitive as possible, which means considering every visual, interactive element the user might encounter.
What is the Difference Between UX and UI?
Web developer and consultant Dain Miller puts it this way: “UI is the saddle, the stirrups, and the reins. UX is the feeling you get being able to ride the horse.”
Yes, you can ride a horse without a saddle, stirrups and reins, but it might be a slippery, unbalanced ride. You can also design a website that looks great, but if it doesn’t function properly and webpages are hard to find or navigate, it won’t be a successful experience for anyone.
The main differentiator between UX and UI lies in these details. UX design encompasses the overall feel of the experience, while UI design is all about how the product’s interfaces look and function.
How Do UX and UI Work Together?
Another analogy for you: “Imagine you’re designing a house. UX would be the foundation, while UI would be the paint and furniture.” This is how Maze CEO Jonathan Widawski describes the relationship between UX and UI.
A UX designer will map out a customer journey and a UI designer will make the journey happen. Typically, a UI designer will follow wireframes created using buyer personas and desired actions your brand wants a customer to take.