There are two terms that get tossed around in the web design industry quite frequently: “UI” (for “User Interface”) and “UX” (for “User Experience”). We thought it might be helpful to clarify what each of these terms means and explain how they affect your brand, both on the web and out in the real world.
UI – User Interface Design
The UI consists of the tangible elements of any digital design (such as a website, app, product, etc.) It includes the overall visual elements, such as buttons, icons, photography, typography, as well as the interaction between pages of a website or application. So every time you use a website you’re interacting with the user interface. How you find the information you’re looking for and navigate the site is guided by the visual design. This is heavily influenced by the information architecture, or how the information on your site is organized. It should be logical, easily scannable, and relevant to what your target client is looking for. All of this combined with how the brand looks, as well as how it functions, is all a part of the UI.
UI = Visual Design + Interaction Design
UX – User Experience Design
The UX is the complete experience that a person has as they interact with every aspect of your company’s products and services. This includes how a person gets to your website, how they feel when they use your services and website, and how they feel as they interact with your brand both on and off the screen. UX is a more overarching and conceptual term. The UX of a brand is highly based in research and a lot of that happens behind the scenes for digital products. This research can include brand analysis, surveys, interviews, a deep-dive into your Google analytics, watching user screen recordings, visual heatmaps, A/B testing, conversion funnels and various other methods of testing.
“User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”
– Nielsen Norman Group
Here’s a brief video from Don Norman, the person who coined the term UX: