There is so much confusion between UI and UX. People, who don’t know better, use them interchangeably as if they are one in the same. You see the terms misused in job descriptions, in articles and in conversations. For those who do understand the difference between UX and UI, it can be quite frustrating when you come across these terms not being used properly. Let me take a few moments to provide some clarity between these not-so-intergangable terms.
Describe the difference between UX and UI
According to the Nielsen/Norman Group, “UX, or User Experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”
So what does that mean? Well to me that means it is more than just what that looks like in a company’s website or mobile app. It also means how a person feels when they interact with these elements. And it might not be an electronic experience at all. So keep in mind user experience covers a lot of things: research, visual design, information architecture, micro interactions, content and crafting a person’s journey through all of the touch points.
Ok so I think you have a better understanding of what UX is. So now what is UI? According to a definition provided by Usertesting.com, a UI, or the user interface is the series of screens, electroinc pages, and visual elements that you use to interact with a device. In other words, the UI is the physical space or location that a person “touches” or interacts with a product or service.
Differences and Similarities between UX and UI
So you can see from the above definitions, UI and UX are not the same thing, Yes there are some similarities, but there are also very distinct differences. I view UI as an aspect that falls under the UX umbrella. User interface is just one aspect of the larger concept of User Experience. UX, as you can see in the graphic above, has a lot of pieces and parts. And UI is just one one of the components that build up the larger picture that is User Experience.
In some ways, the user interface is almost toward the end of the UX process. You’ve done research to determine what the interface should look like and how it should perform. You have done usability testing to validate your design and tested it with users. You have done the design and layout to present the information, or create an experience, in the best way you can for your customer. Yes saying it is in the end of the process is a general statement, but hopefully you understand what I mean.
“UX is focused on the user’s journey to solve a problem, UI is focused on how a product’s surfaces look and function.”
– Ken Norton Partner at Google Ventures