What’s the difference between UX and UI?

What’s the difference between UX and UI?

To an outsider who hasn’t been involved with design or usability of a product, service or website, it’s easy to be confused between UX and UI. What are these terms and what’s the difference, you might ask?

Let’s take a look at both and clarify questions you might have. Then, you’ll know the difference between UX and UI when you design or redesign your website.


What is UX?

UX is the design of a User Experience. Its goal is to have the most pleasing and easy-to-use, yet effective, interactions with a product.  Ideally, the experience is so good, it’s seamless and you don’t notice it. Increased customer satisfaction and loyalty ultimately results.

UX builds upon a technical backbone, and includes user research and interviews, statistical analysis, user persona creation, interaction design, information architecture, interface layout, usability and wireframes. All this is to develop something to address your user’s needs.

UX determines HOW users feel about a product.  For a website, the goals are to make the experience intuitive, satisfying, easy to use, easy to navigate and accessible to all users. However, the user experience truly starts from your advertising, extends through your website, the products or services you deliver, your follow-up communications and offers. It encompasses every touch point you have with a prospect and customer.


What is UI?

UI is the design of a User Interface (commonly referred to as design), with the goal to make sure the product has an attractive look and feel.

More creative than UX, UI designers take the final UX prototypes and user flows, then make it visually appealing for an end user. This may be in aggregate or if the content’s targeted, based on persona.

UI determines WHAT users do within a product.  Brand guidelines often limit the design. So a UI designer needs to make the experience look good with pleasing images and well laid out typography.


difference between UX and UI


Here are a couple other examples to illustrate the difference between UX and UI:

UX vs UI examples



Is UX or UI more important?

Both are important in the design of a product or website, starting with UX to establish the structure, then layering UI on top for visual appeal.

However, I think that UX is slightly more important for a website’s survival than UI. Here’s why – think about it from a customer’s point of view.

Have you ever stayed at a resort that’s absolutely stunning? The building is beautiful, the grounds are perfectly manicured, everything is perfectly clean. But the staff is rude, rooms smell funny, beds are uncomfortable, and food is terrible. In this case, the look and feel are good, but the user experience is horrible.

On the flip side, have you had a car where it wasn’t the sexiest on the road? However, it was comfortable, spacious, got great mileage, and never broke down? This is where the user experience is so good that you were ok if it wasn’t beautiful.


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Hopefully that gives you a better understanding of the difference between UX and UI. If you have any questions, especially as you consider a design or redesign of your website, contact us or let us know in the comments below how we can help.


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