What’s the difference between UI and UX?

What’s the difference between UI and UX?


When buying a new device, you may have heard the salesperson gush about the UX of said device and how the UI is “so slick”. You stare back and take on the, “yeah-I- have-already- researched-this” face. But secretly, you have no idea what they are talking about and whatever it is, it’s not something you are likely to be bothered with in the future.


Wrong. If you had to know the difference between UI and UX in 60 seconds, it would be that the UI or “User Interface” is the series of screens, pages and visual elements that you use when interacting with a device and UX is how the user finds the journey of discovery.


UX or “User Experience” is a phrase that was coined by Don Norman and pertains to the action of interacting with a product or service and either finding it useful or simply too complex or slow to handle.


More about User Experience (UX)


UX is more than just the interface of an app or device – it is responsible for the following functions:


  • The journey users go through before discovering your product or service.

  • The sequence of actions they take as they interact with the interface.

  • Their perception and enjoyment of the product as they set out to complete a task.

  • The takeaway from the interaction and whether a user regards it as a useful tool.

When working on a product or website with a great UX, designers are responsible for ensuring the user experience meets the customers’ needs and achieves their desired outcomes (i.e. their purpose for accessing your platform).


What is a UX designer’s strategy?


When designing a platform, designers may conduct extensive research into the target market in order to get as much context as possible and to assess the type of user they are creating a product for.


These learnings are then used to mock up wireframes and prototypes that enable users to get from point A to point B, i.e. from purchase decision to checkout.


Don Norman and Jakob Nielsen provide another example: “Consider a website with movie reviews. Even if the UI for finding a film is perfect, the UX will be poor for a user who wants information about a small independent release if the underlying database only contains movies from the major studios.”


Under the guidance of a UX designer, a product or service needs to be useful, usable, desirable, valuable, accessible, credible and most importantly, findable.


What is a UI designer’s strategy?


While a UX designer concentrates on the conceptual aspects of the design process, UI designers focus on the more tangible elements such as graphics, icons and other visuals on websites, apps, wearables and other similar devices.


The UI’s strategy is to design an interface that is clearly laid out and enables the user to navigate seamlessly and with as little effort as possible throughout the app, website or product.


Google Product Strategist, Scott Jenson believes UI is focused on the product with “a series of snapshots in time” whilst UX focuses on the user and their journey to finding the product.


Craig Morisson, Head of Product at RecordSetter and founder of Usability Hour, believes there is no difference between UX and UI design because they aren’t comparable to each other.


“For example, it’s kind of like asking … What is the difference between red paint and the chemicals the paint is made out of? There is no difference.”


Using Google as an example


Let’s consider Google as an example of how UI and UX work together. The interface is simple with just a logo, search bar, a few buttons and a search results page.


Upon typing something into the search bar, you receive instant access to an entire digital knowledge base in less than a second. But what would happen if that search time took 15 seconds or longer?


The user’s attempt to answer a question or their “journey” would be significantly different as you are no longer able to get an instant answer to your question, thus decreasing your interest in the product as a whole.


Even if you liked the simplicity of the interface, your perception of the usefulness of Google would no doubt decrease.


Remember, the best product does two things well: Features that draw people to the product, and optimised functionality to help users achieve their tasks and simultaneously keep them on the site for longer.


About Fluidity


Fluidity is a Cape Town based software development company that has built their reputation on their ability to meet the needs of customers with the innovative power of tech.


Fluidity believes that companies who adapt will ultimately survive and thrive, and that innovation and technology is key to those ends. They partner with their clients as they help them innovate and compete with software solutions that create results.


Contact Fluidity


Email: hello@fluidity.solutions