2 min read - 24 May 2022
UI or UI design stands for User Interface (Design), and UX or UX design stands for User Experience (Design). UI involves all the tangible elements that enables an individual to interact with a product or service. Moreover, UX is what the individual, interacting with that product or service, takes away from the experience itself.
What is UI? And what’s the difference between UX & UI?
When Apple Computer released the Macintosh personal computer in 1984, which included a point and click mouse with a screen, it was the first commercially successful home computer to use this type of interface. An interface is a device or program that enables a user to communicate with a computer, device, or piece of software. Once interfaces were introduced to computers, it created a need or perhaps even a demand for designs, specifically with the user in mind. After all, if users could not comfortably interact with computers, they would not sell. Hence, the birth of UI and UX design. And as technology’s role in our lives expand, so did user demands, expectations, and preferences. Hence, the roles of UI and UX evolved alongside that. Now, UI and UX designers work on a various devices, forms of technology, and different softwares. But what’s the difference between the two?
A simple way to look at and remember the difference between the two is by picturing a person. While UX is the person themselves: their behavior towards others, their personality, their habits, and the overall way they function on a daily basis. UI is the way they present themselves to others: including their preferred fashion style, the colors or accessories they choose to wear, or even their tone of voice. So once again, while UX is focused on the user’s experience to reach or achieve a goal or even solve a problem; UI focuses on the look and feel of the product or service. While UX is the emotional side, UI is the appeal. While UI is the look and feel of the bridge that gets us to where we want to go, UX is the feeling we get throughout the journey and once we arrive to the destination. Craig Morrison, Associate Creative Director at Truvani, would even argue that there is no difference between UX and UI. He mentions it’s like asking the difference between red paint and the chemicals the pain is made up of. There is no difference. Simply, red paint is made up of all sorts of different chemicals that when combined together make the paint red.
Of course, as the fields of UX and UI will both evolve, it’s fundamental to understand the role each profession plays through the different elements of design in a product or service. However, at the end of the day, doing hands-on design is much more valuable than stressing over the definitions and differences between the two. Even Jonathan Widawski, CEO at Maze, agrees not to get hung on the difference between the two, especially because “UX and UI are being redefined all the time” that even “in three years, the definitions will have shifted from what they are now. It’s not an exact science.”
Joanna is a UX/UI designer based in Antwerp. She has an eye for detail, can adapt well, and believes that good design is not flashy but is more about the user.
So what do you think?
Is there a clear difference between UX and UI?
Or do you agree with Craig Morrison?