In today’s creative and technical environment, the terms “UI” (User Interface) and “UX” (User Experience) are being used more than ever. Overall, these terms are referring to specialties and ideas that have been around for years prior to the introduction of the abbreviated terminology.
The most common misconception that you will hear in the workplace, in client meetings and often in job listings or job requirements is the inadvertent combination or interchange of the terms. In many cases, the incorrect expectation is that an interface designer by default understands or focuses on user experience because their work is in direct contact with the user. The simple fact is that user interface is not user experience. The confusion may simply be because both abbreviations start with the letter “U”. More likely, it stems from the overlap of the skill-sets involved in both disciplines. They are certainly related areas, and in fact many designers are knowledgeable and competent in both.
As Rahul Varshney, Co-creator of Foster.fm puts it:
“User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) are some of the most confused and misused terms in our field. A UI without UX is like a painter slapping paint onto canvas without thought; while UX without UI is like the frame of a sculpture with no paper mache on it. A great product experience starts with UX followed by UI. Both are essential for the product’s success.
UI is short for “User Interface.” In the software world, this means everything that shows up on the screen: the images, text, diagrams, and widgets as well as their color, size, and positioning.
UX stands for “User Experience.” It’s much more comprehensive than UI. It’s the entire experience a user has when they use your product! When you order something from Amazon and it comes a day early, that’s good UX. When your phone doesn’t wake you up with notifications, that’s good UX too.
A great user experience meets the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother, simply giving customers what they say they want. UX is the: what, when, where, why, how, and who of a product. Pretty much everything that affects a user’s interaction with that product.
UI refers to the aggregation of approaches and elements that allow the user to interact with a system. This does not address details such as how the user reacts to the system, remembers the system and re-uses it.