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UX vs UI: key differences explained

I am quite sure that you've heard lots of people discussing about poor UX and/or great UI. But what are the main differences between UX and UI? This article will highlight the most important ones.


Just because there are some differences, it doesn't mean that user experience design and user interface design belong to two different worlds. In fact, UI and UX work together, with the goal of enhancing the user interface and the user experience.


User interface design reflects in the aspect of your product; it's what people see when they start your application, for example. On the other hand, user experience is a part of the design process which shapes the way in which people feel while they are interacting with your product.


UX depends on frequent user behavior testing. Often times, UX utilizes web analytics as the main data source. That data is then intelligently mapped to each website page, with the goal of evaluating individual user satisfaction. Then, new website prototypes are sketched, with the goal of improving customer sales and loyalty. UX designers make use of A/B testing to ensure that their target audience gets the best experience out of the product.


I have used website design as an example here, but the process is very similar if you are building a different type of product, or a web-based service.


So, UX has the main goal of increasing customer satisfaction, by improving the way in which people are interacting with your product. It's a complex task, and it requires lots of skills, starting with fully functional prototyping, testing, analysis, and so on.


UI designers are interested in creating products that look good and are easy to interact with. This explains why it is not a surprise that most people mistake UI for UX. However, UI designers are mainly responsible for graphic development. They take the prototype that was created by the UX designer, and then they turn it into a polished piece of work.


User interface designers will make sure that the end product includes all the needed input fields, no matter if we are talking about subscription forms, contact forms, clickable buttons, etc. They will also be the ones that create interactive sliders, social sharing buttons, and so on. One of their key responsibilities is to make sure that the end product runs fine on all the compatible devices. If it's a website, it should run properly on desktop PCs, tablets, smart phones, and so on.


As you can imagine, UX designers and UI designers will often times work in the same office. Normally, the UID will be coordinated by the UXD. Smaller companies employ a single UI/UX person, but this is seldom the best solution, unless that particular individual is highly skilled in both areas.


A product that has a great UI and a poor UX will look really good, but will make it very hard for people to use it. On the other hand, a product that has a poor UI and a great UX will look quite bad, despite being really easy to use. As you can see, none of these options are good.


So, whenever you plan to start a new project, be sure to take care of both UX and UI aspects of it. While most projects require a good-looking user interface, it may be tempting to skip over the UX aspects of your product. However, this will be a costly mistake, because it will significantly product sales.