Most of us have been part of tech-savvy conversations where lots of heavy talk regarding UX of products and UI of websites are thrown around. Many of us sat through such awkward conversations putting up an intrigued face yet worrying what kind of slangs are being used. But sadly, the terms carry significant meaning and widespread application in the modern world.

Although the terms UI and UX have been used interchangeably to a large extent, they are two different aspects. Through this article, we shall break down both the terms and explain their implications from a layman’s perspective.

The basic difference in their meanings

Before we kickstart the discussion about what the two terms imply in real-world applications, let us understand what they mean. What the tech-savvy persons are bombastically blabbering about the professions of the tech world. These two professions have been theoretically existent for centuries, yet the industry refers to them as UI and UX design.

UX stands for User experience, whereas UI refers to the User interface. Both aspects are fundamental for tech products and work hand-in-glove with each other. Their professional relationship might tie them together, but they do differ significantly in their roles. They also differ in the various aspects of the product development and design procedure. Let us understand what each of these roles involves and hence try to understand the key differences.

User Experience or UX design
UX design is a humanitarian way of product designing. The term was coined by a cognitive scientist Don Norman in the 1990s. He describes it by saying that User experience involves every aspect of the end user’s interaction with the products, services, and the company itself. This definition, although, doesn’t quite refer to the technological paradigm. Yet, irrespective of the medium, UX design encompasses every interaction that an active or potential customer might have with a company. Despite being a scientific term, it has widely been applied in the digital field.

Technologically, UX can be applied to anything that provides an experience such as a website or an application. The experience refers to the interactive session that the user has with the service or product. The design that shapes this experience is hence understood as UX design.

The job of a UX designer is to think about the ways that the experience can impact on the user. How easily the experience accomplishes the desired outcomes of the user. For instance, how easily a mobile banking app helps a user manage his account? The sole objective of UX design is to provide an efficient, relevant ad easy experience to the end-user. It is rather involved with the overall feel of the user than the visuals offered.

What jobs does a UX designer do?
A UX designer plays many roles and manages multiple responsibilities. She functions as part-designer, part-marketer, all the while acting as part-project manager. The job description is complex and has many facets to it.
• She has to deal with content and its stratification.
• She then deals with the prototyping and wireframing of the product.
• The testing of the many different iterations is done.
• The planning the development phases.
• Execution of the design and analytics processing comes at the end.
The collective aim of a UX designer is to connect the user requirements to the business goals through various processes of testing and continuous refinement towards an ultimate satisfactory level on both sides.

User Interface and UI design
The user interface is older when compared to user experience. Therefore, it comes with a wider share of misinterpretations. The user interface can be said to be the complement of User experience. The look and presentation of the product are under the spotlight now. UI design, unlike UX, is strictly associated with digital technology.

The user interface is technically the interaction point where the user and the digital product cross paths. For instance, the touchscreen of a smartphone is the UI for the user and the phone. When it comes to online applications and websites, UI design concerns itself with the feel, look, and the overall interactivity of the product or service. It is involved with making the interface as intuitive as possible. Hence it involves careful introspection of every aspect such as color schemes, typography, icons and spacing, and responsive design, to name a few.

The role of a UI designer?
The role of a UI designer is similar to that of a UX designer is their multi-faceted aspects. The role is a challenging one and responsible for the transfer of the product’s development, content, research, and layout into a guiding, responsive, and attractive experience for the end-users. The key tasks of a UI designer are briefly stated below.
• Performing customer analysis and research on the design approach.
• Performing UI prototyping.
• Settling Responsiveness and interactivity of the products.
• Implementing the design with the developer.

The key differences between UI and UX
UI and UX complement each other and co-exist. Yet, a UI designer doesn’t necessarily have to have the skills of a UX designer and vice versa. The principal difference between UI design and UX design is: UX design involves the overall feel and experience of the user. UI design is concerned about the interface, functionality, and look of the product.

The UX designer has to consider the user’s entire journey and solve any problems related to it. Their focus is mainly on finding out the problems and painful areas of the users and coming up with suitable solutions for them. This involves extensive research, planning, wireframing, and finally creating blueprints of the products.

This is where the UI designer steps in and infuses life into the blueprint, or rather interfaces. She has to consider all the visual facets of the user’s journey. She then incorporates all the touchpoints and interfaces the user must encounter and map them out on the product. The UI designer not only focuses on the look and visuals of the product but also its inclusivity and accessibility.

Both the job profiles co-exist and cooperates to ensure that the user has a fulfilling, fully functional and a delightful experience with the product.

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AuthorAkshay Dafade
Akshay is the Lead UX Designer at Pepper Square and he has defined the user experience for some of the finest global brands over the last four years.
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