The terms UX and UI are tossed around our industry like a hot potato—but, have you ever really stopped to consider the difference?
What is UX?
UX, or user experience, is not about the look or feel of a site, rather it focuses on the functionality and user interaction.
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
— Steve Jobs
By understanding user data and behaviors, the goal becomes keeping the user engaged by providing them with the information they are looking for, while simultaneously driving them to complete a specific goal for that webpage.
As the name suggests—it’s all about the user. If your UX is on point, you will understand users so well that you’ll be able to anticipate their decisions before they’re made.
What is UI?
UI picks up where UX leaves off and focuses on the aesthetics of a design. Think of UI design or user interface design like this:
User Interface Design = Visual Design + Interaction Design.
Visual design is the look and feel of the site, which is defined by the company’s brand and its “personality.” Interaction design is based, obviously, on the way users interact with your site. If the user clicks a button, how do they know the action was successful? Does it change colors or symbols? Are they led to another page?
“Good UI design gives users a comprehensible sense of power that consistently helps them feel in control.”
— Jim Nielsen
Which is more important?
In short, the answer is neither—to truly deliver an integrated customer experience across a brand we must incorporate and balance both. UX makes interfaces useful(relevant), UI makes interfaces beautiful(engaging).
“Design isn’t just wireframes or visual style; it’s about the product as a whole.”
— Sahil Lavingia
A beautifully designed website will die a slow and painful death if user flow is not based on where they are in their customer journey and overall brand experience isn’t taken into account.
However, a site with amazing functionality will fall equally as flat if there is not a focused aesthetic.