What Are the Top Differences Between UX and UI?

UI designers discussing interface

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The new frontier of marketing has arrived, and it entails anticipating your users’ needs through UI and UX design.

In the marketing world, the hottest new buzzwords are UI and UX. While the terms may appear to be interchangeable, these two approaches to product design are actually quite distinct. Here’s why:

User Experience (UX) vs. User Interface (UI)

User interface design (UI) has a broader scope, but it typically refers to any type of interface with which a user may interact when using a product or service. User interface design is limited to digital products and focuses on mostly visual and aesthetic touch-points. Those who optimize their UI design have considered the look and feel of the product or website, the presentation from a human-centered standpoint, and the end-user interactivity. Some examples of user interfaces include the buttons on your kitchen appliance, the touchscreen on your smart thermostat, or any website or app that you use daily. The ultimate goal of UI design is to aesthetically delight your end-user and convert them into loyal fans of the product.

Consider some of the products you use and their designs. Have you ever purchased a product solely because you preferred its interface design to that of a competitor?

Top view of designers creative app interface for user experience design near layouts and digital

User experience design (UX) is a term coined in the 1990s that refers to all aspects of how a company’s services or products are interacted with by the end-user. The user experience design method can be applied to both physical and digital products and focuses on providing a seamless customer experience from start to finish. UX design implements solutions to problems that users may encounter throughout their interaction with a product. These solutions take precedence over a product’s aesthetic appearance. The Netflix “Play Something” feature, which takes the work out of finding a show or movie to watch, is an example of great user experience design. Another example is the feedback loops built into your apps or shopping experiences (for example, “How was your experience today?”). While we’ve all experienced these types of survey processes, most will agree that some feedback loops are noticeably better than others. The ultimate goal of UX design is to keep your customers coming back because they are so impressed with the ease and efficiency of your product or service (time and time again). Oh, and if the user doesn’t notice how simple the process was, that’s a plus.

Consider some of the products you use and the overall experience. Have you ever purchased a product solely because you preferred its function over another?

cropped view of designer holding website design template near gadgets on yellow background

Let us review. Aesthetics versus functionality in design.

At the end of the day, user interface design is all about aesthetics. How does a product appearance and feel in the user’s hands? Color palettes, animations, imagery, typography, buttons, and other structural aesthetic details are all used in user interface design.

Alternatively, UX is simply the design of the functionality. From the first interaction to the final touchpoint, how does a product or service work for the user? User experience design considers every aspect of a user’s interaction with a product or service and strives to make the end-to-end interaction as seamless and efficient as possible.

The UI and UX Design Process

Depending on the project or goal, the UI or UX design process can be extremely complex. If the task’s scope is large or unusual, an outsourced contractor or marketing firm with specialized UI design professionals may be the best option.

However, if you want to try a smaller UI or UX design project on your own, there are some common best practices to keep in mind as you go through the process.

Here are some examples of common UI Design practices:

  • A simple interface with clear language and element design
  • Color, light, and contrast are strategically used to draw attention to important elements.
  • Typography that is legible, clear, and appropriate for the overall design
  • Consider using defaults to make the interface more user-friendly.
  • Improve your user’s built-in feedback loops by incorporating visual cues or simple messaging.
  • Here are some examples of common UX Design practices:
  • Keep your user experience simple and consistent, just like your UI design.
  • Strive for functionality over beauty – the product’s core function must be functional.
  • Don’t work alone, and remember that while you may know your audience, you are NOT the audience.
  • Test, test, and test some more! Include feedback loops and touchpoints to learn more about your user’s goals, challenges, and needs.
  • If you’re updating an existing digital product, start with data (for example, where are your users currently falling off your sales funnel and why?)

The Advantages of UX and UI Design

Let us count the ways in which good UI and UX design benefits a product or service. Of course, there’s the obvious advantage of increased conversions, sales, and user adoption. Everyone benefits when your product is easier to use or more aesthetically pleasing.

Aside from sales, making your product more accessible and easily accessible for user feedback ultimately benefits both the product creator and the end-user. For example, the original design of your app did not take into account people with visual impairment. Because of a built-in feedback loop as a result of improved UX design, you realize you’re missing out on an entire market segment. You and a UX UI Designer Team can make a few simple changes to the interface and overall functionality for those who use screen-reading software… and presto! Your app eventually becomes more functional, your sales increase, and your community becomes more welcoming to all.

UX designer creating website layout

Bringing UI and UX together to create a better website

While UX and UI design can be applied to a wide range of products, let’s look at how it can affect a website.

UI design can make your website more visually appealing, accessible, and easy to use. A professional UI design team can improve the typography, color, contrast, and texture of your current website. A beautiful and simple-to-use website results in a satisfied user!
UX design can completely transform your website. A professional user experience design team can improve your user experience so that it is more functional, efficient, and accessible. A UX designer can also assist you if you are unsure how to incorporate an effective feedback loop into your website. A website with fewer consumer pain points means more long-term fans of your brand!

While UI and UX are doable, they are similar to coding. To properly implement UI or UX design, years of professional knowledge, experience, and a thorough understanding of the back-end of web design are required. Without a doubt, professional ability will be important in this new frontier of digital marketing!

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