The Importance of User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX)

UI UX hand drawn wireframes

What is User Experience (UX)?

UX, which is a commonly used abbreviation for user experience, refers to the many dimensions of that experience like visual elements, interactive features and functional design. This can refer to nearly any physical or digital product that a company creates and a customer uses.

The goal of UX design is to make sure the experience of using a product is a positive and rewarding one. Since it’s a process that can be applied to such a wide range of products, there isn’t one unified process that defines UX design. It will be heavily influenced by the nature of your product.

What is User Interface (UI)?

The user interface is the point at which human users interact with a computer, website or application. The goal of effective UI is to make the user’s experience easy and intuitive, requiring minimum effort on the user’s part to receive the maximum desired outcome.

UI is created in layers of interaction that appeal to the human senses (sight, touch, auditory and more). They include both input devices like a keyboard, mouse, trackpad, microphone, touch screen, fingerprint scanner, e-pen and camera, and output devices like monitors, speakers and printers. Devices that interact with multiple senses are called “multimedia user interfaces.” For example, everyday UI uses a combination of tactile input (keyboard and mouse) and a visual and auditory output (monitor and speakers).

User Interface vs User Experience

User interface and user experience are related and equally important to the execution of a project, but the specifics differ. Mainly, UI is designed around the intended look and feel of the site, app or program while UX spans the entire process of conceptualization, development and delivery. Additionally, UX can be referenced in relation to nearly any product, while UI can only pertain to digital products.

The main differences between UX and UI are:

  • UX revolves around the purpose and functionality of the product, while UI focuses on the quality of the user’s interaction with the product.

  • UX involves components such as market research and identifying user needs, while UI has more artistic design components relating to the look and feel of the user’s experience.

  • UX focuses on overall project management from ideation through development and delivery, while UI more specifically focuses on the design of the finished product.

Designing a user experience begins by identifying the pain points of the target users and figuring out how to meet the needs of said users. This includes details such as logical flows or steps to take to reach a goal. Once the interface is programmed to be useful, the prototype is sent to a user interface designer, where the processes are made visually appealing.

Developing a user experience includes:

  • Overall execution and goal-tracking

  • Coordination with developers and UI designers

  • Integration and analytics

  • Content or product strategy

  • Wireframing, planning, prototyping, development, testing

Developing a user interaction includes:

  • Look and feel of the site/app/program

  • Branding and design research

  • Responsive adaptation

  • Interactivity, animation

  • Implementation

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