UI Vs UX: The Growing Importance to Know the Difference

If I have to give the most simple explanation then, UI aka User-Interface is every element that is designed to allow a user to interact with a website or an application.

The visual elements like buttons, icons, including the display screen and mouse which is used to interact with the device, constitutes UI.

UX or user-experience emphasizes on the internal experience that a user gets interacting with the device or product.

If I have to speak in context to website designing, then a UI designer will focus on the color and shape of a button, while the UX designer will focus on the resolution and decide the logical place for the element, so the user will easily find it on the website.

But, generally speaking, UI and UX are the most confused terms. Unless you are someone who has been a professional, it’s common to see people mix up the two words and they could not be more wrong.

So the conclusion?

They are certainly related, but,

UI ≠UX

What is (UI) User-Interface?

Definition:

Everything that is designed on a website or application that allows a user to interact constitutes UI’

Purpose:

`To improve usability and the user-experience.’

Do you have to write commands for accessing the website or application? This is just something unthinkable for this digital era, right?

Well, that was what people did when the first computer came. There were no interface elements until the GUI was developed in 1981 and that included Windows, pull-down menus, icons, buttons, and scroll bars. And today with the advanced Smartphone technology and emerging mobile applications, we have mobile UI operating through special features like touch controls.

This explanation was much needed to make you clearly understand the importance of UI while accessing an application or a website. I could have straightaway given you the complex definition but that would get you nowhere.

From GUI today we have the most advanced UI designers designing layout designs for the products like websites and applications.

UI Elements used but not limited to,

Input Controls: Radio buttons, drop-down lists, checkboxes, list boxes, buttons, text fields, data fields, toggles, and etc.

Informational Components: Progress bar, message boxes, icons, notifications, modal windows.

Navigational Components: Icons, slider, tags, pagination, search field, breadcrumb.

Containers: Accordion (Vertically stacked list with show/hide functionality)

UI: The Core Design Principles

Clarity:

The sole purpose of UI designing is to guide users interacting with the device or application. If a button is being designed it should be given clear names so they find it easier to take actions.

Flexibility:

Between a mockup and live, an app should not lose its shine. The design should look good all the time, even when filled with code.

Familiarity:

Bringing creativity into everything may create uncertainty for the user working through your website or application. Familiar patterns and items will keep users at ease using an uncertain app.

Efficiency:

The UI designs are efficient if you are able to perform different functions of the website or application in less time and effort.

Consistency & Structure:

Designers should aim for creating a cohesive design system that is focused on maintaining consistency in aesthetics and behavior.

What is (UX) User-Experience?

Definition:

Abbreviated as UX, user-experience focus on the internal experience a user gets when interfacing a system, website, or an application.

Purpose:

‘Support ease of use and increase the value of system through utility, efficiency in performing tasks back and forth.’

Now, why did you choose that particular hair salon and spa? What impression did you get as you walked in? Was there a receptionist to attend you? Did you wait for too long? Were you offered refreshments while you waited? How was the beauty service? Will you visit again?

A user’s salon experience, if he/she enjoyed the visit, I’m pretty much that person is going to visit the place again for the service.

Likewise, a user decides whether he should return to use the system or website or application based on the experience he gets using the product.

According to Don Norman, former UX architect, Apple, ‘No product is an island. A product is more than a product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences.

Looks pretty much complicated for an amateur, including me. So I simplified the concept through giving you an example about the salon. Hoping you are clear about things, let me move on.

UX: The Core Design Principles

A Good First Impression:

Experience doesn’t have to always underlay physical interaction; it can also be a visual form. Take the example of that salon again. How did you feel/what impression did you get as soon as entered the salon?

Be it a website, an application, or a device, a user should understand what he is set to get in the first impression.

The best example is when you sign up for MailChimp, you get a confirmation screen that clearly explains what to expect next or what you have to do with a clear set of instructions.

Limit Distractions:

Respect user’s attention span. Too much of a choice can cause a distraction for the users. Create a simple, efficient path so the user can focus on just one task at a time.

Let’s take the example of a form- You can avoid inline labels, ask information that is necessary, provide brief introductions to avoid confusion, and don’t forget to add field validation.

Support Reversible Actions:

Everyone commits mistakes, even your app/website user does, so let it not be the final scene.

For instance, if the user deletes an important file, he should be given an option to restore the file. There should no such scenario that data would be lost forever. For options should be given to undo mistakes.

Provide Feedback:

Acknowledge their actions, otherwise, they would be kept waiting forever for the actions they carried out. Suppose they have entered an incorrect password, there should be a clear message about the same, so users will get a clear picture of the status of their actions.

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