If you don’t work directly with UX and UI designs, there’s a good chance that you’ve always thought that they’re the same thing. While they share some similarities, this couldn’t be further from the truth. UX focuses on the user’s overall experience, while UI aims to improve the user interface. Still, the main differences between UX and UI go way deeper than that. Thus, you really should know more about them, which is why we’re here to cover them with you today.
UX Is the Backbone, UI Is the Face
The main reason these two designs are so easy to get confused with each other is that most of us only ever see the UI of a product. When we hear about User Experience, we assume that it has to do with the interfaces that we deal with regularly.
In reality, UX is the backbone of the entire operation, whereas UI is simply its face. All the work for the UX plays out in the background. Consumers never see it, so it’s easy to assume it’s all a part of the UI, even though the UI could never exist without it.
UX Covers Products and Services, UI Is the Interface
Because of this, it should be no surprise that UX has involvement with all aspects of a product or service, not just the interface, as UI does. It starts with the research phase, which is when a company figures out what people want and determines how they could potentially fulfill that desire. Once they’ve adapted a solution and put all the parts of it together, that’s when the UI team comes in and assembles it in a way that’s usable for the target audience.
UX Is More Analytical, UI Is More Emotional
Of course, this all goes a bit deeper than that. Companies’ products and services are about more than wants and desires. They’re also about helping their customers achieve their goals and do so in a way that feels good.
UX comes into play for that first part. All the background planning and design help users achieve whatever it is that they set out to do. Without them, the interface is just an empty screen that does nothing. UX design is all about the program’s analytics, which is what it needs to function.
As far as making the user feel good about accomplishing that goal, that’s where the UI does its thing. If a helpful program looks dull and lacks any form of appeal to the target audience, they’re not going to feel inspired to give the system a fair chance.
The UI team needs to appeal to their emotions and give them a reason to try this product or service. On top of that, they need to ensure it’s easy to use. No matter how good a program is, if the customer can’t figure out how to use it, they’ll move on to something better.
UX Focuses on Users, UI Focuses on Products
Even though one could argue that both UX and UI focus on the users, the UI is way more focused on the product side of things. UX fulfills a consumer need and persists across multiple manufactured goods to meet that need.
On the other hand, the goal of the UI design is to make that UX usable and attractive for that specific product. Occasionally, UIs will exist throughout a line of products, but that has more to do with branding than focusing on the user.
UX Comes First, UI Comes After
The final key difference between UX and UI that you should be aware of is the fact that the UX comes before the UI (most of the time). Since the UX is the backbone of the entire operation, this makes sense. You need to establish a need and how you’re going to fix it before you can move on to other stages.
However, if a single person or a small team is responsible for both the UX and UI, these processes might get mixed around a bit. Someone might start brainstorming ideas for a UI well before the UX has reached completion. In rare cases, the UI might even come first. If someone creates a UI for something else, it could inspire them to develop another UX system that uses the same UI.
Regardless of the order these come in, as long as you have a solid finished product, it doesn’t really matter. It’s just a good idea to begin with the UX if you’re completely starting from scratch.