What is the difference between UX design and UI design?

by | Dec 23, 2023 | UI, UX | 0 comments

The terms UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) are very closely linked. Many people are aware of the subtle but crucial difference between the two aspects of product design. However, many people are unable to describe exactly what the crucial difference is at first glance. We have therefore summarized in detail how the two concepts ultimately differ and what is important for UI and UX in detail. This way, the mystery of UX vs UI no longer remains a mystery in professional product design.

Difference between UX and UI

In everyday life, the boundaries between UX vs UI are often blurred. The terms are often mistakenly used interchangeably or in unclear contexts. However, there are crucial differences that must be understood for successful product design in the interests of the user. In essence, the difference between UX and UI is about the difference in the visual perception of a website or app on the one hand and the user’s feeling when using it on the other. The two are certainly closely related, which is also the reason why user interface design and user experience design are often used together. However, the differences are particularly crucial for the successful design of a web application.


What is user interface or UI?

UI design or user interface design is about the visual perception of a web application by the user. It is about certain colors and shapes, but also about where certain buttons are arranged on a navigation bar, how icons on the page are similar or different and how uniform the look of the entire application is. At the same time, input fields in forms and the overall look of input pages should be both aesthetically pleasing and, above all, practical in order to leave an optimal impression on the user. The user interface therefore determines the surface on which a user interacts with the application. It determines how easy navigation appears to the user and how pleasant the user feels interacting with the machine. The central goals of user interface design are an intuitive, pleasant and efficient user experience.


UI: Interface for optimal human-machine interaction

Ultimately, the user interface is about the optimal design of the interaction interfaces between man and machine. In the world of web applications, a distinction is made between two aspects. On the one hand, it is about optimizing the graphical user interface. This refers to the interface itself, on which a user navigates using a mouse, keyboard or finger commands. There is also the web user interface. This refers to the design of interfaces that are displayed to the user via the Internet on a web browser.


What is user experience or UX?

Now that we have specified exactly what is meant by user interface in web design, let’s move on to what is commonly referred to as user experience. It should quickly become clear that there are crucial differences between these two aspects of web design. At the same time, however, it is also clear how closely these two concepts are related and that a good user interface designer cannot do without a good knowledge of user experience requirements.
User experience is primarily about the feelings, attitudes and views that a person has towards a product or service as a whole. The focus here is therefore on usability and the intuitive operation of the application. A user experience is achieved when the user has a good overall feeling when using the application. It quickly becomes clear that the user experience is a very subjective impression of the product. It is shaped by the user’s attitudes and experiences, but also by the specific purposes and expectations with which users approach the use of the product. It is therefore absolutely essential for successful user experience design to precisely identify the target group and types of users and to know their characteristics.


Thinking user interface and user experience together

The difference between UX and UI has now been discussed in detail. It should already be clear from the previous sections that user interface is unthinkable without user experience. We therefore want to take a closer look at how the two areas can be thought of harmoniously together without blurring the differences. It goes without saying that a beautiful product has no advantage whatsoever if it cannot be used or is so cumbersome to use that the user gives up in despair after just a few steps. It is also clear that user-friendly navigation is of little use if the product is not attractively designed. Nevertheless, there are points where aesthetics and usability conflict. Sometimes the most beautiful product design is not the easiest to use. And in some cases, aesthetics simply have to be sacrificed because the user’s purpose is so complex that the scope for design is limited. It is precisely in these borderline cases that it is crucial to think about user interface and user experience together and to carefully identify and eliminate conflicts. The finished product must always meet the high demands of users, and they are generally not willing to compromise on either their overall experience or the product design.


Biggest commonality: always focusing on the user

User interface design and user experience design are based on a central concept: the product must always be designed with the user in mind. This realization has not always been the basis of web development in particular. For a long time, technical developers were in charge, with little interest in the needs of less tech-savvy users. However, companies have now recognized the relevance of no longer developing products without the customer in mind. This has given UX and UI a huge boost. This new attitude in web development has also contributed to an increased spread of user research (UR) in many areas. After all, the first prerequisite for a successful UX concept is knowing the user and being able to assess their intentions and expectations. One effect of this is that products are no longer programmed in independent individual steps. It is particularly important here to control the entire user experience and guarantee consistently good usability across the entire product. This is the only way to ensure that the user remains satisfied and that UI and UX harmonize perfectly.


Conclusion: UX vs UI is a topic of difference and harmony

First of all, we have successfully worked out the difference between UX and UI. Everyone should now be able to easily explain that the user interface focuses on the design of the product, while the user experience is specifically about the actual experience users have with the product. These two concepts should never be lumped together. If the focus is only on one aspect, user-friendly web development can only fail. Ultimately, UX and UI must work together by interweaving aspects of both areas. The entire product must always remain in view and the focus must be on the individual characters of the users. Without user research as a perfect foundation, neither UI design nor UX design will work.