UI vs. UX: What’s the Difference?

If you have been around the fields of web design and web development, you have probably heard the words user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) throw around. With two very similar terms, discerning the difference isn't always easy. Here’s the difference between the two and why they matter to you, your business, and your website.

UI – User Interface:

User interface is the design of the site or app. It is the elements that impact the look and feel of your site. From the way the buttons are designed, to the font choices, to the images used. They are all elements of the user interface. Think of it as the pieces that a user interacts with directly — the little design elements that create a website or app as a whole.

UX – User Experience:

User experience is the overall experience that a user has on your site. If your site is easy or hard to use or if there is some portion of the site that is confusing — that is a callback to user experience. Often the user experience is impacted by the user interface; however a gorgeous user interface is no guarantee of a great user experience. If UI is form, then UX is function.

Insight into UX is often drawn directly from the visitors of a website. This can be done any number of ways, from interviews, to analytics, to user testing. If UI is the design of the site, then UX is the science behind those design choices that makes the site that much more useful to the audience.

Form + Function = WIN

It’s when UI and UX work together that truly awesome websites are created. When the form and function of a site support its overall goal and the users are treated to not only a lovely visual experience, but also an intuitive and easy to navigate experience as well. Not all websites excel in both areas. Take Amazon.com, for example. It’s not particularly beautiful, but it is very functional and provides a great user experience. There are also many beautiful websites that are on the cutting edge of web design; however they may be difficult for users to use. To really stand out from your competitors a websites should balance both UI and UX, form and function.

When designing your website, always keep the big picture in mind. Don't focus only on design elements. Remember how the users will interact with those elements. By incorporating both UI and UX design at the beginning of your design process, you will ensure your site is not only good looking, but that it provides your users an excellent experience that makes it easy for them to purchase your goods and services.

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