The Difference Between UI and UX (Beginner’s Guide)

ui vs ux design

Have you ever heard the terms user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) and wondered if they mean the same thing? In web design, these terms are often used interchangeably. However, they mean very different things.

The way your site visitors perceive your website and engage with your site’s content is crucial to your overall success. That’s why having a clear understanding of user experience vs user interface design is something all website owners should prioritize, whether they hire a professional web designer to help build their site or learn website design and go it alone.

The Difference Between UI and UX

One of the main reasons UI meaning and UX meaning are confused so easily is because the terms were coined at very different times. In fact, the term user experience was first revealed by Don Norman in the 1990s while he was working at Apple.

It wasn’t until sometime later, though it remains unclear when, that the term user interface was coined. Adding to that confusion, user experience and user interface are often thought by people to be the same thing by some, overlap in some ways, or mean completely different things.

Let’s take a look at each.

UI Meaning

User interface (UI) is considered the environment in which humans and machines (computers) interact. The end goal of the user interface is to ensure the people interacting with your website designs can do so effectively.

In other words, UI is any design element that your site visitor may interact with while on your website. This includes things like:

  • Screens or touchscreens
  • Keyboards
  • Audio or video
  • Animations
  • Images including logos, photographs, and colour schemes
  • Buttons and links, including icons
  • Typography
  • Spacing
  • Responsive design

In all, the user interface of your website relates to web design and has an artistic feel to it. The way you design your website affects what your site visitors see, hear, and even feel while browsing your site.

What Makes for Good User Interface Design?

No matter what type of website you have – a blog, an online business, or even an eCommerce shop – the way you design your site’s interface makes a difference in whether people will enjoy visiting your website or even convert.

example of good user interface design

(Image Source)

Here are the things your UI design should always have:

  • Clarity: your site visitors should never have to guess what you’re trying to tell them or encourage them to do. It should be clear what the next action to take is.
  • Consistency: your website, and any extensions of it such as social media profiles, should have a consistent feel when it comes to overall layout and design. This breeds familiarity and boosts brand recognition.
  • Familiarity: as people interact with your website, no matter the platform, they should be able to use previous experiences with your site, products, or services, to continue their interactions easily.
  • Efficiency: good UI does not require site visitors to put a lot of effort into their results. Whether you want them to read your blog, click a call to action (CTA) button, or finalize a transaction, it should be quick, easy, and seamless.

UX Meaning

On the other hand, user experience (UX) is the experience your site visitors have as they interact with your website, products, and/or services.

user experience meaning

When it comes to creating a good user experience on your website, the following characteristics should be considered:

  • Usefulness: whatever you’re providing your site visitors must fulfill a need. If there is no purpose for what you’re providing, you will not be successful.
  • Credibility: your brand should be trustworthy. People want to do business with those they feel are established and credible.
  • Usability: your website must be simple and easy to use and there should be no misunderstandings.
  • Desirability: the overall look and feel of your website, products, and services must be visually appealing, without being overwhelming.
  • Accessibility: everyone should be able to access your website regardless of disability. In other words, the user experience should be the same for all site visitors, no matter how they access your site’s content.
  • Findability: being able to find important information on your website is the key to building a bigger audience. If there is a problem, your site visitor should be able to find an easy solution.
  • Value: there should be value in everything you provide site visitors. Every detail matters.

This “usability honeycomb,” developed by Peter Morville, is helpful in remembering how to create the perfect user experience for those visiting your website.

User Interface vs User Experience

Now that you know the meanings behind UI and UX independently, it’s safe to say the following:

  • UI design is related to the overall look and feel of a website – the more visually appealing, the more draw the website has.
  • UX design is related to how people interact with your website – the easier it is to navigate your site, the higher the likelihood of landing a conversion.

It’s important to remember that despite being two completely different terms, user interface and user experience do relate to each other as well, albeit in a tangled way.

You can have a beautifully designed website and attract a lot of traffic. But without a stellar user experience, it won’t matter how great the UI design is, you won’t reach your potential as a website owner.

The Role of Web Designers

If you’re ready to build a new website or give your existing one a facelift, understanding the differences between user interface and user experience will help a lot. This is especially true if you’re thinking about hiring an Australian web designer to help you out. After all, if you invest in a professional to help you out, you’ll want to make sure they know the meanings of UI and UX.

The Role of a UI Web Designer

Here are the things you should look for in a web designer that’s focused on good UI web design:

  • Ability to create highly responsive web design that looks good on all screen sizes and device types
  • Attention to detail when it comes to all things visual – branding, graphics, user guides, and design research included
  • Expertise in how the overall look and feel of a website appeals to a target audience and convinces them to convert
  • Experience in turning wireframes for websites and turn them into a reality

The Role of a UX Web Designer

Here are the things you should look for in a web designer that’s focused on good UX web design:

  • An understanding of your target audience and what their needs are in terms of site usability, products, and services
  • The ability to create a design strategy and follow it through, while also taking into consideration your needs
  • Expertise in how people behave and interact with elements on websites as they follow your expected customer journey

Final Thoughts

Choosing a web designer with experience in both UI and UX can be tough if you don’t know what you’re looking for. It can be even harder when you take on a task of this size on your own, even if you do know the differences between user interface and user experience.

Luckily, here at Keen to Design, we have what you need whether you want to spruce up the visual appeal of your website or improve the user experience and land more conversions. So, contact us now and see how we can help.

Not only do we know what it takes to design a beautiful website people will love from the moment they arrive, we know that the user experience is what takes things to the next level. Guiding your visitors through your site and taking action in the way you want them to is what we do best. And with affordable web design packages available, you can trust there’s an option for everyone, regardless of budget.

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Last Updated on: 21 January 2021
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