The difference between UI and UX and why it matters

User experience and user interface are two components of web design. While similar, the two have distinct differences that set them apart. Given the similarities between the two, many people often confuse them. In this blog, we set out the difference between UI and UX and why it matters.

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What is user experience (UX)?

User experience (UX) in web design influences a website user’s satisfaction by improving the ease of use, convenience, and functionality. The aim is to create a website that delivers relevant and meaningful experiences.

User experience in web design refers to how the elements on a website make the user feel and help them achieve their goals. It includes all the touchpoints a user has with your brand, whether it’s a landing page, checkout, or sign-up form.

Typically, user experience indicates whether a user is likely to stay on your site and has an impact on conversion rates. User experience design, therefore, focuses on designing a website that seeks to improve the user experience.

Many factors can help improve the user experience including:

There are several factors which determine the best approach for implementing these elements into a web design. A combination of research, understanding your users, and testing all help improve the user experience.

User experience design has distinct categories that influence the overall user experience. These categories are:

  • Interaction design – how a user interacts with the website.
  • Visual design – use of visuals, such as images and colour, to enhance the user experience.
  • User research – determining users’ wants and needs to tailor your design to solve their problem.
  • Information architecture – structuring and labelling content so that it’s easy to find.

Implementing user experience design into a project has several stages:

  1. Understanding the needs and pain points of your users. Using customer research methods plays a crucial role here.
  2. Develop buyer personas from the information obtained through your research.
  3. Mapping out the user’s journey and identifying how they may interact with your site.
  4. Develop website wireframes to plan the layout of page elements.
  5. Creating prototypes of your design to test the user experience and iron out any bugs or issues.

What is user interface (UI)?

User interface focuses on human-computer interaction and is how a user will interact with your website. User interface design focuses on predicting how users interact with a website and ensuring your design has all the necessary elements to achieve that.

Any part of a website that a user interacts with is part of the user interface. There are four main elements of the user interface:

  • Navigation – any elements that help a user navigate a site, such as links and navigation menus.
  • Input controls – any on-page elements that require user input, such as forms, checkboxes, and text fields.
  • Information –elements that provide information to the user, such as a loading bar or progress bars on videos.
  • Containers – help to split content into segments or sections that make it easier to process and understand.

User interface design focuses on how each of the above elements works together to improve the navigation of a site and increase the visual aesthetics. Interactivity, visual design, and informational architecture all play a role in shaping user interface design.

How are UX and UI different?

While user interface and user experience may work well together, the two have significant differences. Firstly, user experience focuses on the user’s feelings, whereas user interface is concerned with the visual design and functionality.

Another difference between UX and UI are the goals between the two. User experience will focus on creating prototypes and wireframes that will set the basis for user flow. The user interface will focus on finalising the design for user engagement.

Another significant difference between the user interface and user experience is the level of detail needed for each. User experience design is more high-level to ensure a fully realised and consistent user flow. The user interface ensures each design element is functional and polished.

Why does both UI and UX matter?

Both user interface and user experience are crucial components of a successful web design. User experience is important for several reasons. A design that generates a positive user experience can help a business to benefit from:

  • Better customer loyalty and retention
  • Greater brand reputation
  • Gaining a competitive edge
  • Higher sales and revenue
  • Increased conversions
  • Stronger positive word-of-mouth

A design that focuses on the user and their needs ensures that you deliver value by addressing users’ pain points. By using a user testing approach to UX design, you can eliminate potential usability issues that may occur.

The user interface is important for ensuring a positive user experience. Some of the reasons why user interface is important include:

  • Creating a strong first impression
  • Improving the user experience
  • Building user engagement
  • Improves usability and accessibility
  • Strong brand identity
  • Meets user expectations
  • Supports site functionality

How does UI and UX work together?

The user experience and interface work together to help improve a site and deliver value to a user. User experience and user interface design should be combined to create a website that looks aesthetically pleasing, functional, and easy to navigate.

The user experience and interface will impact one another, and both disciplines share a similar aim in preparing a path for a better web design.

Neither user experience nor user interface can work effectively without the other. Both elements will work together to create a positive experience by ensuring your website is attractive, easy to use, and simple to navigate.

Both user experience and user interface need to work flawlessly to complement one another in line with user expectations. Doing so will ensure an excellent interface that contributes towards a positive user experience. That way, you can ensure your web design works for your users and continues to deliver value.