They aren’t really the same as most confuse it to be.
In the world of ergonomic interface design, we often talk about UX to design the user experience and UI, acronym for the user interface, for graphic design. It happens that these two notions specific to UX Design and its fields merge, while they represent two specific and therefore different disciplines. And if, however, UX is a complete design process and moreover includes the UI, these two terms do not really assimilate between them. Neither from a theoretical point of view nor from a practical point of view.
UX = User eXperience
UI = User Interface
It is the meeting point between you and a product, which allows you to interact with it.
Let’s try to make a clear difference between UX and UI, in order to reveal their relationships of reciprocity and complementarity.
UX is not UI
UX Design refers to the analysis of how users feel when using a web interface, mobile application or interactive software. The expert in charge of this study is called a UX Designer. Its task is therefore to optimize and improve the user experience (UX) based on tests carried out on the various possible user paths. The results obtained allow it to design a user experience as pleasant as possible and in order to facilitate users in their search for information.
What is UX?
UX Design is therefore defined as the set of means implemented to design an interface that fully meets the usability needs of each user. The goal is to provide the best possible user experience.
UX design applied to a website, defining a good user experience, is:
- Make it accessible and easy to use thanks to its ergonomics, appearance, consistent design and intuitive features
- Make it credible, because of its reassuring use
- Make it compatible, i.e., usable by users regardless of the digital medium (Smartphone, tablet, large screens)
What is UI?
With the UI, the user interface, we enter the register of information technology and more specifically in the design of human-machine interface (HMI). Its purpose is to improve a user’s interaction with the interface. The UI designer is therefore the person in charge of creating a pleasant and useful interface for users. According to the rules and methods dedicated to the ergonomics of interfaces, he designs and positions the various graphic and textual elements of a web interface for example. Its objectives are to facilitate the navigation of Internet users by offering them intuitive, useful, and practical ergonomic elements.
It is possible to classify the user experience into 6 main steps corresponding to a multitude of parameters that the UI designer must take into account in the interface UX design process:
- Visibility: need to optimize SEO upstream of the design project
- Accessibility: create a site compatible with all the different technical media and mobile and touch terminals
- Attractiveness: choose a design that conforms to pleasant, useful, intuitive and practical ergonomics
- Ease: ergonomics should make it easier to find information
- Credibility: showcase of the brand, the site must reassure and convince Internet users
- Efficiency: Internet users must easily and easily find the answers to their questions
Two concepts that, despite everything, cannot be dissociated.
Like the iceberg, with two parts, one visible and the other invisible, the UX and the UI are inseparable. At least, their complementary relationships make these two areas intertwine. If the UX designer focuses mainly on the emotional and psychological aspect of the user experience, while the UI designer is based on all the ergonomic and practical elements used to create an interface, the FACT REMAINS THAT THE UI needs to be complemented by the UX approach in order to reflect and design an interface fully centered on users.
In Easier Terms…
UI is the visible part of the UX
UX is a mix of visible parts + invisible parts that together contribute to the overall user experience on the mobile app.
The UI is the “visible”, “perceptible” part of a product: it is what we see, hear, touch when using a mobile application for example.
The emerging part is the UI, and the whole iceberg is the UX.
The UI is part of the UX but is not everything
To summarize, let’s take an example with an object from everyday life:
- Product: the car, more precisely a Porsche.
- User: the driver (main user, but by extension, the passengers too, if there are any).
- Interface: the interior of the car: where there is what you need to use it, drive the car.
The seat, the dashboard, the steering wheel, the pedals and the gear lever are signifiers that form (all together) the interface; this is what allows you to drive. That said, there are other things that keep the car moving forward, and that you don’t need to worry about: it’s the hidden part of the iceberg.
- Experience: driving the car.
If the seat is comfortable, if the noise of the engine and the contact of your hands on the steering wheel are pleasant, if the car is beautiful (or in any case, that it represents you, gives a good image of you), if the sensations are strong, the brakes are effective, the steering is powered, etc., then your overall experience is positive!
In conclusion, remember that the UX is very different from the UI, even if the two complement each other and are essential in the design of a web project. The first concept comes upstream of the second.