UI & UX: What’s The Difference Between Them?

UI & UX: What’s The Difference Between Them?

December 27, 2018 0 By Ideaction
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Let’s go back to basics for a bit and talk about UI/UX. UI & UX are two terms that get thrown around a lot. However, often it’s not clear what these terms mean, especially to an outsider. At Ideaction, we often work with clients who are non-tech and have to explain what exactly we provide when talking about UI & UX. Similarly, sometimes developers don’t give too much thought to the terms and can sound a bit confusing to clients.

With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at what UI & UX means, and break down both terms in a simpler way.

What Is UI?

UI stands for user interface. Basically it represents the way through which a user interacts with an application or website. When computers only started to appear, they didn’t have much in terms of user interface, with some even using punched cards to input commands and data.

As computers evolved, they switched to the command line interface, which many of us still remember and even use. The command line interface presented as a black screen with a line for user input. 

The revolution in user interface came in 1970, when the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center developed the Graphic User Interface (GUI). GUI was first adopted by Apple in its first Macintosh computers and later Microsoft used it for its first Windows operating system. 

Today, everything you see on your computer and everything you click, type in, open, etc. is possible due to GUI. In this way, GUI is an essential part of both UI & UX. 

In software development, UI focuses on maximizing the usability. Therefore, it’s an essential part of UX, which we will discuss further. 

What Is UX

UX represents user experience. It covers pretty much everything that a user sees and interacts with in an app or website. In a paper published in Interacting with Computers journal, UX is explained as:

“The goal of user experience design in industry is to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty through the utility, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction with a product.”

In this way, UX includes everything related to the end-user experience. It doesn’t only focus on the usability, but also on the design and aspect of the website or application. Even things like the domain name and logo are part of user experience.

UI & UX: What Are The Differences?

We have already outlined what each UI & UX stand for. Therefore, it’s pretty clear to understand what the differences between them are. However, there are also some subtle things worth mentioning.

In broad terms, UI focuses on how the user interacts with the software. UX’s aim is what the user sees and how he feels when he interacts with the application.

To get a better idea about the differences between UI & UX, I’ve reached out to one of our designers. In his opinion, the main difference is between the approach to developing the product.

Because UI is part of UX, a UX developer can also handle the UI aspect. However, things aren’t as easy the other way around. UX is a much more complex dimension of software development and requires many additional skills compared to UI. In addition to writing code, a UX designer must also be creative and imaginative in order to visualize the final product.

However, there is an exception. In case the product is for internal use, or is a Minimum Viable Product, it can include a simple design. Later on, as the product evolves and is released to the public, it can include a more sophisticated UX. The company can even consider contracting a specialized UX agency, which can provide a new and better perspective.

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