Let's Differentiate UX From UI

Let's Differentiate UX From UI

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Stephen Emmanuel
ยทOct 9, 2020ยท

4 min read

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Hi everyone and welcome to my first article on UI/UX. I started learning UI/UX recently and have decided to write on the difference between UI and UX.

Basically, UI is an acronym that means User Interface. UX stands for User Experience. Since their advent, UI have been unarguably mistaken for UX - and vice versa - even by "professionals". The reason is not far fetched. A lot of companies don't have the capacity to employ different people for the different job roles, hence they combine the two roles into one. Some even go as far as giving the frontend engineers the tasks that should be done by both the UI and UX designers.

From their names - User Experience and User Interface -, it can be seen that UI deals with the interface of a product while UX deals with the experience the user gets by using the product.

It is quite plausible to compare the difference between these two terms with the difference between concrete nouns and abstract nouns. For those of us that took English Grammar class seriously, we can recall that concrete nouns are those which can be seen or touched, e.g., cup, house..., while abstract nouns can only be felt e.g, emotions like happiness, sadness, anger.

Enough of the English Grammar class!

So the user interface deals with the aspect of the product that the user can see or touch while the user experience deals with that unseeable (I doubt this is a word) feeling the user derives and expresses while using the product. A UI designer asks what colors will be fitting for the project. He asks what the best typography to use is. He bothers himself about white spaces and whatever makes the product look immediately pleasing to the eye.

On the other hand, a UX designer asks himself what the user will prefer to do when he gets hold of the product. He studies the psychology of an average user. 'Will he prefer that the button is here or there?', 'After doing this what will the user likely be expecting?', 'How does he feel if it takes him a minimum of 5 seconds to locate the log in button ?', 'How will the cup feel in the hand of the user ?'. These are some questions he asks himself and tries to get answer to by various means.

The main aim of the UI designer is to make a product pleasingly appealing to the eye, while the UX designer aims to give the user maximum level of utility (satisfaction) and happiness by using the product.

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Let's take a careful look at this beautiful cup. It's beautiful, isn't it? It's the UI designer's job to choose the color for the cup. He decides if he wants patterns on the cup. Let's look at the cup again. The UX designer thinks, this cup is not going to be insulated so if the user holds the cup body and the content of the cup is hot, you'll probably be planning on recruiting more hand doctors because the number of hand burns will increase. What does he do to solve this problem, he decides to put a handle. The handle will even be more important because the cup is fat and holding the body directly causes a strain to the hands of the user and that's pain! I should be home using your product, not pained!

But there is a problem with this particular design. Check out the hole in the handle of the cup. I sincerely doubt that two of your fingers when you were born can comfortable rest in the hole. This causes pain to the fingers and it's easy to lose balance of the cup and the champagne you bought with your live savings goes merrily down to the floor. ๐Ÿ˜ญ And that is one major flaw the UX designer failed to take note of. He leaves his user heart broken, shattered. I doubt the user will ever reconcile with the company that produced the cup. (Remember to forgive and forget anyways ๐Ÿ˜€).

These are some of the thinking patterns of this two categories of designers that have been confused with one another since Norman coined the term user experience.

Note I used "products" a lot in the write-up. Products are all things that solves a need and a user has to interact with.

I hope in my little way, I have been able to oepn your eyes or further strengthen your knowledge of the difference between UI and UX.

You can drop comments to help me understand how to improve my future articles. Thank you for coming this far.

Signing out, Steph Crown โœŒ๏ธ.

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