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posted on November 20, 2017


Still a little blurry about the differences between UX and UI design? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

In general, UX means the experience a person has as they interact with your product and UI is the style, design, look, also feel of the product. That’s the simplest explanation of the UX and UI definition and subjects are limited with that kind of view. Keep reading for more details on the differences between UX and UI.

What is UX?

A deeper definition was given by Don Norman and Jakob Nielsen. “The first requirement for an exemplary user experience is to meet the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother. Next, comes simplicity and elegance that produce products that are a joy to own, a joy to use.

True user experience goes far beyond giving customers what they say they want or providing checklist features. In order to achieve high quality user experience in a company’s offerings, there must be a seamless merging of the services of multiple disciplines, including engineering, marketing, graphical and industrial design, and interface design.”

According to that, UX covering the user’s journey from A to Z including but not limited to:

  • The process they go through to discover your company’s product

  • The sequence of actions they take as they interact with the interface

  • The thoughts and feelings that arise as they try to accomplish their task

  • The impressions they take away from the interaction

Those are the role of UX designer to make sure that the company delivers a product or service that meets the customers need and makes them to smoothly get their desired output.

It is important to do the user research to know the context of the users of the product because those learnings can be used to mockup wireframes and make prototypes to direct the user from one window to the next.

What is UI?

Now that we've covered the basics of UX, it's time for its equally important counterpart. Business Dictionary once explained that UI is “Visual part of a computer application or operating system through which a user interacts with a computer or a software. It determines how commands are given to the computer or the program and how information is displayed on the screen.”

We can conclude that the role of UI designer is to work on websites, apps, wearables, and other programs. It means they will responsible for things like designing the look of a digital product’s interface and all the visual identity on all the pages or screen of the system.

What’s the difference between UX and UI?

To get a better understanding, here are the sayings from various experts on the subject.

  1. Ken Norton - Partner at Google Ventures, Ex-Product Manager at Google

“Start with a problem we’d like to solve. UX design is focused on anything that affects the user’s journey to solve that problem, positive or negative, both on-screen and off. UI design is focused on how the product’s surfaces look and function. The user interface is the only piece of that journey. I like the restaurant analogy I’ve heard others use: UX is everything from the food, to the service, parking, lighting, and music. UI is the table, chair, plate, glass, and utensils.”

2. Andy Budd - Co-founder of Clearleft, Founder of UX London

“Common logic would suggest that, if you design the UI, and a person experiences a product through the UI, that makes you a User Experience Designer. However, this would also imply that designing your own home makes you an architect, and fixing a tap makes you a plumber. Often the words used to describe a discipline end up being divorced from their original meanings. For instance architect literally, means “head mason” and plumber means “lead worker”. Two names which clearly no longer articulate or explain what that profession does. In a professional context “User Experience Designer” has a specific meaning and set of skills, based on a community of practice reaching back over 20 years. In this world, a User Experience Designer is concerned with the conceptual aspects of the design process, leaving the UI designer to focus on the more tangible elements.”

3. Patrick Neeman - Director of Product Design at Apptio, Founder of Usability Counts

“User Experience Design is the complete experience, and it may not be even on the screen. User Interface Design is generally visual design and information design around screens. UX goes back to the Nielsen Norman Group’s definition of UX - any touch point a user or customer has with a system, digital or not.”


Although they have differences, you cannot separate UX and UI. They must go hand in hand, nothing left behind. Put it this way. You build a house. UX without UI is as if you’ve got the frame and structure but it doesn’t look unified nor beautiful while UI without UX is like painting your house with great choices of colors, designing the interior with a tasteful style yet having your front door leading straight into your warehouse.

But, even though they go hand in hand, typically, UX design goes ahead of UI design. Why? Because you want to do research and decide the general workflow first. After you have it all settled, you can work on the UI design to make it feel like a beautiful and well-designed product.


Now, do you have a product but don’t know how to make a great UX and UI around it? You can click here to take a look at some website design and development projects that we’ve done for a wide range of clients or you can just contact us to discuss any possibilities regarding your product.

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