Four Key Differences between UI and UX
The terms UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) seem to be synonymous, but they aren’t the same. UI is, in fact, the subset of UX.
User Experience (UX) is usually described as an individual’s feeling or emotions while interacting with a system or a product. These emotions together combine to form the person’s thoughts and perceptions about the system on various aspects such as ease of use, utility, and efficiency.
As UI is what is used to interact with the system, it essentially makes it a part of the overall user experience. For instance, a Television’s on-screen menu and the remote used to navigate it, form the user-interface that an individual can use to interact with the device.
On the other hand, the clarity of the screen, the vibrancy of the visuals delivered by the entertainment programs, the quality of sound, the external add-ons, etc., together constitute the experience of the user. However, the TV remote plays a vital role in helping the user to enjoy the holistic experience and is an essential part of the UX. Discussed below are some of the key features that can help us understand the differences between UI and UX in a better way.
The User Interface is concerned with the tangible features of the design, whereas the User Experience focuses on the intangible aspects. In other words, a person can both see and touch the design of the physical interface of a system, whereas the experience can only be felt.
A flight simulator, for instance, will have all the controls that are used in the real aircraft. Trainee pilots can handle them by physically switching them on and off, which is almost the same way as they would during a real flight. However, the experience of flying the real aircraft would be totally different. It’s because the aspects such as the responsibility of the passengers’ safety and the consciousness of maneuvering through the sky at incredible altitudes are totally intangible.
Every system has a console that can be accessed to perform a defined task, which is nothing but the user interface. Contrastingly, the level of accessibility delivered by it describes the user experience. For instance, the UI of a standard ink-jet printer has a set of buttons that can be used to obtain the printout.
It also includes a tray to hold the sheets, and a roller to adjust them before printing. Also, it includes a power cable and the network cable, which can be used to connect it to the computer or the internet. It also includes a place for the cartridges to fit in.
Subsequently, the UX is about designing the buttons, the tray and the roller in a way that ensures the users put minimal effort in getting their prints. The distinct colors of the primary buttons and the clarity of instructions to use them, the length of the power cable, the effort required to plug-in the cartridges, the quality of the print, etc., all add up to define the UX of the printer.
The ability to make a product functional starts with equipping it with a functional UI, which means it should allow the user to perform the desired functions with ease. UX, on the other hand, is about identifying and including the features that can enhance the performance and durability of the product. It also includes identifying and removing the features that are a cause for concern to the users.
It’s because customers can appreciate the functions provided as part of the interface, which makes the UI worthy of delivering the desired functionalism. However, the presence of some extra-features or the absence of unique features they demanded can even make them averse, which in turn, could affect the UX.
The objective of UI design is to craft an interface that caters to the general perception of the interactive interface. The functional aspects such as look-and-feel, navigability, consistency, etc., are the primary goals of a UI designer. It’s their duty to ensure that everything is right with the color scheme, graphic design, navigation design, and the functional architecture. It means, UI specifically deals with the functionality of the interface and with a goal of delivering an end product, which is consistent with the brand’s identity.
UX Design is more about the analytical strategy with an objective of providing the best possible experience. UX designers, therefore, need to have a deep understanding of the users’ needs, and the ability to design the inclusive experience around those needs. Using UX elements such as user scenarios, user personas, prototypes and wireframes with designing workflows and analytical reports, the designers can build what the end-users are looking for.
As it appears, differentiating the UX from UI can be a bit unreasonable as there is a very thin line between the two. However, it can be concluded that UI is about designing aesthetically pleasing interfaces, while the UX helps users accomplish tasks that lead to an emotional connection.