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User Experience or User Interface?

UX, UI, Potato, potahto, right? Not really. User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design are not the same thing. Unfortunately, they are two of the most commonly confused and misused terms in digital design. We live and breathe both so we thought we’d share what UX and UI mean to us here at Big Human.


The quick and dirty is:

UX = A user’s journey. The experience of using the product to achieve a goal like buying a pair of shoes, downloading a song or making a reservation.

UI = Look and feel of the face (hence interface) of the product. Elements such as color, typeface, illustration that the user encounters when using the site.

The first step to getting UX and UI straight, is to understand them within the broader context of product design. We use products—digital and physical—everyday. We can all rattle off a list of products we love and those we don’t. It’s (highly) likely that the products we feel positively about are also the easiest to use. This is because of a very simple but powerful truth: great products solve real problems with as little effort as possible required from the user.

While UX can technically apply to both digital and physical products, we think of it within the digital context.

Digital UX

For us, UX is something we keep top of mind when designing products and websites. It’s how we imagine and optimize all the ways a person can engage with a given product.

UX design involves a lot of visualization. We use research and data to visualize how users traverse a product and how that leads to decision-making. In digital is a key part of on-boarding, registration and checkout flows.

Strong UX is intuitive. It helps people find the info they need, make a purchase or register for class helps guide people to find the information they fun, straightforward and frictionless.

So What is UI?

User Interface design is the process designers use to create a look or style and is primarily concerned with the overall feel. It is the part of the design process that focuses on the face of a product. The objective of interface design is to grasp the feeling of the site and to use design—color, typography, imagery—in conjunction with UX to support the product and the things users are trying to do with it. This doesn’t necessarily mean beautifying a product, it simply means aligning design with function. For better or worse, people can be quite superficial, connecting product quality, efficacy and price with aesthetic appeal.

When it comes to great interface design, less is better. Concentrate on the essentials and keep things simple. First impressions matter and the interface is your product’s face to the world.

That's It!

Together UX and UI are the skeleton and the skin of digital product design. One without the other leads to bad design and if either is weak, the whole product suffers. For more on user experience, user interface or both, check out some of our recent work or [give us a shout](! We’re always down to talk shop.

September 26, 2019TIL