UI vs. UX – What’s the Difference?
If you’ve been around web design, you may have heard the terms “UI” and “UX”. What do they mean and how can you tell the difference?
For starters, UI stands for “user interface” and UX stands for “user experience”. Both have to do with web design, and making sites as usable, simple and efficient as possible, but they go about it in slightly different ways.
User experience deals with the usability of the site. It’s behavior-based. For instance, what is the user’s click-path off the homepage? How are you asking them to navigate? Is information easy to find? All of these questions deal with optimizing the effectiveness of a user’s action or click. Sites should be easy to use and behave as expected – misleading your user goes against a positive user experience. Another benefit of good UX is that it makes it simple for a site administrator to track goals. Determining what you want your users to be able to do on the site and then optimizing the user experience to simplify those actions is the key.
User interface, on the other hand, is essentially how things are set-up for the user to interact with. It’s information-based and deals with where content is placed on the page based on the site’s information architecture. Smart user interface design demonstrates a good understanding of the user’s needs and displays a nice balance between functionality and visuals.
A sub-set of user interface is a term called “graphic user interface”. While UI deals specifically with the blueprint of the site, graphic user interface is how it’s skinned – the colors, images, fonts, etc. that the user sees. Graphic user interface is one of the pieces that help to set the tone of the site. It establishes a look and feel for aesthetic appeal, while maintaining an efficient and user-friendly site.