Many people tend to use the terms User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) interchangeably, though they are actually quite distinct. One way to think of the difference between the two is by using the analogy of something familiar, such as building a house.
A UX Designer Is The Architect
Let’s say you decide to have a house built for you and your family. There are many things to consider in making this house an enjoyable and usable place to live. You have to consider the square footage of the home, how many bedrooms you need, the number of stories, etc.
Now you need to hire people to make this dream home a reality. First, you will need an architect to design the home. The architect is responsible for taking what you want to create a house that fits your concept of a usable space that will bring joy to you and your family’s life.
The architect’s job is like that of a UX designer. Determining the layout of the house, figuring out the inner workings such as the pipes for the plumbing, and any other structural things that need to be included to make it user-friendly, comfortable, and a joy to live in is the job of the architect. And everything that goes into making a website or product user-friendly and workable is the job of the User Experience designer.
A UI Designer Is The Interior Designer
There is another important aspect of your dream home that you must consider. Your home can have the correct number of bedrooms, the open kitchen concept that you love, and a large walk-in shower. But what if the kitchen cabinets look outdated, the walls are painted a drab brown, and the living room furniture is poorly arranged? Are you going to enjoy living there? Are you going to want to invite friends over for dinner parties? Probably not.
This is where an interior designer would be needed. They would know what colours would work best on the walls to make the rooms bright and cheery, the best choice for kitchen cabinets, and what style of fixtures to install in the bathrooms. The interior designer’s job is to make sure that what you visualise in the home is pleasant to look at and nicely arranged. They’re concerned with colours, the layout of the furniture, the material used for the kitchen countertops, etc.
Just as the visual design of the home is the job of an interior designer, the visual design of a website or product is the job of a User Interface designer. UI designers are in charge of designing the website pages a user interacts with and are responsible for creating a consistent style and design across the product. The UI designer ensures that the user interface – what you see – visually communicates the path that the UX designer (the architect) created.
It Takes Two To Tango
Even though the UX designer and the UI designer are involved in different aspects of a product, they must work in tandem to develop a successful product. A home that is usable and works, but is ugly to look at, is an example of good UX and bad UI. And a home that looks like it should be on a magazine cover, but has leaky plumbing and rooms that are too small, represents good UI and bad UX.
Sometimes it takes two – and both UX and UI designers are equally important in creating a finished product that is pleasant to use and does the job it’s designed to do.