If you’ve ever sat in a meeting where people threw around abbreviations you didn’t fully understand, raise your hand. It’s okay, us, too. And while we are totally down with covertly Googling definitions while pretending to take notes (LIFO and FIFO, anyone?), we thought we’d save you the trouble on some of the terms we throw around our meetings when talking web and app design: UX and UI.

What is UX, what is UI, and what the heck is the difference? 

Let’s start with the basics. UX refers to User Experience while UI stands for User Interface. You may hear people either use them interchangeably or pit them against one another like there’s some kind of UX vs. UI cage fight (I mean, we’d watch). But neither of those characterizations is correct. UI design is an integral part of UX; the two cannot exist without each other but each has its own role. 

Essentially, UX is the “feel” of a product (an app or website), while UI is the “look” of it. We love UX Planet’s Lakshman Sharma example of riding a horse. He said, “UI is the saddle, the stirrups, and the reins. UX is the feeling you get being able to ride the horse.”

What does a UX designer do? 

In UX design, we establish the “feel” by using human-centered design, looking at research for opportunities to make a user happy while using the product, mapping out the user’s journey, organizing the information for them, and then converting all that to wireframes and prototypes so we can test it out. In UX design, we employ:

  • Design & User Research
  • Information Architecture
  • Content Strategy
  • Psychology
  • Prototypes
  • Wireframes
  • Usability Testing

What does a UI designer do?

In UI design, it’s all about the visuals. We focus on the “look” by making user interfaces enjoyable and easy to interact with through the use of aesthetics. The tools we use for UI design are:

  • Branding
  • Visual Design
  • Interface Design
  • Colors
  • Layout
  • Typography
  • Graphics 
  • Photography
  • Illustrations

So there you have it! Enjoy the knowing smile you’ll be wearing at your next meeting because you understand exactly what everyone is talking about. If you’d like to see out some UX and UI design in action, check out some of our latest web projects and as always, feel free to drop us a line.