The Difference Between User Interface and User Experience

Walking down the streets of Calgary, especially in  tech-heavy neighbourhoods like Ramsay and Inglewood that are  heavily populated by creative or marketing agencies, you have probably overheard people talking about UI and UX. Maybe you were sat across from a hip-looking web designer and they kept rambling on about UI and UX. You probably didn’t want to ask what they meant out of fear of looking like a total newb?

We sat across from enough blank stares in client meetings that we decided to create this handy guide illustrating the differences between UI and UX – for people not in the tech world.

The Abbreviation
First thing’s first, let’s pull back the curtain on the abbreviations. UI stands for User Interface design and UX stands for User Experience design. Yes, user experience really should be called UE instead, but why use and E when an X is so much cooler?

User Interface
Simply put, both UI and UX are the basics of overall website usability. When it comes right down to it,  user interface design is what is staring the user in the face when they are on the website. A good user interface will make someone say, “wow, I like the way this works.” It’s more of an analytical, linear line of thought. This is the more objective art form, when asked about the website an end user can say they like colours and the dropdown menu. While not entirely the same thing, User Interface design can be related with the graphic design field.

User Experience
With User Experience design, at its core it is about how it feels to use the website. A good user experience designer is one part psychologist, one part marketer and one part researcher. (Yes, that doesn’t equal four parts, but roll with us on this one.) This is the more subjective part of the usability art form where people are more prone to talk about their feelings, “wow, I like the way it felt to use this website. I didn’t have a hard time finding anything.” Most design or usability problems have more than one solution, a UX designer’s job is to find the best solution that makes one page logically flow into the next. The purpose of UX is really to have the user have an easy/fun/informative time browsing the site.

Why did we bother to explain this very convoluted concept in a way that you will (hopefully) understand? So that you can find the right web professional for the job. It’s time consuming and expensive to hire a specialist. Thankfully, there are web design companies in Calgary like Sparrow Studios around. We have both User Interface and User Experience designers on staff, we can both pretty up your website and make it user friendly, at the same time.

If your website needs some UI or UX help call us up and have a coffee with us, you won’t even glaze over when we start throwing around these web terms!

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