What is the Difference Between UI and UX?


What is the difference between UI and UX? They both have a "U" and are about users, they must be interchangeable right? Not so much.

First things first: UI = User Interface and UX= User Experience.

User Interface (UI) is the point that someone interacts with something, like a button on a website and User Experience (UX) is how the user feels about that interaction. Therefore, a UI Designer is a graphic designer that creates the User Interface (UI) and a UX Designer creates the strategy behind the experience, or the User Experience (UX).

You Could also Think of it Like This

UI are your skis, ski clothing and poles. UX is the feeling you get floating through powder.
UI is a door handle. UX is feeling like an idiot repeatedly pulling on a door handle that pushes open.

How UX and UI work Together

A UX Designer does not actually design in a traditional sense, they architect a solution. UX is all the research and intangibles that go into the overall strategy behind great UI. So for example, at Carbon8 when we're working with our clients to create a new website or app, we'd first start out tackling the UX strategy work:

  • Research
  • Interviewing
  • Creation of user tests
  • Gathering and organizing statistics
  • Creating personas
  • Requirements writing
  • Information architecture
  • Usability
  • Prototyping
  • Interface layout
  • Copywriting
  • Content strategy

Once the strategy is in place, our Graphic Designers create a beautiful User Interface (website or app or could just be one button or icon) that follows the user experience strategy we previously outlined.

Wrap Up

There is some understandable confusion out there on the subject. Job descriptions are fuzzy and companies sometimes expect their graphic designers to do UX work and some do, but a lot don't since it was never part of their traditional education (unless you went to college in the last few years, it wasn't a part of most people's education). A lot of agencies don't have a full time UX person and companies don't always understand why it's so important. It also explains why a lot of great looking websites just don't function right.

Hopefully this helps resolve some of the confusion between UX and UI. For more information about Carbon8's UX process, contact us.

Shay Ruggles
written by SHAY RUGGLES

Shay Ruggles is the Director of UX at Carbon8 who ensures we are creating compelling experiences that balance user intent, clients’ business needs and site performance. A former Account Manager, Video Producer and Carbon8’s first employee, Shay leveraged her years of experience, education and research to transition to the creative team of Carbon8 in 2012.

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