UI vs. UX: What’s the Difference?

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There are few elements as contestable in software design as the debate between UI vs. UX in the design phase. Now, both elements are absolutely crucial. In fact, you could even say they rely upon each other to function effectively.

UI vs. UX isn t so much a contest, but rather an approach to making software and applications more palatable to the end user. Ultimately, both of these methodologies are fundamental to how an end-user experiences software when in use.

Softwaredevelopment is a complex process. The interface and how people interact with it are just as important as the overall function of the program. Both approaches are very much worth exploring so you get a better grasp of how software becomes a deliverable product.

UI vs. UX: Side-by-Side Comparison

What does it mean? User Interface User Experience
Intended Application Creating aesthetically pleasing visual interfaces for users to interact with in digital products. Creating aesthetically and functionally pleasing experiences for users for both physical and digital products.
Overall Goal To please the user with an easy-to-access interface To please the user with a functionally satisfying experience
User or Design Centered? Design-Centered User-Centered
Integration User-Centered A crucial part of the design and prototyping phases tightly integrates with wireframing and project planning goals.

Both UI and UX have a similar overall goal. What makes a larger impact is whether a product is designed with the customer experience in mind or with the interface in mind.

UI vs. UX: What s the Difference?

ui vs. ux
UI and UX design often go hand-in-hand when developing any project.

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There are quite a few major differences in the approach to UIs and UX design work. It cannot be understated how much these two actually go together. Realistically speaking, if you re working on the user experience of something, the interface will come into consideration.

These two methodologies are complementary, rather than competitive.

Design Phase

In modern app development, things move in distinct phases. User interfaces or UIs can refer to voice or visual-based interfaces. Typically, both theuser interfaceand user experience will be crafted during the design phase itself.

After setting the wireframe prototypes in place, it is a matter of communicating between the UI, UX, and development teams to get the product refined and usable. You can split the design phase into separate elements related solely to the development and design of the UI and UX.

Having an interface that shows the ethos and values of a brand is equally as important as making sure the UX is usable and functional. As such, you can expect these two disciplines to co-mingle quite heavily. There really isn t a competition like UI vs. UX, but rather complementary design work.

Overall Goal

The overall aim of a user interface is to provide an aesthetically pleasing and functional interface. This can be visual, audio, or tactile. The user interface is effectively just one aspect of the user experience. The UX goes beyond just the interface.

Any end user of a product expects something that is functional, usable, and pleasant to navigate. The user experience can extend out to concepts like the weight and shape of a hardware device. Consider the modern smartphone and the work that goes into making them light and pleasant to use.

The overall aim of a UI and the UX of a product are ultimately very similar. They are looking at what makes something pleasant to use. Now, the UI can be integrated into the design methodology of the UX. You will often see this in theoperating systemsof smartphones.

You can also see both in close support with popular apps like email clients, web browsers, and many others. The app has to be easy to navigate, pleasant to use, and visually appealing. Utilitarian interfaces have merit, but that is more relegated to specialized applications.

If you re in the field of UI or UX design and development, you are likely going to be thinking about how nice it is to use a product. Recent history has been filled with great ideas with a downright unpleasant interface or user experience.

Integration with Other Aspects of Development

Modern appdevelopmentis a complex project. When you consider the sheer number of moving parts that go into developing apps, it is a marvel at how fast things get done.

The actual design work that goes into the user interface and user experience will have an impact on the other phases of development. It isn t a matter of which gets priority in a debate of UI vs. UX, but rather how difficult it is to implement those ideas and make them usable.

Interface and user experience designers are going to work closely with the development team to make sure things are doable. Any aspect of app design isn t a simple enclosed structure, but rather a series of interconnected teams.

As teams prototype, test, and ultimately refine a product, it is vital that communication is open and clear. As such, there isn t a better option necessarily. You might have one team focusing on the overall interface while another focuses on how pleasant it is to use the application.

Integration with DevOps

ui vs. ux
Effective UI and UX design is a collaborative effort with all aspects of development.


DevOpshas been the methodology of choice for a number of years now. It promotes clear communication, structured development, and fast delivery of the end product.

As such, all teams in a development project are going to be communicating with each other. Developers will likely be consulting the design team to inform them of an application s capabilities. This will also get relayed to the user experience team.

The UI teams will be tasked with designing and implementing an interface that is easily understood. The UX teams might conduct internal or external testing depending on how far along the project might be. This helps to get an informed stance on how the software actually feels to use in the real world.

All teams will likely be communicating with any third-party testers, as that is the closest a product gets to real-world use without entering production. Once tester feedback is given, it is back to refining for developers, UI designers, and UX designers.

UI vs. UX: Must-Know Facts

  • The UI refers to any visual, tactile, or auditory element you interact with in a piece of software.
  • The UI of a piece of software is how a user interacts with the actual product.
  • UI design and development are two very different career paths.
  • The UX of a piece of software refers to how functional it is to use.
  • The UX will consider the UI of a piece of software, along with workflow.
  • The UX of a piece of software will consider how easy it is for the common person to use.

UI vs. UX: Which is Better?

As has been repeated throughout this guide, there isn t a clear-cut winner between UI vs. UX. Instead, these are complementary functions in a software development environment. The UI will be considered by the UX team.

If you aren t involved indevelopment, why not consider what makes an app pleasant to use? Think about your favorite app and you can pinpoint the parts of the UI or UX that just make it a joy to use on a daily basis.

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