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  • Writer's pictureKatarzyna Hasnik

What is the difference between UX and UI Design?

How to explain in a simple words the difference between the User Experience Design and User Interface Design for the newcomer or to person who isn't that familiar with tech world?


In simple fun words for newcomer, by taking fun easy to understand metaphoric comparison, the UX is the skeleton, organs, muscles and their functionality. And as well the skin which holds firmly everything all together. This creates the physical human body. All of this while alive (coded by developers or prototyped by designers) can perform the crucial, fundamental, basic to human race functionality and ability to perform various involuntary and voluntary tasks. However as we all can imagine the body like this would maybe function if alive, but without the individual visual appearance and the senses, wouldn't be called human.

The UI is the outer layer appearance, and their cosmetics of the human body as well as the senses, reactions and responds. Visually each the human body is unique, because of the skin tone, type of hair and their colour, shape and colour of eyes and also the choice of own clothing. UI is the theme of visual pleasing aesthetics and mode, light or dark.

Both of them integrate together and cannot fully exists without each other, just like the human body is not just made of flesh, bones and organs but also the specific type, shapes and colours, senses, reactions, responses and personality unique to the specific person. To give unique appearance each human looks different, what makes are all special however the fundamental functionality for all of us, is exactly the same.

Let's bring this to design world

In digital world, each website has home page, menu and contact details, opens in similar way. That's the skeleton etc. and we call this layout and wireframes with the place for buttons and icons. Each website and mobile app also have colours, fonts, graphics, shape of the buttons and icons and their corresponding colours that's the colour of the skin, hair, eyes and clothing. If you ask about high and weight of the human, in design, it would be part of UX, meaning layout. To fit hight in the specific entry for example. Meaning high of layout for various mobile, tablet and desktop devices. Going deeper in our fun time metaphor, the organs because of their involuntary functionality hidden from us performing their by our choice might be categorise in the developers range.

We might compare and compare UX/UI design to all kind of examples but let's go more serious now. I believe this metaphor makes it a bit easier for you to understand and feel the difference and make you simple each time when you hold your mobile device and browser the web and use your newest mobile app. 😃

Now when you know what's the difference between UX and UI in more casual fun way, let's go now a bit deeper and let's get much much more serious.

UX Design stands for User Experience Design and UI Design stands for User Interface Design.

Let's make this clear that they are not the same however they do integrate together to make one fully designed product or service.


UX takes under consideration all experience of the users from the beginning to the end of user interaction with the product or service. How straight forward is this experience, how easy is to perform the specific task for User, is the experience smooth or challenging or maybe not understood at all. UX covers all product from physical to digital, like online grocery shopping or using the mobile app to book a flight. UX focus on every aspects of the user's journey to solve the problem or task and how the User feels about it. Is this journey to perform desire tasks makes the user feeling satisfied with the accomplishment or makes him/her frustrate and uneasy with the product design due to too complicated approach? The good user experience would be classify when when the task is quick, hassle free, straight forward, easy to perform. The bad user experience would be when user cannot solve the task or it is too much hassle, overcomplicated, not straight forward and baggy.

The UX Designer takes under consideration the existing products comparison, market research, strategy, product development and design to find out what the users needs, wants and likes to come with a better product or service design. The good approach to create timeless products and services is to put users first by conducting research and find out what users expect from the new product or services. In all process of UX design while interviewing, performing surveys, the empathy pays crucial role. UX Designer needs to put himself/herself in User shoes. UX Designer try to understand User fully to complete tasks of mapping the user journey, create basic wireframes, prototype and tests design directly with Users online and in person to find out even better approach until each stage of design is done well and meets the user full satisfaction by integrating the optimum functionality between all tested users and their honest feedbacks.

UX Design is also taking under consideration not only User Goals but also Business Goals, which needs to be equally important to make products and services, which last long on the market and which will bring the profit. UX Designer quite often works closely with Product Owners and Project Managers, Scrum Master as well as very closely with Developers and UI Designer.

UX Design doesn't pay too much attention to visual aesthetics only to the point if the visuals do not confuse users to perform and complete fully with satisfaction each desired tasks. That time the UI Designer must make necessary changes to meet UX principles so the users are able to easily recognise the stages of tasks and complete them with easiness.

UX Design is very highly connected with behavioural psychology of the Users and their involuntary and voluntary responds, reactions, emotions, thoughts. UX is very analytical and pays attention to the problem solving, to make product functional and useful.

UX is the entire experience of the Users with the product, service and even the brand of the product itself, how user identify with the company and their products, which they use daily.


UI is what you use to interact with the product. UI focus on the visual user aesthetic experience, the web and mobile app screens and the touch points like buttons and icons to simply navigate from the 1st to 2nd step, from A to B, like tapping, swapping, scrolling. UI focus how the products and services look like and function. UI Designer focuses on the Visual, Interactive Experience.

How does the User interact with visual interface? How does the User get from one to next screen and what kind of interaction happens when the User tap this button or the image? Does it bring highlight, change the shape, maybe colour, or gives extra tone or shadow, does it expand or shrink? User Interface Designer designs all screens and every touch point with which Users interact. Important for Users Design is to polish the layouts, the space between each graphical elements. UI Designer decides the general trend, mostly in confirmation with Product Owners and quite often the rest of the team. UI Designer is responsible of the colour palette, family type, hierarchy of the typography, all the icons, shapes of the buttons. UI Designer is also designing scrolls, switches and all interactive elements, how do they visually look like. To make sure thee familiarity of visual identification across all screens of the product, UI Designer also establishes Style Guide often which comes with UI Design Tool Kit. Similar to UX Designer, UI Designer creates final mockups and also creates prototypes with the final screens. UI Designer important role is to present the product in the best visual aesthetics to be certain that product does feels good to Users, however UI is more closer to standard Visual Design and Graphic Design than to User Experience Design. UI Designer takes the simple grey wireframes from UX Designer and makes them visually and interactively pleasant for the user. UI focuses on making products beautiful for the eye, leaving a good vibe of the product in terms of visual beauty and also nicely and smooth interactiveness and precisely design UI elements and components. It is all about outstanding design in terms of graphical visual design, the uniqueness, catchy and friendly design, with formal or informal more casual designs. UI Designer might also be responsible of designing a typical graphic design elements for the product itself or a whole company, usually in startups, as for example logo of the brand and their corresponding brand identification across all products from digital to also often print materials. Also, there is a practice of combine various titles and roles into one as hybrid roles UX/UI and also roles called GUID - graphical user interface designer, VUD - visual user designer, GUD - graphic user designer, VUX - visual user experience and so on. Each of those roles might be different depends of the company and products, the size of the team and even the region. The best practice is to understand both fields, do research and constantly learn more about design in general.

The general aim of Designers is to create intuitive, well functional, hassle free, easy to perform, enjoyable products to be used effortlessly for all kind of Users, regardless of various factors as for example: age, gender, cultural aspects, etc. so the product can be use internationally and easily transfer in terms of language translations, and even all kind of disadvantages like for example colour blindness and even variety of how we are holding the mobile device by left or right hand.

To wrap it up

In simple terms, UX is all about how users feels about the functionality of the product while performing the desired tasks. UX is recognising, identifying and solving users problems.

UI focus on the pleasing visual aesthetics of the interactive interfaces of the product.

User Experience Design concentrates on understanding the actual problem and comes with the a better solution to it by taking under consideration users needs, wants and likes. The important phase of UX is the research of actual market in comparison to the new product design and the needs of existing or potential new Users.

User Experience Designer is responsible of the initial phase of the design. The aim is to create a design, which will solve a particular problem. UX Design is about creating designs that are useful and helpful, but also enjoyable and simple to be used and to navigate. UX is the foundation for UI to be placed on.

User Interface Design concentrates on visual elements such a colours, fonts and images. UI Designer is responsible for designing screens, interactions, Style Guide and UI graphical elements as buttons and icons. The main goal of UI Designer is to make User's interaction as simple and efficient as possible through aesthetics visuals. UI Designer's tasks is to create interfaces that are meaningful and memorable.

Product Development Process

The fundamental first stage of the Product Development Process is UX Design, which is followed by UI Design. This might be approach differently depends of the life-cycle of the product.

UX and UI are interrelated and integrated together and cannot exist really without each other.

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