UX vs. UI Design: What’s the Difference Between UX and UI Design?

Macy is a Content Writer at WebFX. With a Content Marketing Certification, she's an expert in crafting pieces filled with the facts about all things digital marketing. You'll find many of her pieces featured on UpCity's Top Digital Marketing Articles of the Week. When she isn't clacking her keys, she's wondering why her dog is so cute. Follow her on Twitter @iinfinitestorm.

When it comes to building your business’s website, you want to ensure you deliver an experience that keeps your audience engaged. Some people tell you that you need to focus on user experience (UX) design, while others say user interface (UI) design is more important.

But what are UX and UI? How do they differ?

We’ll answer those questions and more in this article! Keep reading to learn the difference between UX and UI design and find out which one you should use!

P.S. Want to get tips and tricks for designing and marketing your site online? Join 150,000+ savvy marketers by subscribing to Revenue Weekly!

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UX vs. UI design: Definitions

Before diving into the differences between UX and UI design, let’s look at the definition for each:

  • User experience (UX) design: UX design is an approach to design that focuses on delivering a technically sound experience for users on your website. With UX design, you focus on creating a functional and frustration-free experience for your visitors.
  • User interface (UI) design: UI design focuses on delivering an aesthetically pleasing experience on your site. With UI design, you focus on adding visual elements that enhance the user experience.

UX vs. UI design: What’s the difference between UX and UI design?

Now that we looked at the definitions for UX vs. UI design, let’s look at the difference between user experience design and user interface design.

There are three main areas we’ll look at to compare these two types of design:

  • Approach
  • Focus
  • Makeup

Keep reading to see the difference between UX and UI design!

Approach

When looking at UX vs. UI design, the first area to look at is the approach. User experience design and user interface design take two different approaches to craft your website.

With UX design, the focus is on the whole experience of your website. UX designers focus on how users experience a website as they browse products or learn about your services. The user experience focuses heavily on the structural aspects of your website and whether it’s functional for visitors.

Think of UX’s approach like the inner workings of a car. The engineers who design and create the cars are focused on making them functional and easy to use for drivers. They aren’t concerned about how it looks, but rather that it functions properly.

UI design, on the other hand, takes a visual approach to creating a positive user experience. UI designers focus on how the visuals on your site impact the user experience. These visuals include elements like typography, colors, and images.

So, if we go back to the car example, the UI design of a car is purely the visual elements, like the button placements in the car or the design of the seats. UI mainly looks at taking visually pleasing elements and making them functional for users.

Focus

Next in the UX vs. UI design debate, let’s look at the focus for each type of design. The most significant difference between UX and UI design is that they approach web design from different perspectives.

With user experience design, the focus is on the technical aspects of your website. UX design focuses on how users experience your site when they enter and browse through your site. It’s focused on creating processes that are easy to follow and provide minimal frustration for users.

UX design focuses heavily on a concept and how to deliver a positive interaction between the user or company.

With user interface design, the focus is on the visual aspects of your website. UI focuses on the look of your website and how users feel when they’re engaging with it. When looking at the UI side of your website, there’s a lot of emphasis on graphic design and creating tangible elements that provide a good experience.

Let’s use Dollar Shave Club as an example. To get your customized grooming plan, Dollar Shave Club encourages users to take a quiz to get their plan.

The UX portion of this quiz focuses on creating a seamless experience where users click the option that answers their question best and then click the arrow to go to the next question. It establishes a frustration-free experience for the visitors because they know how to proceed.

 

Dollar Shave Club's user experience for their quiz

 

On the UI side of things, the focus shifts to creating boxes that are evenly spaced, design elements that look the same, and a design that is overall easy to view. It also involves adding an outline to highlight that someone is hovering over a box, and it has a checkmark appear when a user selects that option.

 

Dollar Shave Club's user interface for their quiz

 

As you can see, the UX side of the design focuses on making the quiz functional and easy for users to take, while UI makes the quiz easy to look at to answer the questions.

Makeup

When looking at the difference between UX and UI design, you’ll notice that the makeup is different. Creating a great UX design is different than a great UI design.

Great UX design is made up of four components:

  • Clarity: UX design focuses on creating an experience that’s clear and frustration-free for visitors. Users should know how to use and browse your site without feeling lost or confused.
  • Consistency: Good UX design is consistent ­­–– users should know what to expect as they browse through your site. Having navigation always at the top of the page creates a consistent, positive user experience.

 

Dollar Shave Club's navigation bar

 

  • Familiarity: Good UX design creates an experience that’s familiar to your audience. Providing navigation at the top of the page rather than the bottom creates a familiar experience for your audience, for example.
  • Efficiency: With UX design, you focus on creating an efficient experience, so your audience can get information fast. UX focuses on giving users an experience that doesn’t require more time and effort than is necessary. 

Excellent UI design, on the other hand, is made up of these four components:

  • Enjoyable: Great UI design focuses on creating a pleasant experience for visitors. It focuses on delivering a visually appealing experience that makes users want to engage with your website.
  • Usable: With UI design, an essential component is usability. To deliver a great experience, the visual elements need to be laid out correctly so visitors can use them. Proper spacing and sizing are critical for creating a visually appealing and usable site.
  • Reliable: Another critical component of user interface design is reliability. Having a site that’s reliable means that everything loads appropriately and appears as it should.
  • Functional: The last component of UI design is functionality. Having a functional site means that users can easily click buttons, visit links, and browse on your site without a hitch.

UX vs. UI design: Should I choose UX or UI design?

Now that you’ve looked at UX vs. UI design, you may be wondering which one is best for your business. Should you focus on UX or UI?

Realistically, focus on both. UI and UX design take a human-first approach that focuses on delivering the best experience for people who visit your site. While UX focuses more on the technical side and UI on the visual side, both work together to improve visitors’ experience.

Think of UX and UI like a wedding cake ­–– the cake is the UX and the icing is the UI. If you have a cake but no icing, the couple won’t find it aesthetically appealing and want to eat it. On the other hand, if they get cardboard boxes covered with icing, they will not be happy that it’s not a cake.

Essentially, you need both UX and UI to make people happy and deliver the experience they want.

So, while there may be differences between UX and UI, both work together to help you deliver the best experience for your audience.

Need help with UX or UI design?

Now that you know it’s not a debate between UX vs. UI design, but rather, creating a strategy that uses both, you may feel overwhelmed. If you’re looking for help with UX or UI design, WebFX has a team of over 300 marketing experts ready to assist you.

We know how to craft websites that deliver a great user experience. Our award-winning design team has developed over 1000 sites like yours, so you can feel confident we’ll deliver a web design you’ll love.

Ready to build a website that keeps visitors happy? Contact us online or call us today at 888-601-5359 to speak with a strategist about our UX design services!

 

Bonus Reading: 10 Modern Web Design Trends for 2021