UI Is How It Looks, UX Is How It Feels – How To Understand The Interaction Between The Two In Order To Create Great Products

What are UI And UX?

What the difference is between UI and UX is probably the most popular topic on most web design blogs these days.

Usually the two terms are used interchangeably, sometimes they are even confused for one another.

This leads to a lot of confusion for those who have not really gained a firm grasp of these two concepts.

For this reason, we will simplify them here, with the use of analogy.

In short:

UI is the content, UX is the context.

If the UI is the meal, then the UX is how it tastes.

Within the context of interface design, UI is how it looks, UX is how it feels.

It’s the UI or User Interface that is the real, tangible thing that is created by a designer, that the user will ultimately interact with. The UX, on the other hand, is the end result of that interaction. Whether that end result is a feeling, a progressive outcome, or just the passing of some information in an efficient manner.

The two terms are so often intertwined precisely because they are so linked. One (UI) leads to the other (UX). While at the same time, UI cannot be made effectively without UX considerations being made throughout the UI design process.

How do UI and UX interact?

As we have stated above, the goal of a great UI is to create a great UX.

But what do we mean by this? And how is this achieved?

What Good UX Means

Determining whether a or not a UX is good or bad, depends on the goals of the user. It’s about how efficient the UI is in giving them that goal, or, stated more clearly, guiding them towards that goal in a way that also makes them feel the most ideal way, throughout the goal attainment process.

This is ideally done in a manner that continually guides and reinforces the attainment of that goal.

How To Create A UI That Leads To A Great UX

A good user interface is better thought of as a place, rather than a thing.

A good mixture of great information architecture and great, feeling and goal centered UI user flows. The constructing of a scaffolding that ideally communicates with the user, in order to guide them, and then the filling in of the details.

It is, in essence, about figuring out what the ideal steps will be for the user to attain their determined goal and then, with the use of elements that compose a UI, constructing a pathway that is, in all ways (visually, in terms of feeling, etc) the smoothest one that leads to the goal.

The process of learning how to do this is best summarized in this article:

From Web Development To UI/UX Design – The Fundamentals A Developer Should Know

Conclusion And Summary – A Great UI Becomes A Great UX

The satisfied experience of the user is the ultimate goal of what we do as designers of user interfaces. It is why we get up in the morning and ultimately, what motivates us to get to work.

By giving yourself a firm understanding of the differences between UI and UX, and then underlining that understanding with a feeling for how the two elements interact, you arm yourself with the ultimate design tool: empathy.

It is this empathy that will ultimately enable you to put the concepts outlined in this post to good use.

I hope that this article has helped you do that a little bit. In order to enable you to create great user interfaces for the world, that we will all enjoy.

Tapha is the Founder of PlanFlow.dev, a simple information architecture tool that brings your entire web & mobile UI/UX design planning process into one simple place.


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