UX vs UI: Do You Know the Difference?

Author: Jack Martin

You’ve probably heard the terms user experience (UX) designer and user interface (UI) designer being used a lot lately within the creative and technical fields. The problem is that many people are throwing these terms around without knowing what they TRULY mean. Not being able to differentiate between the two can be a time-consuming, costly mistake!


User interface IS NOT user experience. The most common mistake I see is the combination of the two terms, or interchangeable use of the two as if they mean the same thing. One of the most common places for these mistakes to pop up is on job listings. It is true that both positions require some of the same skills, and many designers are great at both, but how can you be sure you hired the right person for the job if you don’t know what you’re really looking for?

The Difference

The difference between the two may seem a bit confusing at first, but with a few simple analogies you will have a greater understanding of what sets them apart.

Think of the content you need on your website as ingredients needed to make a meal. The fork in your hand is the UI. The rush of flavor you get as you’re eating and the satisfied feeling you are left with after finishing your meal is the UX.

The fork in your hand is the UI. The rush of flavor you get as you’re eating and the satisfied feeling you are left with after finishing your meal is the UX.

UI is a tool. It is the most visible part of a design. UI designers create buttons, icons, text, colors and more that make up beautiful designs. They fix problems that directly involve interactions with the user. These only make up a small portion of the whole project.

UX is the end result. UX designers work with the copy, personality, speed, functionality etc… In the end users are left with a memory of a website. User experience designers aim to keep that memory as positive as possible.

Is it starting to make more sense? Here is another great analogy made by Dain Miller in this article.

“Good user experience is the art of a drill going through wood, or a surfboard gliding through water effortlessly. The feelings those give you is unparalleled because they just work, simple as that. Though, in contrast, the shape of that board that helps it make those turns on the wave is good UI, and the surfwax on the top so you don’t slip off is also good UI. In short, the ENTIRE package is what makes it good UX, whereas good UI is always a very important inner-element of that.”

Why it is important to know the difference

Confusing the roles of UX and UI is a money waster. And no one likes that. (At least no one I’ve ever met…) UX and UI need to work together or you will end up spending time and money sorting out confusion instead of quickly and efficiently identifying and solving problems.

Good design fixes problems. Knowledge of both UX and UI is crucial to understanding what is needed to fix those problems. You will be able to provide both sides with the tools and skills necessary to complete the job. If the knowledge isn’t there it will be a lot like asking both a 5 star chef with no kitchen supplies and a person with no knowledge or skill to cook a delicious 3-course meal. Without knowledge or supplies both sides are powerless and you are still left with hungry customers in the end.

Don’t leave your clients hungry. Combine good UI with good UX and your website is sure to be a success.

Comment below with your thoughts on the difference between UX and UI.
Or contact Keystone Click for help designing your own website.