UX and UI design are terms that are used interchangably in the design field. Job listings often incorrectly define what UX and UI designers do, making it difficult to determine the difference between the two. UX and UI are different though and should be treated as separate entities; nevertheless, one cannot stand alone without the other. They compliment one another to create complex projects that have great usability and aesthetics.
So what is UX design, otherwise known as User Experience Design?
Wikipedia defines UX design as the following:
User experience design (UXD or UED) is the process of enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty by improving the usability, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the customer and the product.
What this means is that UX design is focused on the interaction between a website user (usually a customer) and the website in which they are visiting. UX designers focus their time on optimizing a user’s experience with the product they are interacting with. They test, prototype and improve interactions as a part of their work. This allows them to aline the user experience with company goals.
On the otherhand, UI design, also known as User Interface Design, is quite different.
Wikipedia defines UI design as the following:
User interface design (UI) or user interface engineering is the design of user interfaces for machines and software, such as computers, home appliances, mobile devices, and other electronic devices, with the focus on maximizing usability and the user experience.
It takes a product’s development, research, content and layout and turns it into an attractive, guiding and responsive experience for users. Basically, UI designers focus on the design portion of website building.
UI designers create the look and feel of websites. One way to think of UI designers are as web designers that don’t code. This trend is changing though, and as we progress forward it is becoming more important for UI designers to be web designers as well, giving them the coding building blocks to bring their designs into reality. They create animation, interactivity and responsive design.
They take any research and prototyping developed by UX designers and bring it to life. They create a tangible product that is not only usable, but is visually appealing as well.
In conclusion, something that looks great but is difficult to use is exemplary of great UI and poor UX. While something very usable that looks terrible is exemplary of great UX and poor UI. Both UX and UI design is essential parst of website development.