What could two short letters stand for, you ask? Amazingly enough, each has an extended definition!
UI has often been spoken of, especially among the membership of Compumatrix. To answer what UI stands for, is it enough to know it stands for “User Interface?”
How about UX then? UX stands for “User Experience.” What does that have to do with you?
Lets first look at UI on a fundamental level; UI is the user’s ability to interact with a digital device. Be it buttons, touchscreens, keyboards, and yes, even sounds.
UX, on the other hand, is what the user takes away from that experience. How does it make you feel? Happy, sad, proud, upset, inspired?
Though often used interchangeably, the two terms are distances apart in meaning.
Brief History of UI’s
Scientists at the Xerox corporation created the first Graphical User Interface (GUI). This GUI, for the first time, allowed users to interact with personal computers using commands. These commands were carried out through icons, buttons, menus, and checkboxes.
This GUI meant that no coding was required to interact with the computer; hence, the personal computer revolution began.
In 1984 Apple Macintosh introduced the first “point and click” personal computer and, as such, was the first successful home computer to use this type of interface.
Computers, amidst their prevalence in both home and work settings, needed more user-friendly design. If interaction weren’t easy and fun, they wouldn’t sell. This necessity birthed the career of the UI designer.
Due to the growth of technology, expectations, preferences, systems, and accessibility has increased dramatically. The UI designer role has remarkedly developed with the demand for other areas, such as mobile phones, augmented and virtual reality, and even screenless interfaces (often referred to as zero UI) such as voice, gesture, and light.
The field of UI designers is chock full of opportunities in many diverse areas. UI designers could choose from working on websites, mobile applications, wearable technology, and smart home devices, to name a few. As long as computers are part of our daily lives, UI designers will find jobs creating interfaces for users of all ages and backgrounds to use effectively.
What, then, is UX?
UX refers to the experience of the user regarding the enhancements of the UI. Once developments and improvements on UIs were created for users to interact with, UX could be defined. The measure of their experience with a device, whether positive, negative, or neutral, could be measured and evaluated.
The term “user experience” (UX) was coined in the early 1990s by cognitive scientist Don Norman when he worked for Apple. He defined it as such:
‘User experience’ encompasses all aspects of the end-users interaction with the company, its services, and its products.
This definition is broad and could envelop ALL interaction from a user’s perspective, not just the digital one. Some UX professionals have elected to call the field “customer experience,” and others have carried it a bit further and name the field “experience design.”
Little does it matter what it’s called in reality. Norman’s original definition of UX is always at the core of every thought experience.
Peter Moreville created a great visual that focuses on what makes an experience a good one, and what should be brought into effective UX design.
The foundation for UX professionals’ best practices have centered around and guided their efforts with this “usability honeycomb” and the objectives laid out with the users on:
- how your company’s product relates to the “usability honeycomb.”
- the interaction sequence with the interface
- the thoughts and enjoyment which arise as they accomplish their efforts
- the overall impact they receive from the interaction
Companies depend on UX designers to convey a product and service that will be beneficial to a customer, which allows them to do their work enjoyably and achieve the desired outcome.
UX designers work jointly with UI designers, UX researchers, marketers, and product teams to garner information through research and analysis to understand users’ needs and desires. The information gained through quantitative and qualitative research is applied to increase user-end experience.
What’s the difference between UI and UX?
Fundamentally, a UI consists of all the components that enable a user’s interaction with a product or service. Conversely, a UX is what the user interacting with that same product or service retains from the entire experience.
Don Norman and Jakob Nielsen summed it up perfectly when they said:
It’s important to distinguish the total user experience (UX) from the user interface (UI), even though the UI is obviously an extremely important part of the design. As an example, consider a website with movie reviews. Even if the UI for finding a film is perfect, the UX will be poor for a user who wants information about a small independent release if the underlying database only contains movies from the major studios.Don Norman
As per usual, experts take diverse views on the subject. Below are just a few from some accomplished people from the tech industry:
“There is no difference between UX and UI design because they are two things that aren’t comparable to each other.”Craig Morrison
Craig Morrison – Head of Product
“I hear this question all the time, and I’ve answered it multiple times. Ultimately I’ve come to this conclusion…”
“There is no difference between UX and UI design because they are two things that aren’t comparable to each other.”
“For example, it’s kind of like asking, “What is the difference between red paint and the chemicals the paint is made up of?” There is no difference. Red paint is made up of all sorts of different chemicals that when combined together make red paint.”
“Just as the user experience is made up of a bunch of different components, user interface design being just one of them, that when combined together make up the user experience.”
“Here are a few other questions to illustrate my point:”
- “What is the difference between a MacBook and the shape of the keyboard keys?”
- “What’s the difference between tea and the type of material the tea bag is made from?”
- “What’s the difference between a car and the color it’s painted?”
“If we’re talking about delicious cake (and why wouldn’t we be?), UI is the icing, the plates, the flavour, the utensils, and the presentation. UX is the reason we’re serving cake in the first place, and why people would rather eat it than hamburgers.”
UI is the bridge that gets us where we want to go; UX is the feeling we get when we arrive.Jason Ogle
Jason Ogle – UX Designer
“I think one of the most important things to keep in mind in our artificially-intelligent world we’re flying headlong into, is that UI is no longer just a series of buttons relegated to the four corners of a screen–and UX is not just a screen-based prototype meant to increase conversions on a landing page.”
“It can also now be considered our voice and intentions powered by whatever the machines think we’re saying or wanting in any given context.”
“UI is the bridge that gets us to the other side of where we’re wanting to go.”
“UX is the feeling we get when we get there when the bridge is well-built, or plummet to our death (talk about bad UX!).”
“It’s also possible to have a good user experience without a user interface. In fact, if it’s really good, oftentimes your users won’t even know it’s there (how many knots do you notice on the wooden bridge on the way across?).”
“Keep in mind that we’re always creating UX, all the time, whether behind a keyboard, in the grocery store line, in our workplace, or on the freeway (God help us).”
“To sum this up, as I always say to my super guests at the end of every User Defenders podcast episode: Keep fighting on, creating great UX for other humans!”
“Whether that requires a UI or not.”
UX encompasses all the experiences a person has with a product or service, whereas UI is specific to the means by which people interact with a product or service.Chinwe Obi
Chinwe Obi – UX Researcher
“User experience (UX) is the interaction and experience users have with a company’s products and services. To gain UX insights, this might include conducting research to learn about the positive and negatives points of an experience and taking those learnings to make improvements that positively impact a user’s experience.”
“Think about ordering food online for a pickup delivery. The UX consists of the user’s interactions with placing their order on a company’s website, their in-store experience of picking up their order, and their satisfaction with their food.”
“User interface (UI) is the specific asset users interact with. For example, UI can deal with traditional concepts like visual design elements such as colors and typography. It can also look at the functionality of screens or more unconventional systems like those that are voiced-based.”
“To continue with the online food order example, UI would focus on the visual design of the screens a user interacts with, such as which color to make the order button and where to place it on the page. This can also include any interfaces a user might come in contact with in-store.”
We read and learned about the amount of thought, research, and work that goes into UI’s and UX’s. Therefore, we can better appreciate the task at hand right now. The effort exerted to ensure the UI and UX excellence helps set the stage for Compumatrix to be recognized as the exceptional corporation we know! We will all be proud that we are members and will not hesitate to share our company with others.