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The terms User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) are commonly used in not only dialogue surrounding technology, but business in general.

We’ve found that while UX and UI are familiar terms to the business community at large, a fair amount of confusion about them still exists. This post will explore the concepts of UX and UI and help to demystify both.

UI is the saddle, the stirrups, and the reigns. UX is the feeling you get being able to ride the horse, and rope your cattle. – Innovation influencer Dain Miller

UX and UI Defined

UX (User Experience) is the feeling or attitude a user has when interacting with a product, system or service. The Nielsen Norman Group defines User Experience (UX) as “any touch point a user or customer has with a system, digital or not.”  UX refers to how users feel about not only the interaction with what they’re using but how it makes them feel about their own user skills.

In a previous blog, we explored new research surrounding UX and millennials, specifically. The research revealed that millennials are extremely confident in the workplace, as it relates to UX. Yet, when they ran into roadblocks or didn’t immediately understand how to interact with the product or service, they assumed there were problems with the interface design.

UI (User Interface), essentially, is the means for the user experience to happen. By dictionary definition, UI is the industrial design field of human–computer interaction and the space where interactions between humans and machines occur. In layman’s terms, it is the screens, pages, buttons and icons you use when you interact with any device.

One way to describe the relationship between UX and UI is to compare it to an idea that becomes a complete product. UX describes the vision for the user experience and UI brings it to life.  UX focuses on the journey to solve the problem and UI provides all of the details required to solve it, serving as the destination. A quote from a financial executive in a recent article best describes it by saying, “If the UX designer is looking at a website from 40,000 feet, the UI designer is looking at it with a microscope.” While UX and UI are different concepts, they are understandably, often confused – likely because they both play key parts in building a new app or website.

Hopefully, you’ll approach UX and UI with less confusion after absorbing the definitions of each. Just to further clarify, I’ll close with a great quote by UX/UI expert and influencer, Craig Morrison:

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.