Meaning and Differences between UX and UI Design

When it comes to creating your business website, you’ve probably heard at least a thousand times that content is key.  You can’t sell anything unless you’re able to establish its value in a way that entertains and informs.

This is completely true, but there is more to the process than just writing “good stuff”.  You also need to have a website that works well for users, and one that is visually pleasing and understandable.

Content alone isn’t enough

Have you ever visited a website, browsed for a bit, then clicked out in disgust because you couldn’t find what you were looking for?  Have you ever abandoned a full shopping cart on a website because you couldn’t figure out where to add a coupon code?

And what about pulling up a site and immediately close it because you felt you were being blinded by the color scheme, or couldn’t read the font?  All of these situations are compelling arguments for making sure that, as a business owner, you pay attention to UX and UI Design.

For some, these are foreign concepts.  In this article, we’ll review each term, and demonstrate how they interact with each other, and how paying attention to these elements can improve your audience’s experience with your website.

What Is UX?

UX is a term that refers to the “User Experience Design” of an object.  While this term can apply to nearly everything, as an online business owner, you’re looking for the user experience within your website.  Bear in mind, however, the phrase can apply to products as well.  Should you receive comments about the User Experience, always check whether they mean your site or your products!

Essentially, UX refers to how a human interacts with something; in this case, your website.  This interaction is strictly from the “how does it work”, aspect of the situation.  What steps does a user take to get from your landing page to making a purchase?  If they’re getting ready to check out, and realize they forgot something, how do they get back to the inventory to find what they need?  

Creating a positive UX design requires thinking through these scenarios and more.  What kind of problems could users encounter?  How quickly or straightforward can the solution to those problems be?  

UX designers are constantly evaluating what the overall experience is like for the average user. Earlier, we presented a variety of scenarios in which you might choose to leave a website instead of buying something or interacting further.  Finding what you’re looking for and being able to enter a coupon code are just two examples of how UX design can have a negative impact on your bottom line.  

What Is UI?

UI, or “User Interface Design” is another important component of a website.  Unlike UX, UI is an entirely digital design element.  If someone shares that they’re having trouble with UI, they’re likely referring to the visual and interactive elements on your site, including fonts, colors, spacing, or buttons.  

UI is a largely visual part of the design process.  The goal of UI design is to create a website in which users can use visual cues to intuitively interpret the site.  The three rules of UI design are:


#1: That the design is consistent, meaning the cues remain the same from page to page

#2: That the design is coherent, meaning the average person looking at the site can read it and understand what buttons and links mean

#3: That the design is aesthetically pleasing, meaning the colors, images, typography, fonts, spacing, etc create a picture that invites the audience to continue reading


Goals of UI Design

UI considers the user’s journey as well; however, instead of solving the problem of “how”, “when”, or “why”, UI designers are more focused on “what”, “where”, and “who”What does the scroll bar look like?  Where does the search bar go?  Who is the audience, and what size font would be most appropriate?  What color scheme would work best with the product photos?  

In the earlier paragraph, finding the color scheme blinding or the font too small to read would be examples of poor UI design.  These design elements can prevent users from taking the steps to completing a sale just as easily as UX design flaws.

How Do UX and UI Work Together, or Are They Totally Different?  

As you try to put the two pieces together, it might seem like there are a lot of ways in which UX and UI design overlap.  If you have a small font, for example, then users won’t understand where to click to get to the shopping cart, simply because they can’t read the links.

While UX and UI are very much related, and can overlap in a variety of ways, they are not the same thing, and these terms are not interchangeable.  Even in the example above, the font is the UI element of the problem, while the UX problem of the user not knowing where to click is impacted by the UI issue.

It’s important to note, therefore, that both the UX and UI design of your website must be free of problems in order to create the best overall sales environment.

It’s all about User

You want users to have a pleasant experience, which means free and intuitive movement through your site.  They can close out your site, return later, and expect to follow the same steps to get where they need to go.  They can navigate through all the links without getting confused or lost.  

You also want users to find your site visually easy to navigate, as well.  The links are where they expect them to be.  The images are pleasant.  The words stand out and are easy to read.  The buttons aren’t alarming, and lead exactly where one would imagine they lead.  

By combining elements of User Experience Design and User Interface Design, you can create a website that is inviting, intuitive, and helpful to those who attempt to navigate through your material in order to purchase your products or services. 

There are web content developers who specialize in both UX and UI design.  You might wish to consult with an expert before publishing your site.  You can also ask yourself “Does this make sense?” to determine if your UX design is working, or “Do I want to look at this?” to be sure that your UI is pleasant. 

If you want to have more information about these subject, you can check the W3c standard guidelines. Having a site that is too difficult to use is not conducive to sales, so be aware of how design elements can impact your site.


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[…] a business owner, you have plenty of choices when creating your website.  After studying UX and UI, you make purposeful selections on colors, fonts, and buttons.  You’ve made sure everything […]