User Experience vs. User Interface
The Critical Difference Between User Interface and User Experience
Imagine this: you’ve landed reservations to New York City’s swankiest restaurant. You’re thrilled with the promise of amazing food and the possibility of rubbing elbows with celebrities and big-name politicians. Every detail of the restaurant is breathtaking, from the hand-carved crown molding, right down to the tuxedoed wait staff. You feel like a rockstar.
However, your experience is anything but spectacular. The hostess can’t find your reservation and brushes you off while accommodating the “other guests” who are dripping in diamonds. When you are finally seated, you practically have to grab your waiter by the bow tie to get his attention. Your tiny portions of food are mediocre at best, and one look at the bill makes you think you’ve paid for ten people. You’re ready to head to the pizza dive down the street and forget the whole night.
The restaurant is an example of the difference between User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX). On the surface, the restaurant looked like a five-star experience, but in reality, it didn’t meet your expectations. Instead of delivering an evening to remember, it was a horrible nightmare that left you hungry and broke.
UI is everything you see, while UX is how using the interface makes you feel. In any development project, UI is a critical component of UX. The two concepts are integral to one another, but the realization of each requires very different skill sets. Here are the key differences between the two:
UX Designers are analytical strategists who care about providing the best possible experience for the end user. They form a deep understanding of all users of a system, and they design the experience around the user’s needs. Their responsibilities include: wireframes, prototypes, user personas, user scenarios, navigational elements, sitemaps, and site audits. From conducting research, to designing workflows, to analyzing user acceptance test results, your UX designer understands exactly why the users need the application.
UI Designers are creative designers who care about the overall user perception of the interactive interface. They are interested in the functional aspects of site navigation and design, and they are responsible for look-and-feel, consistency, and navigability. Their responsibilities include: graphic design, brand alignment, color scheme, interface design, navigation design, and page architecture. Your UI designers delve into exactly how the interface will function, and produce an end product that is consistent with your brand and strategy.
Finding a digital partner that excels in both UI and UX can be just as challenging as understanding the differences between the two.
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