What's the Difference Between UX and UI? A Simple Guide

July 8, 2022

UX vs UI: User Experience vs User Interface. 

When it comes to the world of digital products, UX vs UI is a widely debated topic that can commonly be misunderstood.

Truth is, User Experience and User Interface are both crucial components to front end development.

Both UX & UI bring a different but essential utility in driving customer adoption and growth of your digital product. 

How are they different? Let’s take a look from a bird’s eye view: 

UX vs UI: Architecture vs Interior Design

Let’s say you’re building a home. You’ve selected a location, price, size and now you’re onto the architecture. 

When you build the structure of your home, you might ask: Where will the master bedroom be? How big will the kitchen be? How tall will the ceilings be? Do you need to plan for accessibility? 

After that, you move onto the fun part - interior design choices: What color should the wallpaper be? What kind of lighting fixtures? What should the countertops look like? 

When you think of your house as a digital product, like a website or mobile application, User Experience (UX) serves as the functional architecture, and User Interface (UI) serves as the interior design. 

How? Let’s dive a little deeper…

Architecture = User Experience

User Experience (UX) serves as the functional architecture - the structure of a digital product supported by research that drives why things are where they are. 

So, how are digital products structured through UX? Wireframes. 

Wireframes are like architect’s blueprints - two-dimensional illustrations of a page’s interface that specifically focuses on space allocation, prioritization of content, and available functionalities. 

Every page has a different wireframe, just like every room in a house has a different blueprint. Supported by research, each is crafted to serve a different purpose in the user pathway

Think of the user pathway like this: 

Home Page - Front Porch 

The Home Page gives the user its first impression of your digital product and business, enticing them to step through the door and explore the other rooms.

About Us - Living Room 

The About Us page gives the user a space to hang out and learn more about your product and where it came from. 

Blog or Case Studies - Office or Studio

The Blog and/or Case Studies page gives the user the opportunity to look through the work you’ve done and what you have to say about it. 

Contact Us - Dining Room

The Contact Us page lets the user sit down at the table and talk shop about doing business with your company. 

So, how do you get your customers to go straight from the front porch (Home Page) to the dining room (Contact Us) for your business? 

By understanding your customer’s problems and needs. 

When you know what your customer’s problems and needs are, you can create the digital architecture that will guide them down the right user pathway efficiently to solve their problems. 

Interior Design = User Interface 

User Interface (UI) serves as the interior design - the visual aspects that establish a product’s brand and value. 

If User Experience makes a digital product a house, then User Interface makes it a home

Think of UI as the visual aesthetic and feel of a digital product.

A UX designer builds the structure through the wireframe, but a UI designer chooses the colors, shapes and typography that dress the wireframe to make it feel like your brand for your customers.

Think of the brand colors, logos, font, background, navigation bar, footer, images, text, links, and buttons - that’s all UI. 

A UI designer influences these components to make your product feel comfortable and approachable for your customers. 

Where UX lays the groundwork for the user pathway, UI influences the feel of it to help your customer move through it.

Just as you might paint your front door turquoise to make visitors feel a unique sense of welcome, a UI designer might color the “Get In Touch” button bright orange to inspire them to click the call to action. 

And just like a messy and cluttered house makes you feel unwelcome, an unappealing digital product makes users want to click out and go somewhere else. 

The Answer: UX + UI 

So, what’s the answer to UX vs UI?

 UX + UI. Both must be strong or your product won’t grow. 

If your app is pretty but doesn’t address or solve your customer’s core needs efficiently, what’s the point? 

And if your app runs beautifully, but has an off putting look & feel, it’ll drive users away just as easily. 

That’s why it's so essential to value both UX and UI.

They’re both key to creating a product that is respectful of the customer and what their needs are.

Investing in both sides of front end application development (instead of just backend) pays dividends in driving customer adoption and growth. 

Great Experience Requires Great Technology

If you’re looking to scale up a digital product with great customer experience…

…great experience requires great technology. 

To truly enable a maintainable and scalable user interface and user experience for your customer, invest in your software architecture and design system. 

A well designed software architecture is essential technology to support your user experience, turning your ideas into a scalable product. 

And a design system is a cohesive style and pattern guide for your UX/UI - it creates consistency and ease of use across your digital product, while centralizing maintenance and reducing costs. 

Think of it this way - design system technology aligns with and builds upon the muscle memory that developers create in the technology they use to deliver products.

So instead of forcing your developers to learn another way of doing things, help them become more productive by creating standardized systems around what they’ve already built in the past. 

At Crux Digital, our expert team is built to support great UX, UI and design systems to scale your digital products efficiently as they grow. 

Interested in learning more? Drop us a line today.