There’s a new term surfacing in the digital media and design world: user experience and user interface, also known as UX/UI design.
The terminology gained traction in the 2000’s with the widespread use of mobile devices, apps, and websites. Nielsen Norman Group is credited with coining the term UX in the late 1990’s, saying, “‘User experience’ encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.” See source.
UX and UI disciplines are intertwined and interdependent, though distinctly separate.
People often use the terms UX and UI interchangeably because of their similarities in the tech and design world, so let’s explore a few analogies that will help clear up the confusion.
Controlling the air conditioning in your car
Asks where the controls should be located on the dashboard and explores whether it should function as a dial, switch, or button.
Creates any icons that may be on the control and incorporates color—red indicates heat and blue indicates air conditioning.
Building a house
UX is the architect that conceptualizes and maps out the structure for the building, organizing the rooms in a way that makes sense.
UI is the interior designer that makes the house visually appealing and adds paint, furniture, and decor.
Using a washing machine
Considers your problem (dirty clothes) and works to solve it (creating a machine that uses electricity and water to wash the clothes). The UX encompasses the experience as a whole—how will you open/close the machine, where do you put the detergent in, and how will the machine alert you that it is finished?
Determines the way the buttons or dials should look, displays the timer on the screen, and adds labels so you know which cycle to select.
UX is how it works, UI is how it looks.
A UX/UI designer is crucial to a successful website design because they ensure that it works (UX) and looks (UI) good. A UX/UI designer will:
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Vanessa is our designer specializing in all things web-related. She earned her degree in graphic design from Dordt College and discovered her passion for digital design. Vanessa enjoys the challenge of web design because it is always developing and changing. She works to create user interfaces that complement the website’s content for a seamless user experience.