User interface (UI) and user experience (UX) are two frequently used buzzwords tossed around in the web and marketing industry, but it’s easy to confuse the two. In truth, people using the two seem to use them interchangeably — sometimes we’re not so convinced everyone using the terms knows the difference either.
While both pertain to the dynamic between a user and a product or website, there is a substantial difference between the two. Most importantly, understanding the nuances and attributes of each is crucial to building an engaging website for your brand.
So what does UI and UX really mean for websites?
In a word, UI is the way visitors will interact with your site. It’s how your website is presented, laid out, and how it functions. It’s how easy it is for someone to find the pages and information they need, buy a product, or subscribe to your blog.
In contrast, UX is the complete experience for a user on your website. UX encompasses the quality of your content and graphic design, as well as the impressions and mood your site evokes in the user. It even includes how fast pages load. If UI is the steering wheel and console controls of a muscle car, then UX is the sound of the engine roaring under the hood, the feeling of the high-quality leather on the stick shift.
There’s no question that UI and UX are extremely important. For example, think about iPhones versus Androids, and everything people say about the two. As far as tech capabilities go, the two are basically evenly matched.
But using each is a dramatically different experience, because they are designed with unique UI and UX. As a result, you have die-hard Apple fans (seriously, it’s almost like a cult) and people who swear by Google’s Android.
On the flip side of the coin, it’s pretty unpleasant to navigate this ski resort site or even Ryan Stiles’ site. We liked Ryan in Whose Line as much as the next guy, but seriously, his site could use a little love!
Bottom line, if you’re building a website, it is essential that you have expertise in bothUI and UX. It’s not enough for you to have expertise in only one or the other, or to have one “expert” who doesn’t understand the similarities and differences.
Whether that’s a single professional, a team, or an ad agency, it’s vital that you cover both of your bases. If you skimp on UI and UX design, can rest assured that visitors to your site will notice.
A great business knows to honor and respect their site’s visitors — make sure UI and UX are spoken of in the planning stage of your website project, not an after-thought.