How to explain the difference between UI and UX Design

What's UX and UI Design?

Every designer, marketing, or a business professional has heard the term UX and UI design. Do they know the difference between UI and UX?

It has happened to me in UX job interviews more than once. We start talking and realize they are actually looking for a UI Designer. How often has that happened to you?

How do you explain to your clients, friends, family, and job interviewers the difference between UX and UI?

What’s UX?

Defining User Experience Design (UX) is very complicated. We can use its techniques not only for building digital products but also to grow non-digital spaces.

When you visit Disney World, you have a “user experience.” The park has different sections: Fantasy Land, Adventure Land, etc. The visitor can stay in one “land” for an entire visit or easily flow to another “land.” Each area has a well-crafted, unique story to provide an experience that guests could not get anywhere else.

Elumina: UX & UI designers
Walt Disney park

UX on a mobile app is no different; the design goal is to make the product easy to use, to invoke emotions and delight.

While Walt Disney was the world’s first UX DesignerDonald Norman was the first UXer of the digital era; in 1993, he joined Apple as a User Experience Architect. He was the first to use the term “User Experience” in a job title.

UX Designers are Marketers, yes we are!

We UXers are problem solvers, and our approach to problem-solving works by understanding the user’s goals, needs, and tasks, and delivering user satisfaction.

Everyone familiar with the marketing theory knows that it is a process necessarily oriented toward customer satisfaction.

Marketing has never been about mere selling, nor is it at odds with the concept of UX. People usually misunderstand the marketing concept.

Don’t get me wrong: though we work to satisfy our customers/users, we do not have to do the marketing guy’s job. We’ll cooperate with them, but the more we know about marketing, the better our job is done.

The UX Design Process

The UX Process gives a range of techniques that can be used to create a digital product. You don’t have to follow every step of it; we UXers should learn when to use these techniques depending on: the project, the budget, and the deadlines.

This process is not linear, there’s a lot of back-and-forths, as the designer learns more about the project, it may be necessary to revisit some steps, get more feedback, and try new approaches.

Elumina: The UX Process

While UX professionals are involved in every part of the process, indeed, they don’t have to be experts in each one.

The disciplines UXers need to master:

– Competitor Analysis:

Every project should start by analyzing the competition. Here we will understand how our competitors are solving similar goals we may have.

– User research:

Here the goal is to understand the users, by interviewing them, doing surveys. If it’s an ongoing project: reviewing the analytics information, auditing the content, and making usability tests, the output of all this data analysis should be in the form of personas, user stories, use cases, user flows, and Story Boards.

– Usability:

It involves validating interfaces, flows, and overall products to ensure we are checking in with our users throughout the process, and our products meet their needs and are easy to use.

– Content strategy:

It is the discipline that focuses on planning, developing, and maintaining the content that will populate the information structure, defined in the information architecture phase.

– Information architecture:

Information architecture is the discipline that structures the user’s experience through and between channels, i.e., a site, or app, or the company message. On a micro-scale, we’re talking about defining the navigation. On a macro scale, we’re talking about the information flow across channels and products.

And as UI Designer, what should I master?

Elumina: difference between ui and ux

When it comes to user interface design, I heartily believe the UI professional should be involved in the Strategy, Discovery, and Analysis phases. However, it’s in the Design and Development phases that the UI designer shines.

Layout, colors, typography

We, UI Designers, are responsible for converting the brand’s strengths and visual assets to a product’s interface to enhance the user’s experience. We determine the layout, the colors, and the typography – we are committed to the look and feel, the presentation and interactivity of a product.

Then, we create a style guide for the frontend engineering team to build the actual interface. Our position requires customer analysis, design research, branding, and graphic development, prototyping, interactivity, animation, adaptation to different device screen sizes, and implementation with the developers – always aiming to maintain consistency throughout the pages.

UI is crucial to any digital product because its goal is to translate the brand values and UX guidelines into the interface.

An excellent user interface establishes trust between customers and the brand.

While the brand design itself is not the UI designer’s responsibility, its translation to the product is.

Is UX More Important Than UI?

As the designer and expert Helga Moreno states in her article The Gap Between UX And UI Design:

Something that looks great but is difficult to use is exemplary of great UI and poor UX. While something very usable that looks terrible is exemplary of great UX and poor UI.

Helga Moreno

They are both crucial!

Wrapping up the difference between UI and UX

Dawn Schlech helps us to understand the difference between UX and UI Design. UX Is Not UI.


Makes Interfaces Beautiful
Makes Emotional Connections
Design Is Done Second…(it should be)
Only Pertains To Interfaces


Makes Interfaces Useful
Helps Users Accomplish Goals
Design Is Done First
Employed Across Products, Interfaces, And Services

Hopefully, this will help you understand (and explain to your clients) the difference between UI and UX. Next, we will list which are the best backgrounds you should have to become a UX designer. Maybe you’ve got one of them? Or lots?

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Can you point out any other difference between UI and UX? Please enlighten us!

Meanwhile, get a little help on How to Create a Strong, Winning Design Proposal.

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For a developer, testings, stack overflow, the difference between UI and UX basics, or User Interface and User Experience, is key knowledge.