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What is UX and UI Design?

Let’s start with the basics. As the name suggests User experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) design are concepts that capture the entire lifecycle of the product’s interaction with the user. UX and UI are often used in conversation interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Let’s understand the difference. 

User Experience Design (UX) – The Definition

UX design is made of two terms, users and experiences. To put it simply, any experience (be it physical, mental, or emotional) that a user goes through while using your product is called user experience design. It is not restricted to online products, it encompasses everything we touch, feel and use in our daily lives. 

Physical Product design has been encompassing UX design for a very long time; For example, brands such as Nike, Toyota, or Xerox, all are a brilliant example of good product design. These brands understood the problems, needs, and preferences of the users and crafted the product to offer the best possible solution.  You can read about UX history in detail here. 

In fact, Joseph Dickerson, outlines Walt Disney was the world’s first UX Designer.  The guiding principles from Mark Sklar, President Engineer, Disney to his team members are known as “Mickey’s 10 Commandments.” – The ten commandments hold true to whatever we do in UX today. 
Cognitive psychologist and designer Don Norman is a celebrated cognitive scientist who is also credited with the distinction of coining the term ‘user experience’ in the late 1990s. According to Don, “user experience design is a user-first way of creating products.”

UX in the Digital World

With technology surpassing our everyday needs, today, most of the products have become digital in nature. From shopping to dining, we all have an app that helps us lead our life with ease. Hence, the implication of designing an app or website with the user’s first approach has been critical.

UX takes into consideration the whole ecosystem around the digital products, that is the users, the environmental factors, the technology, the various digital touchpoints, digital behavior of users, the psyche and emotions over digital platforms, and thereby offers a solution that can help solve users problems in the best possible manner. 

For example, Uber provides a very easy solution to the cab booking needs of the users. It understands where the user’s current location is, asks for a destination, shows multiple travel options along with the price, and let’s book a cab within seconds. The entire experience of wanting to book a cab and up till reaching a destination is the UX design of the digital product, Uber App. 

User Interface design (UI) – The Definition

Unlike User Experience Design (UX), User Interface design (UI) is a digital concept, since the interface itself is a digital product. The user interface is a digital screen that serves as the sole point of contact between the company and the user. UI design dictates the look, feel and engagement value in websites and apps. 

The purpose of UI design is to make the digital interface more intuitive and interactive such that it forms a lasting impression in the mind of the end-user. While constructing the visual appeal of the interface, a UI designer typically decides upon the color palette, typography, imagery, and fonts on the web page or app. They perform the vital task of translating a plethora of information relating to the product’s research, development, and functionality into responsive design. 

The difference between UX and UI Design

Now that we have understood the fundamental concepts of UX and UI in the above section, let’s try and demonstrate the difference by using multiple examples and analogies: 


“If you imagine a product as the human body, the bones represent the code which gives it structure. The organs represent the UX design: measuring and optimizing against input for supporting life functions. And UI design represents the cosmetics of the body; its presentation, its senses, and reactions.” – Career Foundry. 

Another interesting analogy is: “UX is the brain while UI is the beauty”

Another analogy could be: “If you imagine a product to be a house, UX would be the raw structure that stands tall as per the blueprint of the house, UI would be the interior design”

Digital Product Examples: 

We have tried to explain the differences in UX and UI roles by taking the example of the two most widely used app, uber and Netflix: 


Though this is not the exhaustive list, the User Experience (UX) of Uber would define the following:

  • Solves the need for travel by providing on-demand cab services. 
  • Accounts for users’ time and provides solutions within seconds.
  • Is intelligent and picks up users location on its own
  • Displays all crucial information within a screen
    1. Type of car
    2. Time of travel
    3. The estimates of travel
  • Provides you with multiple payment options 
  • Allows you to add multiple stops


User Interface (UI) of Uber would deal with

  • The color palette of the app
  • How the map will look, how the movement of the cab will be displayed
  • Font and color on the screen 
  • Sounds the app makes to signify the arrival of the car
  • The icons, the input field style


Though this is not the exhaustive list, the User Experience (UX) of Netflix would define the following:

  • Solves the need for entertainment by populating content from various producers
  • Segregates the kind of content on the menu bar (movies, tv shows, etc.)
  • Further categorization of content according to popularity, trending, genre, language, etc. 
  • Personalizes the content feed based on your watching history
  • Gives an overview of each content on the same screen
  • Allows you  to resume watching content from where you left
  • Search bar option for quick results

The User Interface (UI) of Netflix would deal with: 

  • Decides how the library of content  will be displayed on the screen – they have chosen a card-style layout
  • On hover, how a card pops out 
  • The button style, interaction (how the button color changes), the arrow style

. . .

Top 10 questions, we all mostly have as we begin to understand UX & UI design

What is UX Design?

In a nutshell, UX design is:
– The process of initiating, identifying and understanding consumer behaviour and translating that information into products.
– A cognitive science discipline that is largely practiced in the digital domain.
– Not about how it looks but about how it works and feels for the end-user.

What is UI Design?

In a nutshell, UI design is:
– A digital concept
– A discipline that takes stock of the visual strategy on the web page or app. Fonts, images, colors, typography, icons, and buttons are all elements of UI design.
– UI translates the brand strategy into visual design. UI design is all about the looks!

What’s the difference between UI and UX?

If you imagine a product to be a house, UX would be the raw structure that stands tall as per the blueprint of the house, UI would be the interior design.

What are the elements of the UX Process?

The defining elements of the UX process are, for an in-depth understanding read here:
– Conducting user research
– Personas and Information Architecture
– Simplifying User Journey
– Prototyping and User Testing
– Identity Checks

What is the process of UI?

UI designers have to put on the hat of an astute visualizer and observe the way people behave. There is no defined process for UI in the industry, however, design veterans plan the product development in the following way:
– Understanding Brand and establishing mental and emotional connect
– Understanding Technology
– Styling the interface
– Sampling and feedback

What are the principles of UX?

User experience design is a product-specific discipline, however,  the underlying principles of UX design are the same; they exist to ensure we create intuitive, memorable user experiences that keep them asking for more:
– Focus on user’s needs
– Define a hierarchy 
– Law of Familiarity 
– Inclusive design
– Remove redundancies/ Less is More

What are the Principles of UI Design?

Users always come back to a product interface that seems to get the job done with the minimum effort. While designing an interface you should keep the following in mind:
– Let the user decide how they wish to use your product
– Reduce the cognitive load of users
– Principle of Familiarity
– Principle of Consistency
– Interaction friendly interfaces

What are UX best practices?

Let’s glance through a list of UX best practices that dictate how leading UX designers approach the subject and define what’s standard in today’s marketplace and in the time to come:
– Clear the Clutter
– Don’t keep people (users) waiting
– Tell them what’s right or wrong
– Include everyone
– Integration across all devices

What are UI best practices?

Unlike UX, interface design is a visible, distinguishable and tangible part of the UI design. Here’s what the best in the business do to make memorable user interfaces:
– Never skip the user research 
– Consistency of design
– Stick to the brand theme
– Insert standard frames and input controls
– Keep interacting with the user

What are the benefits of UX/UI  design?

UX design is the language of communication between a user and a product. Here are some benefits of UX design:
– UX helps you gain an in-depth understanding of the product and audience
– UX helps in planning the product life cycle
– User experience creates custom experiences for different users
– Good UX means better ROI
– UX design improves the quality of life
– Good UX helps in further development

Published by Rewa Ketkar

UX / UI Designer

Rewa Ketkar UX / UI Designer