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User Interface (or ‘UI’) vs User Experience (or ‘UX’)

User Experience, Usability and User Interface are a few terms in web design which many people think are interchangeable. It can be interesting to understand the difference.

The User Interface (or ‘UI’) of a website is the space where users interact with the site. This includes the display screens, input devices and the elements on the screen. ‘UI design’ is the creation of the look and feel of the user interface, and covers aspects such as colours, fonts, buttons, animations and so on.

The UI is the major part of the site’s usability, or its “user friendliness”. If the UI is associated more with the aesthetics of the site, the usability relates to its ease of use, especially for the complete universe of users. However, it’s quite acceptable to consider UI design and usability as referring to the same thing.

User Experience (or ‘UX’) is certainly different though. This is about the overall interaction with the site, and the way it meets the user’s needs. Peter Morville’s User Experience Honeycomb is a commonly cited summary of the components of the user experience. It asks: is the site usable, findable, accessible, credible, useful, desirable and valuable?

UX is an increasingly important ranking factor in the search engine results. Google’s EAT concept and metrics such as search intent, page speed, mobile-friendliness, dwell-time and ‘Core Web Vitals‘ all have a role in SEO, and all are part of UX design.

So although there’s an overlap, the User Experience and the User Interface are different. A UX designer will define the user’s entire interaction with a product, while the UI designer will bring that to life. For a website owner, both concepts are worth understanding as well as analysing.