What are UX and UI in the first place?

UX designers come from all walks of life, and you don’t necessarily need a university degree to break into the field. Employers tend to look for a mixture of design skills, business acumen and soft skills. Some requirements you will often see in UX designer job descriptions include:

Applying Design Thinking to Wicked Problems

First things first: What do UX and UI actually mean? The people you have eavesdropped on are actually discussing two professions that, despite having been around for decades, and in theory for centuries, have been defined by the tech industry as UX and UI design.

UX design refers to the term “user experience design”, while UI stands for “user interface design”. Both elements are crucial to a product and work closely together. But despite their professional relationship, the roles themselves are quite different, referring to very different aspects of the product development process and the design discipline.

A list of differences between UX and UI design

What is user experience (UX) design?

User experience design is a human-first way of designing products. Don Norman, a cognitive scientist and co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group Design Consultancy, is credited with coining the term “user experience” in the late 1990s. Here’s how he describes it:

Clear, right? Well you might note immediately that despite what I implied in the introduction, the definition has no reference to tech, no mention of digital, and doesn’t tell us all that much about what a UX designer actually does. But like all professions, it’s impossible to distill the process from just a few words.

Still, Don Norman’s definition tells us that, regardless of its medium plenty of non-digital UX (and there is out there!), UX Design encompasses any and all interactions between a potential or active customer and a company. As a scientific process it could be applied to anything; street lamps, cars, Ikea shelving, and so on.

UX and the digital world

However, despite being a scientific term, its use since inception has been almost entirely within digital fields; one reason for this being that the tech industry started blowing up around the time of the term’s invention.

Essentially, UX applies to anything that can be experienced—be it a website, a coffee machine, or a visit to the supermarket. The “user experience” part refers to the interaction between the user and a product or service. User experience design, then, considers all the different elements that shape this experience.

What does UX design involve?

A UX designer thinks about how the experience makes the user feel, and how easy it is for the user to accomplish their desired tasks. They also observe and conduct task analyses to see how users actually complete tasks in a user flow.

What is user interface (UI) design?

Despite it being an older and more practiced field, the question of “What is user interface design?” is difficult to answer because of its broad variety of misinterpretations. While user experience is a conglomeration of tasks focused on the optimization of a product for effective and enjoyable use, user interface design is its complement; the look and feel, the presentation and interactivity of a product.

UI and the digital world

So let’s set the record straight once and for all. Unlike UX, user interface design is a strictly digital term. A user interface is the point of interaction between the user and a digital device or product—like the touchscreen on your smartphone, or the touchpad you use to select what kind of coffee you want from the coffee machine.

In relation to websites and apps, UI design considers the look, feel, and interactivity of the product. It’s all about making sure that the user interface of a product is as intuitive as possible, and that means carefully considering each and every visual, interactive element the user might encounter.

What does UI design involve

Like user experience design, user interface design is a multi-faceted and challenging role. It is responsible for the transference of a product’s development, research, content and layout into an attractive, guiding and responsive experience for users.

The history of UX design

Some of the most basic tenets of UX can be traced as far back as 4000 BC to the ancient Chinese philosophy of Feng Shui, which focuses on arranging your surroundings in the most optimal, harmonious or user-friendly way. There is also evidence to suggest that, as early as the 5th century BC, Ancient Greek civilizations designed their tools and workplaces based on ergonomic principles.

A definitive timeline of the history of UX

In the late 19th century, great thinkers and industrialists like Frederick Winslow Taylor and Henry Ford began integrating basic experience design principles into their production processes. On a mission to make human labor more efficient, Taylor conducted extensive research into the interactions between workers and their tools—just like UX designers today investigate how users interact with products and services.

“When the point of contact between the product and the people becomes a point of friction, then the [designer] has failed. On the other hand, if people are made safer, more comfortable, more eager to purchase, more efficient—or just plain happier—by contact with the product, then the designer has succeeded.”
— Henry Dreyfuss, Industrial Engineer

In the early 90s, cognitive scientist Don Norman joined the team at Apple as their User Experience Architect, making him the first person to have UX in his job title. He came up with the term “user experience design” because he wanted to “cover all aspects of the person’s experience with a system, including industrial design, graphics, the interface, the physical interaction, and the manual.”

Since then, each of these areas have expanded into specializations of their own. These days, there’s a growing tendency for companies to hire for very specific roles, such as UX researcher or interaction designer, to cover all of the different aspects of user experience.

For centuries, humans have been seeking to optimize their surroundings for maximum user comfort. These days, the term UX design has strong digital connotations, often referring to apps, websites, software, gadgets and technology, but also appears is in the non-digital world.

UX design disciplines: The quadrant model

Diagram depicting the 4 quadrants of UX design

Experience Strategy (ExS)

UX design is not just about the end user; it also brings huge value to the business providing the product or service. Experience strategy is all about devising a holistic business strategy, incorporating both the customer’s needs and those of the company.

Interaction Design (IxD)

Interaction design looks at how the user interacts with a system, considering all interactive elements such as buttons, page transitions and animations. Interaction designers seek to create intuitive designs that allow the user to effortlessly complete core tasks and actions.

User Research (UR)

UX design is all about identifying a problem and designing the solution. This requires extensive research and feedback from existing or potential customers. During the research phase, UX designers will launch surveys, conduct interviews and usability testing, and create user personas in order to understand the end user’s needs and objectives. They gather both qualitative and quantitative data and use this to make good design decisions. Learn how to conduct user experience research in our article on it.

Information Architecture (IA)

The short answer is that information architecture is the practice of organizing information and content in a meaningful and accessible way. This is crucial in helping the user to navigate their way around a product. To determine the IA of any given product, information architects consider the relationship between different sets of content.

Within these four areas, there is a whole host of sub-disciplines. As you can see in the following graphic, user experience design is so much more than just a case of sketching and wireframing. It’s a multidisciplinary field, drawing upon elements of cognitive science and psychology, computer science, communication design, usability engineering and more.

A diagram depicting the different disciplines of UX design

UX vs. UI design: Which career path is right for you?

While UX and UI design do go hand-in-hand, you don’t need to be a master of both. If you want to figure out which career path is right for you, it’s important to consider the key skills required by UX vs. UI designers, as well as the typical day-to-day tasks of each. In the following infographic, we’ve highlighted the main hard, soft, and transferable skills for both UX and UI designers. And, in the next sections, we’ll consider the main tasks and responsibilities.

A list of the hard, soft, and transferable skills required for a career in UX design vs. a career in UI design

What does a UX designer do?

So we now know, in abstract terms, what the role of the UX designer entails—but how does this translate into everyday tasks? Here is a cliffnotes example of a UX designer’s typical tasks and responsibilities. You’ll find a more detailed account of the UX design process in this guide.

Strategy and content:

Wireframing and prototyping:

Execution and analytics

So part-marketer, part-designer, part-project manager; the UX role is complex, challenging and multi-faceted. In fact, the role of the UX designer varies hugely depending on the type of company they’re working in. You see that iteration of the product, as connected to analysis or testing is indeed mentioned twice, but in reality you would put it in between every other item on the list. Ultimately, the aim is to connect business goals to user’s needs through a process of user and usability testing and refinement toward that which satisfies both sides of the relationship.

What does a UI designer do?

If you like the idea of creating awesome user experiences but see yourself as a more visual person, you may be more interested in UI design. You’ll find a brief snapshot of the UI designer’s key tasks below, or a more comprehensive explanation of what a UI designer actually does in this guide.

The look and feel of the product:

Responsiveness and interactivity:

As a visual and interactive designer, the UI role is crucial to any digital interface and, for customers, a key element to trusting a brand. While the brand itself is never solely the responsibility of the UI designer, its translation to the product is.

You’ll also note the final point which states a responsibility for “implementation” of the design with a developer. While this is generally how UI jobs have worked in the past, you should be aware that the lines are blurring, as the term “web designer” (essentially a UI designer who can code) is being replaced by expertise of user interface designers. While UX has no need for coding, UI is a role that, as time progresses, will rely on it as part of building interactive interfaces. We discuss whether designers should learn to code in this piece.

Which is better paid, UX or UI?

On average you’ll find that UI and UX jobs have similar salary ranges across startups and minor tech industries. You’ll find however that in tech industries outside the web and mobile fields (e.g. car companies, medical equipment manufacturers, etc) there are more and richer opportunities for UI designers, as the field is not only more established but has a more direct, business-driven application.

Why do companies often advertise UX/UI roles as one?

The truth is, in the grand scheme of things, UX and UI are still relatively new fields—and, as already mentioned, they tend to be specific to the tech industry. Outside the worlds of design and tech, they’re not so widely understood, despite being incredibly important for business. While the business value of good design is increasingly recognized, there’s still a tendency for hiring managers and recruiters to assume that UX and UI are done by the same person—hence the catch-all job ads you’ve no doubt come across.

It’s not always a simple case of misunderstanding, though. Many companies will deliberately seek out versatile designers who can cover both UX and UI, or who at least have an understanding of UX or UI principles in addition to their main skillset.

So how can you work out what’s really going on? Whether you’re looking for a UI-only role, a purely UX-focused career, or a mixture of both, it’s important to look beyond the job title and pay close attention to the skills, tasks and responsibilities listed. Now you know the difference between UX and UI, you should quickly be able to determine whether a job ad is actually geared towards one or the other, or if it’s deliberately targeting both.

UX vs. UI: How do you work out which is a better fit?

If you’re keen to pursue a career in design but still aren’t sure whether to focus on UX or UI, you’ll need to spend some time thinking about where your interests lie, as well as what you’re naturally good at. Both UX and UI design are highly collaborative, varied career paths, placing you right at the cutting edge of technology and innovation. With that said, there are some key differences between the nature of the work and the skills required.

Why did I write this article?

I would like to quickly articulate the motivations behind this post. Firstly, there is seemingly a clear need for more articles of this type as I find few experts bothering to publicly define the differences of UX and UI design. As I’ve mentioned time and time again, the fields are confused, and unnecessarily so. My hope is that, whether beginner or expert, you can take something away from this article and share it with others who are as confused as the hiring managers writing the job posts.

Secondly, if you are interested in learning either or both of these disciplines, I hope to have made their definitions clear enough for you to better decide which to start with, or which may be inherently more attractive to you as a future profession.

For example if you think it’s UX that’s the path for you, you can start drawing up a step-by-step guide to your career change. In this video, professional UX designer Maureen Herben shares her advice on making a plan:

Lastly, I feel it important to stimulate conversation. I am hoping that some of you lovely readers disagree with me and that you will voice it publicly by getting in touch with us or publishing a response. If our industry is confused, it is our job to un-confuse it, and the more passionate professionals that step up and contribute to the definition, the better.

The difference between UX and UI: A visual overview

A full-page infographic listing the differences between UX and UI design in terms of tasks, skills, and where they fit into the overall product design process



It’s common for folks to use these terms interchangeably, or sometimes incorrectly. If you’ve ever wondered, “What is UI, what is UX, and what’s the difference between them?” in today’s post we’ll dig a bit deeper into UI and UX to get a better understanding of the differences between them.

Qu’est-ce que l’UX Design ?


Simply put, user interface (UI) is anything a user may interact with to use a digital product or service. This includes everything from screens and touchscreens, keyboards, sounds, and even lights. To understand the evolution of UI, however, it’s helpful to learn a bit more about its history and how it has evolved into best practices and a profession.

A brief history of the user interface

Back in the 1970’s, if you wanted to use a computer, you had to use the command line interface. The graphical interfaces used today didn’t yet exist commercially. For a computer to work, users needed to communicate via programming language, requiring seemingly infinite lines of code to complete a simple task.

By the 1980’s the first graphical user interface (GUI) was developed by computer scientists at Xerox PARC. With this groundbreaking innovation, users could now interact with their personal computers by visually submitting commands through icons, buttons, menus, and checkboxes.

first graphical user interface (GUI)

The accessibility and prevalence of personal—and office—computers meant that interfaces needed to be designed with users in mind. If users couldn’t interact with their computers, they wouldn’t sell. As a result, the UI designer was born.

As with any growing technology, the UI designer’s role has evolved as systems, preferences, expectations, and accessibility has demanded more and more from devices. Now UI designers work not just on computer interfaces, but mobile phones, augmented and virtual reality, and even “invisible” or screenless interfaces (also referred to as zero UI) like voice, gesture, and light.

Today’s UI designer has nearly limitless opportunities to work on websites, mobile apps, wearable technology, and smart home devices, just to name a few. As long as computers continue to be a part of daily life, there will be the need to make the interfaces that enable users of all ages, backgrounds, and technical experience can effectively use.

L’UX est holistique !

Quelle est l’origine du terme UX ?

Pour rappel, Don Norman estimait que les termes “IHM” (Interactions Homme-Machine) ou “utilisabilité” ne couvraient pas l’ensemble de l’expérience. En créant le terme UX, il a souhaité insister sur l’expérience humaine dans sa globalité, non limitée aux interactions avec un système (IHM) ou à l’efficacité d’une interface (utilisabilité).

Une vision trop étroite de l’UX

Don Norman souligne – dans une interview datée de 2016 – à quel point le terme UX est mal utilisé désormais. Des concepteurs restreignent l’UX à la fabrication d’applications digitales ou de sites web alors que l’UX est holistique. C’est une expérience qui, dès son invention, est censé s’inscrire dans une globalité.

Cette notion de globalité est particulièrement importante à l’heure actuelle, où il est partout question d’écosystème. Les entreprises doivent utiliser plusieurs canaux pour atteindre leur cible et réfléchir à l’expérience complète, sans rupture ni “pain points”. Soigner l’UX favorise la création de valeur pour les clients ou consommateurs. C’est en cela qu’un Design centré sur l’utilisateur peut répondre aux désirs des utilisateurs et aux objectifs business. Cette valeur ajoutée de l’UX Design est aussi un élément déterminant dans le cadre d’une stratégie d’innovation.

Une marque telle qu’Apple l’a compris très tôt en développant une offre consistant à rendre un bon produit encore meilleur grâce au travail sur l’expérience utilisateur. Cela a donné le succès qu’on connaît à la marque à la pomme.

Qu’est-ce que l’UX Design ?

UX Design ou comment accroître la satisfaction de l’utilisateur

« Le Design de l’expérience utilisateur (UXD ) est le processus qui consiste à accroître la satisfaction de l’utilisateur en améliorant l’utilisabilité, l’accessibilité et le plaisir procuré par l’interaction entre l’utilisateur et le produit.»

UX Design ou comment faire coïncider les besoins de l’entreprise avec ceux des utilisateurs finaux

Le spécialiste UX (UX Designer), se pose ces questions mais tient aussi compte des objectifs business de l’entreprise. À partir de techniques scientifiques, le Designer évalue la qualité de l’interaction entre l’utilisateur et le produit. En définitive, l’UX Design permet de faire coïncider les besoins de l’entreprise et ceux des utilisateurs finaux. Cette caractéristique rappelle le Design Thinking en tant qu’approche de l’innovation comme nous le verrons plus bas. D’ailleurs, la « pensée Design » tend vers la résolution de problèmes.

UX Design ou comment provoquer une réaction émotionnelle

L’explication qu’il en donne est intéressante. La plupart des définitions de l’UX Design mettent l’accent sur la facilité d’utilisation du produit et la satisfaction ressenti. Or on peut noter que certaines personnes peuvent aimer jouer à un jeu angoissant, regarder un film d’horreur, vouloir prendre des risques etc. Une expérience pourra être perçue négativement par tel utilisateur et positivement par tel autre. Le principe est donc de concevoir le produit qui amène LA réponse émotionnelle recherchée par tel utilisateur, de là l’usage du Design émotionnel.

Курс 3

Web Design: Strategy and Information Architecture

This course is focused on the early user experience (UX) challenges of research, planning, setting goals, understanding the user, structuring content, and developing interactive sequences. While the concepts covered will translate to many kinds of interactive media (apps, digital kiosks, games), our primary focus will be on designing contemporary, responsive websites. In this course you will complete the first half of a large scale project—developing a comprehensive plan for a complex website—by defining the strategy and scope of the site, as well as developing its information architecture and overall structure. Along the way we will also discuss:

– Different job descriptions in the web design industry and where UX and UI skills fall within this spectrum – The difference between native apps and websites – The difference of agile vs. waterfall approaches – User personas and site personas – User testing The work and knowledge in this course continues in the last course in the UI/UX Design Specialization, Web Design: Wireframes to Prototypes, where you will tackle—finally—wireframes, visual mockups, and clickable prototypes. This is the third course in the UI/UX Design Specialization, which brings a design-centric approach to user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design, and offers practical, skill-based instruction centered around a visual communications perspective, rather than on one focused on marketing or programming alone. These courses are ideal for anyone with some experience in graphic or visual design and who would like to build their skill set in UI or UX for app and web design. It would also be ideal for anyone with experience in front- or back-end web development or human-computer interaction and want to sharpen their visual design and analysis skills for UI or UX.



People react to their user experience at 3 levels of emotion, as defined by Don Norman: Visceral, Behavioral, and Reflective emotions. Understanding these different types of emotions is important for better UX design.

marvel design platform


invision craft

Craft, a plugin from InVision, works right alongside what you might be doing in Photoshop or Sketch, with a sync function that updates what you’re working on. Along with this time-saving feature, Craft offers everything you need for prototyping and collaboration. Changes in styling, edits, and other tweaks are updated across the board so that everyone is referring to and working from the same version of a project.

Craft sets itself apart from other UI design tools with its placeholder content. You get access to both Getty and iStock photos, letting you fill your layout with better visuals. And if there’s data in your layout, you can use your own or bring it in from other sources. Not many UI design tools let you fill your mockups with more meaningful content. This special feature of Craft gives your mockups a more accurate representation of what a final design might look like.



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