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The difference between UX and UI

1 July 2016
Anat Metz
UX/UI design

In this article, I will attempt to differentiate between the terms UI and UX and state whether one is more important than the other.

UI (User Interface) refers to the parts of the system, website or application which is visible to the user and by which the user is connected to it.

User Experience (UX) is the experience the user experiences while using the system, website or application.

To illustrate the point, we can say that the UI represents the ball, goal and grass of a soccer field while the UX is the feeling you get after successfully scoring during a game.

The UX deals with the experiential aspect of the system/site/app and actually evaluates the user's feelings and level of satisfaction as a result of using the product. The experiential element is derived from the understanding that the users need both practical and emotional response- they want to feel that the website, application or software understands them and their needs, 'speaks' their language and can turn the using process comfortable, simple, user-friendly and even enjoyable.

The user experience is comprised of a rich composition of physical, cognitive and emotional components which include the right design, a comfortable and friendly interface, impressive data architecture, advanced technology and sensitivity to the users' needs. The main objective is to leave the users with a taste for more and make them want to use the system, website or application again.

The user interface has a pivotal role in the user experience: in order to realize the potential for which the users purchased the software or decided to enter the website, a smart and successful user interface is critical. When referring to the user interface we are actually discussing the connection between the user and the technology- the component exposed to the users and is viewed by them when performing any action. The quality of the interface is dictated by its developers who are supposed to translate the vision into a simple, clear and orderly physical platform.


Returning to our soccer game/field metaphor, the UX field will attempt to enter the player's shows and figure out how the player would probably want to feel: young, athletic, agile, confident etc. The UI field will convert this "experience picture" unto practical tools: a young, muscular player with dry-fit uniform, soft and light shoes, the right size and weight soccer ball, etc.

Nevertheless, we must remember that the user interface is only one component of many a composition which is the user experience. It is only a certain aspect of the world of UX which also involves design, data architecture, strategy, marketing and technology as well as emotional, human and sensory aspects.

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