What is UX design to you?

over 6 years ago from , Freelance Designer

I recently had a client that asked me for UI design. I give him my quote and send him back the email. He emails me back "do you do UX design?"

Naturally to me UI and UX design go hand in hand when making web design.

So I'm wondering with your clients, what is UX to you?


  • Phil RauPhil Rau, over 6 years ago

    UI is the skin, UX is the bones & muscles.

    11 points
    • David MatthewsDavid Matthews, over 6 years ago

      Well put Phil. In my company UI and UX are treated differently. UI designers are deep into Photoshop and making things pretty. UX is more analytical with best practice and what not. I ride the line between both and plan out the UX during sketches and planning.

      2 points
    • Dmitri LitvinovDmitri Litvinov, over 6 years ago

      Perhaps the simplest way you could possibly put it, great comparison.

      0 points
    • Martin LeBlancMartin LeBlanc, over 6 years ago

      I don't agree. UI is the user interface - how you interact with it and how it looks, will impact the UX (user experience).

      0 points
      • Dmitri LitvinovDmitri Litvinov, over 6 years ago

        I agree with you.

        But what happens when you're a freelancer and don't have that many resources for UX design, you are basically left to your own vices to create UX and UI at the same time

        0 points
        • Martin LeBlancMartin LeBlanc, over 6 years ago

          My point is that UI and UX is not different things. If you choose to do the whole UI in bright red flashing colors, it will affect the UX.

          0 points
  • Chris De La FuenteChris De La Fuente, over 6 years ago

    This simplifies things a bit: http://cl.ly/AX4l/o

    10 points
  • Peter Stacho, over 6 years ago

    The best definition I've seen for UX Design comes form Jesse James Garrett:

    “Experience design is the design of anything, independent of medium or across media, with human experience as an explicit outcome and human engagement as an explicit goal.”

    An interface provides users with an experience. Which is why UI/UX often get used interchangeably. However, the two are not to be confused.

    To me, UX is design thinking. If we design interfaces with UX in mind, the idea is that we'll create better products. Screens that are more enjoyable to interact with. But, remember that UX can be applied almost anywhere. It's not limited to just the UI design profession.

    Here's an example, a tweet I sent to Subway (they never responded) addressing a UX issue that has nothing to do with UI:

    "@Subway, how about bags that lay a sandwich horizontally, instead of vertically?You know, so the sauce doesn't drip to one side. #ux #design"

    And yes, you could argue that the bag actually is the ui in this case.

    Dain Miller wrote an interesting article on this subject last year: http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2012/06/ui-vs-ux-whats-the-difference/

    6 points
    • Andrew RitchieAndrew Ritchie, over 6 years ago

      Then does that mean you think of UI design is strictly visual design for the actual interface elements? Honestly I've always used UI and UX interchangeably to describe the sort of design you describe as UI.

      0 points
      • Peter Stacho, over 6 years ago

        The user interface (UI) design has the most significant impact on what the user experience (UX) will be, but it's not the only factor.

        Some other factors that contribute to UX are speed, content, accessibility, and sound. Depending on the size of your team, the UI designer may be tasked with these items as well.

        The term UI Design is typically used to describe the visual & interaction design of an application. UX gets misused fairly often, so when people ask me what I do I often resort to just telling them "I design software."

        0 points
  • Tim RoeleveldTim Roeleveld, over 6 years ago

    Maybe you could compare it with humans? I think UI Design is the look and UX Design is the feeling!

    When you're good looking, but a bad person, no one would like u! Now you should realise UX is very important, because when you're a good person, but bad looking, people still like you.

    I think it's the same in the design world!

    5 points
  • Arun PattnaikArun Pattnaik, over 6 years ago

    In the ultimate analysis, the goal of UI is to deliver sex, while the goal of UX is to deliver orgasms.

    I've been itching to say this for a while. First comment on DN.

    4 points
  • Matt Pinheiro, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    Let's rephrase it?

    User Experience (UX) design have a lot of disciplines, but five are most important:

    • Visual design (often said UI Design): The aesthetics of what you're designing. This work will define the color scheme, the icons, the pixels themselves.
    • Interaction design (often wrongly said UX Design): How people will interact with your application. If they click here, what happens? And what if they tap there?
    • Usability: How usable is your site? Is it easy to get what I'm looking for? Is the text big enough? Do the buttons look like buttons?
    • Information Architecture: How the content of your website is organised. How do the menu looks like? What pages relate to each other? How do they relate?
    • User research: How well do the design performs when used by real users? Does it have any problems? What's the best thing about it? How can it be better?

    There are a lot of posts on this matter, but I hope this is a short way of making it clear :)

    EDIT: Of course, we're talking about software design (apps, websites, etc). UX design can be applied to everything (literally everything) and have different disciplines for different scenarios. Experience is what happens when someone uses a product. We can go down to the metaphysics of it and say that experiences can't be designed, that we can only design the framework for it and blah blah blah, but let's keep it short for the sake of this discussion, ok?

    2 points
  • Adam MichielsAdam Michiels, over 6 years ago

    I agree that the lines are pretty blurry everywhere you look. I think that's a bi-product of the many different environments we all work in (UX 'design' is going to mean very different things between startups and massive enterprise corporate work. but our CVs read the same).

    I tend to view UX design as a generalized approach, responsible for all associated disciplines (IA, Usability, Ergonomics, Accessibility, and so on). "Responsible" here might mean actually responsible for producing deliverables across each of those disciplines, or it might mean managing a team of experts in each field. In other cases it might mean figuring out whether they're even necessary for this or that project.

    I end up splitting up my time across strategy, testing, Information Architecture, and mostly advise on UI to a larger art/studio/dev team. When I work with smaller more agile teams I find I'm stretching my visual design legs more.

    I tend to think that this is a free for all right now, and anyone who claims to know where the boundaries lie is probably treating things simplistically.

    2 points
  • Dave Yoon, over 6 years ago

    I'd say that UX is what causes an emotional response when a human interacts with something beyond their physical self. This being the joy or frustration a person inexplicably feels when using a tool, regardless of it being physical or abstract.

    Conversely, UI would pertain to not only the way something looks, but to the way an undefined object hints at it's own purpose through the use of visual cues.

    1 point
  • Dirk HCM van BoxtelDirk HCM van Boxtel, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    UI design is an interior decorator for your website.

    UX design is the architect.

    BAM. Gimme my points.

    Jokes aside, that's my view, albeit grossly over-simplified. To be slightly less blunt about it, I'll have to add that this goes only if you're working with eachother, as most of the time companies employ only a UI designer, and no UX designer next to it. Fact of the matter is that UI/UX designer is a good title too, because that's pretty much how it is when you're alone on a project.

    You can see it the same way as a CEO running a small (5-man?) company on his own. He's not just a CEO, he's a CEO/project manager. However, CEO is a better description of what he does, because it CAN contain PM.

    Make sense? Hope so. Just my humble opion of course. Feel free to burn me.

    1 point
  • Murat MutluMurat Mutlu, over 6 years ago

    I got asked this in a job interview once, I gave a terrible bumbled answer. Will be interested in responses

    1 point
    • Dmitri Litvinov, over 6 years ago

      Its kind of an awkward medium because its a relatively new thing.

      Thanks for your response :)

      0 points
      • Ed LeaEd Lea, over 6 years ago

        I wouldn't say UX is new, it existed way before the web. pre-2007ish for the most part UX was bundled together with UI design. So it was just an assumed part of design.

        It's certainly a newer movement where UX is split into it's own discipline in terms of website development.

        But in terms of product development it's always been around. Maybe this shift is because we see sites as product development now vs what we used to call website development.

        5 points
  • Chris CChris C, over 6 years ago

    UX is not new at all.. and I don't think a practice that focuses on combining a business's goals and a user's goals for that product/service/whatever is "awkward."

    Probably one of the oldest examples of user experience is something that goes as far back as making tools out of wood and rocks. I don't think primitive people got whatever contraption they used for a hammer or a knife right the first time. I'm sure they iterated on many designs because the interface and experience weren't perfect. So in this case, the rock or tool is the UI and the UX came down to the value you got from that tool as a user and how badly, if at all, you hurt yourself using the tool.

    Kind of a long-winded answer but I'm trying to make a few points in there: 1. UX isn't new 2. There IS a difference between them

    0 points
  • Aleksandar DjuricAleksandar Djuric, over 6 years ago

    UI/UX design - functionality mapping and wireframing

    Visual design - styling elements according to wireframe

    0 points
  • barry saundersbarry saunders, over 6 years ago

    UX is a whole bunch of things, but my simple explanation is that design is solving the problem, UX is defining the problem. It's the difference between making a website, and figuring out what the business's problem actually is, so that a designer can solve it.

    I personally solve business problems with user personas, user journeys, requirements workshops, technical architecture diagrams, information architecture, service design mapping, wireframes and prototyping.

    0 points
  • Martin LeBlancMartin LeBlanc, over 6 years ago

    If you are a UI designer, you are influencing the user's experience. Basically it's wrong to say you are doing UX design. You are designing and hoping for a particular user experience - not designing it directly.

    Some people thinks UI = pixels, UX = wireframes - this is a stupid and not a good way build teams or products.

    0 points
    • Dmitri LitvinovDmitri Litvinov, over 6 years ago

      So, what would be the good way?

      0 points
      • Martin LeBlancMartin LeBlanc, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

        The whole team should be aware of what user experience they are going for. When the goal is defined everybody should be working in that direction.

        You can't build a great user experience by doing wireframes - wireframes is just a prototype of the end product.

        Think about a product like Guitar Hero. The user experience is like being a rock star for a couple of minutes. Every part of the product from the UI, the software, the hardware to the choice of songs are what creates this user experience. Should a UX designer (guy who does wireframes) pick the songs? No. Does it affect the user experience? Yes.

        UX is the result of using the whole product - it's not just a single part of a high-level design process. And designing UX involves many disciplines.

        And I don't like the term UX designer - if all he does is create high level wireframes, user testing etc.

        0 points
    • Arun PattnaikArun Pattnaik, over 6 years ago

      How is that stupid? In fact that's pretty close to the facts.

      0 points
      • Martin LeBlancMartin LeBlanc, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

        Because if you work that way you ignore the impact that animations, colors, response times etc. will have on the user experience. User experience is the whole experience. Doing wireframes is as much "user interface" design as picking colors.

        0 points
  • Cihad TurhanCihad Turhan, over 6 years ago

    80% of a product. The rest is data and UI.

    0 points
  • anthony thomasanthony thomas, over 6 years ago

    UX is a discipline within UI design. Not all UI designers have a strong understanding of UX. They may know how to put together a UI, but the UI won't necessarily be clear, efficient and easy to use.

    Knowing how to design navigation menus, checkout pages, landing pages, forms, text fields, buttons, etc. is knowing UI, but knowing how to make it clear, efficient and easy to use is UX.

    0 points
  • Sarper Erel, over 6 years ago

    It has nothing to do with UI. UI is just the touch point of the entire product/brand experience. It itches me every time people use them together with a slash in between.

    0 points
  • Nathan NNathan N, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    I think chapter 3 of the interaction design encyclopedia does a good job answering this question without getting bogged down by useless metaphors.

    0 points