UI and UX

published on June 1, 2011 in technical

Nowadays many companies have realized that their products are, in many cases, unusable (hopefully, but there are a lot of exceptions, sadly). This is true in many fields, from the toaster to the ATM. UI planning and UX are getting more and more attention, luckyly for the users. Let's take a short look at both.

1. The idea

A few days ago, I took part on the Budapest Fronted Meetup where one of the speakers spoke about the UX and he mentioned a few things a disagree with. My problem was that he stated that UX is something tangible, which can be planned, included in the flow of the web development. Well, it is not.

2. UI and UX - differences.

I tend to think that from whatever reasons, people feel that these two have many things in common. This, from a narrow point of view, might even be true, but from broader one, it is not.

UI, as user interface, is a viewable, tangible part of system, software, and its purpose is to give users the possiblity to controll the system. A site might be a UI, a remote control also, the tap in your bathroom, and so forth.

UX, as user experience, stands for a feeling, an experience. Me, as a user, might feel good while using the UI, or might feel real bad about it and never want to use it again.

Tere are huge differences between the two, but the most important is probably that the UI is a objectiv tabgible interface, whereas the UX is not tangible at all, totally up to the feelings of the current user.

Another big difference, almost as big as the above, is the visibility. I can touch the UI, I may interact with it. The UX is not visible at all, nobody can touch it, it is a feeling, and the worst of all, in many cases, it means entirely different things to everyone.

3. Planning, design

While we can design user interfaces, user experience cannot be designed. We may tip what's good for the user, or, if possible, we may improve it.

Why is that? There is no designer that could design me a comfortable chair, without seeing me. Someone might accomplish that, but that would not be planned, he would just be lucky.

When could the designer design me a good chair? If he could see me, measure me, whatch me sit, whatch me use a chair. And here we get to point of this article: UX may be improved by observing the users habits, which might differ according to teir age, IQ, and a lot of other factors. Due to this, UX cannot be planned or designed.