UX and UI explained simply

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User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) are trendy terms but do you know what they really mean, and how they impact your everyday life?  Read our feature from LinkedIn Pulse, a simple and relatable take on UX vs UI.

Have you ever driven or ridden in a car or truck?  Yes, of course you have!  Ever used the radio in that vehicle?  If the answer is yes, oh man, should you read more.

UX vs UI

This was originally published ~3 years ago on LinkedIn Pulse but it still hits the spot:

I’ve seen the same explanations you’ve seen illustrating the difference between user interface (UI) and user experience (UX), yet there is still mass confusion about these terms.  What is UI?  What is UX?  Are they the same thing?  It’s time to settle this once and for all.

In thinking through the best way to explain this what immediately comes to mind is one of the most fundamental media outlets there is…. the radio.

First, the user interface, or UI.  An example of a user interface is this fine piece of craftsmanship you see in the image above.  The user interface is the screen that you interact with in order to search for and play music, talk radio, etc.  In the case of the radio, the user interface is comprised of the blue buttons on the screen as well as the knobs and buttons that surround the screen.

Second, the user experience, or UX.  The user experience in this scenario is my experience interacting with said user interface (the stereo).  My experience is, well… conflicted.  Since we are talking about a medium with both visual and audio cues, my experience is shaped not only by my interaction with the stereo interface, but also by listening to the content that I just searched for.  It’s likely I’ll have a good experience listening to whatever song or station I just landed on, but the experience I’m having looking at these “gorgeous” blue buttons is, well, NOT GREAT.  I’m in the UX field so perhaps I’m a bit biased, but, this is a stereo for a vehicle that was made in 2012.  But when I look at this interface, it sure feels like 1999!

In most cases, a great interface will pave the way for a great user experience.  And on the other side of the coin a less-than-great interface will often lead to a less-than-great experience.  UI and UX are tightly integrated and quite important to one another, but they are not the same thing.  Simply put, without the interface, there is no experience.

No, I don’t have the Jeep anymore.  Got a Toyota now.  Living the ‘corolla life’ as we say in my house.  The lessons here still make sense today though.  UI and UX are two very different things, yet completely intertwined.  Without one there is no other.

Side note, my current vehicle is 3 years newer than the Jeep yet the UI on the radio still looks the same…  awful.  What’s the deal with car radio UI??  You can pay 10’s of thousands on a product and have such a terrible experience.  I must find out how to infiltrate the ‘vehicle radio UI’ industry and make this right!

3 UX Tools We Use Everyday

  1. Axure (www.axure.com)
    Plan, prototype and get designs ready for a development team to do their thing. Highly touted Version 9 is out now.  Touted as an all-in-one software design tool for creating prototypes, specifications and diagrams.  When using Axure, you’ll never have to ever touch a line of code.
  2. Invision (www.invisionapp.com)
    Great design platform for prototyping and collaborating. If you need to share and gather feedback on design direction, this tool is for you.  Fast, versatile artboards and intelligent canvas navigation.
  3. Google Slides (docs.google.com)
    Google Slides for UX planning? Yessir, we use this all the time.  Create a canvas any size for your project and start adding elements like you would in Photoshop (minus the layers).  For a totally blank, simple canvas to operate on, give this a try.

Featured UX Project

We created this MVP for ShareMyAircraft.com.  It makes it easier for pilots to own and access aircrafts and has the first skills-specific flight instructor database, to our knowledge (the site recommends pilots based on your location or you can search by city or zip code).

@TailWheelsRock! the site looks great, we see those shares and instructors signing up!


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