The Difference Between UX and UI in the Design Process

When it comes to designing and prototyping, the line between UX and UI is often blurred and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. User experience (UX) design and user interface (UI) design are both integral parts of the process, and it’s important to recognize their differences and the purpose of each. Additionally, understanding the differences helps you make the most of your design and prototyping tools to achieve an effective UX and UI.

What’s the difference between UX and UI?

What is UI? The UI (user interface) focuses on the visual elements of the design, and the overall feeling that the design conveys. This includes aspects such as the color palette, typography, button icon designs, and numerous other elements that aim to delight the user and reinforce your brand.

What is UX? UX (user experience) focuses on the overall usefulness and usability of a product, rather than specifically the appearance. As defined by the Nielsen Norman Group, the “user experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.” During the UX phase of the design process, tasks such as user research, wireframing, prototyping, and user testing are key activities. 

CareerFoundry’s contributor, Emil Lamprecht, outlines this in the diagram below, and in his in-depth article about the difference between UX and UI.

Why is UX important?

Good UX design is key to building a successful application because it ensures that the application is useful and usable to your product’s end user. Even with a beautiful and delightful interface, a user who has a hard time achieving value from your product isn’t likely to stay around for long.

While the importance of a good UX is commonly recognized in the modern digital era, utilizing a UX process is still often overlooked. Frequently, teams are concerned about the time and cost of creating prototypes and gathering feedback. But tools like Axure RP have dramatically lowered the barrier to creating realistic prototypes quickly and without writing code.

Axure’s Role in UX/UI

As a UX tool, Axure RP is primarily used by UX designers seeking to create anything from simple wireframes, to fully functional and realistic prototypes. While Axure’s strengths come from its powerful and advanced prototyping capabilities, it also supports the UI design process. Your prototypes can be pixel-perfect and incorporate your color palettes, custom fonts, and other important design elements that fit your existing or desired brand guidelines.

In the past few years, we’ve also added integrations to Figma, Sketch, and Adobe XD, making it easy to import your existing UI designs into Axure RP and transform them into rich, interactive prototypes. Each plugin also allows you to export your designs to Axure Cloud, so that you can host all of your prototypes and artboards in one central place.

Discover UX design and prototyping, and download your free trial of Axure RP to get started!