What's the Difference Between UX and UI Design?

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What's the Difference Between UX and UI Design?

It's fascinating to see how visual design has changed over the past few decades. In the 70s and 80s, it was all about print design: newspapers, magazines, and books. With the introduction of mainstream technology, focus shifted towards digital design in the 90s. At the turn of the millennium, web design and user interface design came into play. Now there's less of a focus on art, and more of a focus on usability. Present Day: Everything moves quickly, from the cars we drive to the information we send over the internet. With this newfound focus on agility, society has shifted from making things look pretty to making them function quickly. Enter: UX/UI Design.


The short version: UX and UI are often used interchangeably, even though they're quite different. UX Design stands for User Experience Design, and UI Design stands for User Interface Design. UX Design is more analytical and technical. UI Design is more closely married to graphic design and visual design.

The long version: Let's get started...

UX DESIGN: User Experience Design

According to our partner Designation, "User experience design (UX) is different from both UI and graphic design in that it focuses on the logic and structure behind the elements you actually see and interact with."

A day in the life of a UX Designer goes a little bit like this: you research the people who will use the product, by conducting case studies, surveys, and other methods of gathering information. Then, you test the methods and report on their outcomes. It's much like a science experiment, where you have your hypothesis, validation, and conclusion.

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Image via Designation.


Engaged Time

The measure of time a user spends with a page, application or website.


A new research method where a user's vision is tracked as they interact with a website or application.

KWHL Chart

One of the first steps to figuring out how to organize any research you conduct on your users. There are four categories- K: what you know; W: what you don’t know; H: how you’ll figure it out; and L: what you hope to learn.


A chart or list that shows where and how pages are organized on a website or app.


The skeletal outline of a website or application which shows the areas users interact with.

UI DESIGN: User Interface Design

According to Course Report, "UI Design requires putting UX research into logical components. For example, does it make more sense to use a slider or a button? Should the field be a dropdown or an empty textbox?"

User Interface takes all the juicy information from surveys gathered through UX, then turns around and puts the plan into action with design and creative elements.


Image via Visual Hierarchy.


Color Theory

The science and art of balancing color - figuring out what looks best and delivers the best response.


The process of going back and forth, refining a piece based on feedback and testing.


Drilling down and analyzing one particular action and it's results, such as the color a button turns after it's clicked.


A first or preliminary model of an application or website.


A showcase of your work. Usually presented in the form of a standalone website, or on a site like dribbble.

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Skills Fund partners with the best UX and UI Design bootcamps in the United States. Every school we partner with goes through a thorough due-diligence process to ensure they're only producing quality and skilled up graduates. It's all about a Return on Education: if you put your hard-earned money and time into a new education, you deserve an outcome where you'll be happy, make money, and jumpstart a new career.

Originally published June 26, 2017. Updated April 8, 2019.