What is the Difference Between UI and UX?

April 26, 2012

In the design world today, the terms “UI” (User Interface) and “UX” (User Experience) are being used more than ever. It is quite common for people to use the acronyms UI and UX as synonyms. In product development, it is extremely important to understand the differences between the two.

UI refers to the actual elements that interact with the user—the physical and technical components of input and output. It is a tangible object that users can touch. The UI helps us to interact with the system, but it does not tell us how a user reacts to it.

In contrast, the UX contains a much larger picture than UI. As the name states, it is an experience, and one that can create entirely different feelings for two individuals. While the UI is a tangible object, the UX is the way a person feels using a product or service and can be very subjective in nature. While we can design user interfaces, we cannot design the user experience. We can only hope that the user interface creates the experience we intended.

We came across a photo, created by designer Ed Lea, that helps to visualize the difference between the two and how they relate to product design. It’s a very clever way of explaining it in very simple terms, using something we can all enjoy—cereal!

Photo from Ed Lea's portfolio on

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