Have you heard people throw around the terms UI and UX and wondered what they were going on about? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! After reading this article, you’ll have a better handle on these terms and how they relate to one another.
What do the terms UX and UI mean?
The acronym UX stands for User (e)Xperience and refers to the way a product or process feels for the person using it (aka the user). This includes how easy it was to use, how intuitive it felt, how well steps flowed into one another, whether the user enjoyed using it and if they found it useful.
A UI, or User Interface, is what allows users (or learners) to communicate or interact with a product, such as a computer, software application, website, or, in this case, an e-learning course. In a digital landscape, it typically includes things like buttons, menus, and page layouts.
In sum, the UX is how users feel about their experience with the product, which is determined in part by the UI.
What’s the difference between UX and UI design?
While UI and UX design are closely related, each discipline has its own distinct purpose and focus.
UX design is the process of dreaming up an experience that mirrors user needs and expectations. It’s about organizing and structuring the content and features of your product so people can easily find and use them.
UI design uses the principles of graphic design and typography to bring the UX design to life. This includes not only color and font choice, but also button placement and page layout. UI design is what makes the product both visually attractive and intuitive.
Still confused? Let’s take Netflix, for example. When you visit Netflix, what are the main things you typically do? You pick up watching a show or movie where you left off, search for something new to watch by keyword or by genre, add shows to your list so you can watch them later, etc.
The UX designer is the one who decided what features people would need or want when they visited Netflix and that they should all be easily accessible from the homepage.
The UX designer then communicated that information to the UI designer, who decided where the shows you’re currently watching should appear when you log into your account and that there should be a play icon on top of the thumbnail image, so users would know to click to continue watching. They also decide which icons to use for the search and menu buttons, where to place those icons, and what the search and menu pages would look like when opened.
How do UX and UI design apply to e-learning?
Most e-learning designers already do UX and UI design—without even realizing it. For example, when you design the course structure or decide to include additional resources, you’re doing the work of a UX designer. And when you move on to designing slide layouts and deciding how to give learners access to those resources, you’re doing the work of a UI designer.
So if, as e-learning designers, we’re already doing the work of UX and UI designers, doesn’t it seem important that we learn some best practices to make sure we’re doing it right? I think so. If you agree, check out these in-depth articles to learn some important UX and UI principles that will help you create better e-learning courses:
- How to Design a Better Learner Experience
- User Interface Design: 3 Things E-Learning Designers Need to Know