So we got used to seeing this acronym UI/UX. For anyone who is related to the world of design, marketing, and especially the development of websites and mobile applications, this acronym became common.
However, as can be seen if you investigate a bit (you can see it even on this site, in the article UX is not UI), this acronym not only does not exist, but it does not make any sense.
UI, or User Interface, is just one of the many branches that exist in UX or User Experience. And there are more than 100 different branches!
Saying UI / UX is the equivalent of saying surgery / medicine or calculation / engineering. It is to mention a branch (and sometimes just a tool) of a science.
But also, if we talk about UI, we talk about UX by definition. There is no UI without UX (although there is UX without UI).
What does UI/UX mean (supposedly)?
As we said above, the term UI / UX does not exist nor does it make any sense. There is no bibliography, academic papers or serious UX agencies that use it. It just doesn’t exist.
However, the number of people using the wrong term far outweighs the number of people using the correct term(s) to refer to whatever they mean when they say UI/UX.
And just in case you’re wondering: there’s not UX/UI either.
How do you explain the existence of a UI/UX agency or UI/UX designer?
Well, the term somehow became popular with small web design agencies, students, and hobbyists or amateurs. If you ask most of them: “do you do UI?” most likely they will answer “no, I do UI / UX”.
Among all those I’ve asked, they feel that adding UX to UI gives them more category.
Which leaves us in a strange situation: if we go to a person who knows about the subject, he or she will consider that we do not know what we are talking about.
On the other hand, suppose we are a “UI/UX agency” and we say to the client (who also doesn’t know about it) “we do UI / UX“. It would be the same to say that “we do IUDFIHSDFUIG“, because in any case the client does not know what we are talking about.
And to be honest, to all the “UI/UX designers” we asked, none of them could explain what the term means. But when trying to explain it from their work, we noticed that most use UI / UX as a synonym for mobile design, and a smaller part of these designers use this acronym to refer to website design.
So UI / UX is website design or mobile app design?
Again, neither of them. As we already said, the acronym does not make any sense.
To understand it better: web design is the design that is applied to a page that is going to be seen on the web.
The same can be said about the design of mobile apps: it is a design that will be used in a mobile application.
But UI Design or UID is the design of an interface based on aesthetic and scientific principles. In other words: it is not that we use any element that we want, nor that any element is used anywhere we want.
Quite the opposite. User Interface Design is a discipline that is based on a deep theoretical framework, which is tested with users and adjusted according to the results obtained. In other words: what is known as data driven design.
And we come to UX: UX is an experience. Or rather: the measurement of a subjective experience.
We are not talking about something mystical, it is the very definition of user experience!
User experience (UX or UE) is about how a user interacts with, and experiences, a particular product, system or service. It includes a person’s perceptions of utility, ease of use, and efficiency. User experience is an important concern to many companies when creating products, as negative user experience may decay profitability. User experience is subjective.from Wikipedia
In other words: if there is no data measurement with real users, we cannot even start talking about UX.
What does this mean? Let’s see the following image:
As we can see on this Dribbble page, we have some beautiful designs, there is really nothing to object at first glance. However, as long as these designs have not been tested with users, we will not have a measurement of the experience, therefore no UX (even though some of these designs might have been built using UX principles).
Furthermore, some of the designs are literally impossible to implement or are unusable (which, like UI, is also part of the UX disciplines: interface development, accessibility and usability).
So what is UI / UX?
Well, here we can already give a formula for those who are afraid to say that they make UI and add UX to it: among all the UX disciplines, there is one that encompasses UI directly but is much broader and therefore important: HCI , short for Human Computer Interaction.
HCI is the closest thing to what many speak when they think they are talking about what they call UX/UI, and it is precisely the discipline that studies the interaction of humans with computers through … user interfaces!
Note: HCI is the “state of the art” as of this writing, but our CEO Fabio Devin has developed the concept of XCI within the Quantum UX paradigm, where the X in XCI is any biological, mechanical, or cybernetic entity.
How did the term UI / UX originate? A theory about the origin of UI/UX
Here comes the interesting part: how did a misnomer come about and how did it end up getting popular?
The reality is that we do not know for sure. But speaking with colleagues, and arguing among our team members, we believe that there is a fairly plausible theory.
UX is the realm of acronyms. There are probably very few sciences or disciplines that have that many acronyms. And this is part of the history of UX from the beginning.
Many times when we work on a project, we ourselves send notes, memos, or updates that include these acronyms. For example: “UI development starts tomorrow” or “We need to revisit the ideas on CX strategy” or “Pass me the book on HCI” or “Let’s talk to the IT department.”
In other words, we naturalized that way of speaking, which is very typical of the technological field in which we develop our work.
So it is possible that at the beginning of the “UX fever” (when HCI-based UX became popular, around 2008-10), project managers or stakeholders said things like “we must work on UI” and then “we must develop the UX” , which was simplified as “we must work the UI and UX“, simplifying as “we must work the UI / UX”.
We do not know if this is the reason, but it is a theory as valid as any other. And if we think about it, it makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? I mean: why else would a non-existent and illogical term have been created other than by accident?
So now you know that UI/UX doesn’t exist, and why you shouldn’t use that term. You can call yourself a UI designer, or a UX designer, or a UX researcher, just don’t call yourself a UI/UX designer or UI/UX agency, you’ll be doing a disfavor to yourself.
If you want to shock your clients and friends with a more sophisticated term, just use the proper one: HCI
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