Experience is not just an experience. Interface – not just a screen

Experience is not just an experience. Interface – not just a screen

The acronyms UX and UI are just tormenting. They are used as they want and where they want: from modest titles in job vacancies to lectures at large venues. And still, few people understand what they are. They are confused, simplified or provided by others.

My name is Ilya Shapeev, I am currently a project manager on web projects at the design studio CEH, and in the past – a UX designer. In the article, I will talk about how I tried to understand the definitions of UX, UI, why they are underestimated and why it is important to understand the essence of your specialty.


When I worked for the company as an N-designer, I was responsible for internal product design and was called the “juixer”. At the same time, other guys who worked on the sites and services of our clients were called UI designers. But everything was settled on UX/UI. UX was also called the prototyping stage, and the design concept stage was called UI. In general, it was enough to get confused in his specialty.

I decided to conduct a small survey among designers with different experience in the profession and received the following responses:

UX is

UI is it


Designer experience


as an arranged product. Thinking process.

what the interface looks like. How to interact with it.

≈ 7 years


Study. Searching for user behavior to fulfill some purpose.

not just a visual concept. But also the convenience of interaction with the product. To be intuitive.

Difficult to answer.

≈ 5.5 years


interaction logic. How convenient to use. User research, castdev, cjm and analytics of user behavior.

visual Components, design system

≈ 5.5 years


user experience. logic. How the user and their journey interact.

visual Style, colors, typography, images, illustrations.

> 5 years


the essence of the interface.



≈ 5 years


convenience. How to manage the user’s attention. Intuitive, transparent processes and texts.

beauty. Impression. It is once a pleasure to use. Get creative if you have to.

≈ 3 years


ease of use.

visual component.

≈ 2.5 years


user interaction with the product, user experience. So that the user does not have to think about how to use it.

good. Aesthetics. Or just the interface itself.

≈ 2 years


a step that helps save time with research. Structuring of hypotheses.

interface drawing. Implementation of UX hypotheses. The UI can be viewed – the practical part is visible.

1.5-2 years


how the user will interact with the interface. How the site/app will move. A UX designer shows where elements are placed.

how beautifully the designer will make any visual part.

1-1.5 years

Plus or minus the same theses are tracked on the Internet for “UX and UI” requests:

  • UX and UI are visually divided into two groups that slightly overlap;

  • UX is depicted in the form of a prototype, and UI – in design [цвета, шрифты, графика];

  • UX is about usability;

  • research, analysis and testing are also attributed to UX.

The mass of information available on the Internet correlates with our conclusions. That’s okay: we are what we read.

UX. Difficulties of translation

Surveys, personal experiences, and browser front pages are the top layer of UX and UI information. It contains phrases taken out of context, personal interpretation and articles in the yellow press. However, later we will be able to compare and draw conclusions.

Now I propose to get to know our heroes better, to turn to dictionaries and translators, to get to the bottom of the matter [открывайте форточки].

Experience is translated as experience. But the Russian word “experience” and the English “experience” have one important difference.

Dictionary cambridge:

Dictionary Ozhegov:

In the English word “experience” there is a story about feelings, sensations, experiences (feel). That is, how the user interacts with the product, and what he feels in his. We will also take the official definition of ISO (International Organization for Standardization). [статья]

Here, in the definition, “human perception and response” [A person’s perceptions and responses] even in the first place.

And I also found a quote from the father of UX, Don Norman. Where he highlights the “perception” of the service. And even deeper: perception of the world, life. I didn’t think we would go this far. But when father said…

🎤 [Пользовательский опыт] used by people to say “I’m a user experience designer, I design websites” or “I design apps.” […] and they think that the user experience is a simple device, or a website, or an app, or who knows what. No! That’s all it’s how you perceive the world, it’s how you perceive your life, it’s how you perceive service. Or yes, an application or a computer system. But this is a system that has everything.

– Don Norman


Yes, that is, it is important to note the difference in the depth of these words: practical knowledge and skills in “experience” and, as it were, a whole story with feelings, experiences and reflection in “experience”. That’s why it’s so important to put yourself in the user’s place, understand the context of interaction, the surrounding environment, show empathy, make customer portraits, correctly formulate values, conduct surveys, tests and use other tools so that the user gets his own cool story.

UI. Borrowing problems

Now let’s deal with the UI. The word Interface does not exist at all in the Russian language. And the definition of this word looks like going back to the days of computers.

In English [cambridge]:

The difference is that in the Russian language there is not even another option, except for the screen or dashboard of electronic equipment. The sense that the interface is everything around has been lost. “A situation, way, or place where two things come together and affect each other.” We use a stool, a glass, a spoon… The interface of these objects hints at how to use it.

There is even such an interface meaning as “communication” [cambridge]. That is, a physical object is not mandatory. Let’s assume that we came to the lecture. The lecture itself is the interface. And here, too, you can apply the same techniques as in web design: think through, make a frame, decorate with text, provide stylistic language, emotional coloring, place accents, and more.

Another point: often under UI they mean design, meaning visual, aesthetics. Here I will suggest that the word “design” was also simplified when it entered the Russian language. The survey was not conducted. But there was a persistent feeling that for all those outside the creative profession, design is not a complex process of searching for meanings, forms and structures, but rather a result of average quality. Petrovych can do this himself one day. And, to put it mildly, he is in awe, why do they charge such money for “some kind of design”.

Although even in the Russian interpretation, the concept of “design” is much broader. [Словарь Ожегова]

Summary by concepts

It turns out that the language barrier significantly reduces the meaning of words. Also, the trend towards fashionable concepts was definitely indicated. They used to say “designer”, now – “ux/ui”. And, in order not to explain 3 hours, we say: “Make convenient prototypes and beautiful designs.”

Let’s analyze the table with the answers and draw conclusions:

  1. The first thing I would like to note: the concepts of “experience” and “interface” are trying to be moved to another plane – to give them the definition of stages [процессов] and divide [UX — этап исследования, прототипирования и пр., UI — этап оформления, дизайна и т. д].

Here are the abstracts from the board: the process of thinking, research, prototyping, finding user behavior to fulfill the goal, design, placement of accents [где и как расположить элементы, как управлять вниманием пользователя].

This is not UX or UI. It’s just tools to create UX and UI. And at the same time, they are equally valid for both UX and UI.

  1. Why the same? Because UX is not only about practical interaction, not only about convenience and user journey. This is visual, style, color, beauty, etc. UX is everything that affects the feelings and sensations of the user. These are the parameters that cause emotions in the user from the first glance and until the aftertaste: when the interaction ended and the reflection began.

  2. UI is not only stylish, bright, with beautiful fonts, colors and other features related to design. The interface is both logical and convenient and intuitive. Phrases written in the UX column are also properties of the user interface [User Interface].

Now I will formulate my answers to the question, what is UI, UX, what is the difference:

UX – [это не прототипирование и исследования дизайнером] these are the emotions and experiences of the user as a reaction to interaction with the interface. Experience begins with the first sight, sound, breath and other sensory receptors, all the way to the grumbling in the stomach. And ends with memories in bed before going to sleep a day, a month, 10 years after the interaction.

UI – [это не только красота интерфейса] it is the entity that the user interacts with. The essence will be at least a person, at least an inanimate object, a sound, a fart and anything, if you interact with it.

Can UX and UI do without each other?

A UI can be alone if no one interacts with it. As soon as the user sees this interface, experience appears.

UX cannot be one. Experience – the process of object interaction [interface] and the subject [пользователь].

If we return to requests on the Internet, we often see such an image [слева]. But after studying the definition, it is safe to say that the picture on the right better represents the ux/ui interaction.

Does it all matter?

Yes, of course not. It’s all shortcuts and suffocation.

I think those who do design anyway, honestly caring about the user experience, have simply made sure that they are doing everything right. Which is a lot in their area of ​​responsibility. That their work does not end with the concept. If a photographer has taken a photo, they talk about it, write TK, monitor, communicate, try to achieve a result together. It is the same with the text: if there is a lot of it, if it is not enough, if it is not the right presentation, the wrong meaning, they make a TK to the writers, check whether they are looking for the right composition together. The page takes a long time to load – the thresholds of developers and managers are blocked. Doing everything in their power for the required UX.

Design has become an important part of the technology industry. Many companies are becoming design-centric. Why? Because design is a tool to impress the user. This is the touch point. The user gains experience from the company interfaces.

And a corporate site is a concentration of company meanings. Reflecting values, mission and vision. What clients come to her for to spend their millions. That is why sometimes it is so difficult to extract requirements from clients: they have only now thought about who they are. Then there is a completely different topic… I will stop, I guess.

Main: designers rule the world! Dare!

And those who think in the style of “I am not me and my ass is not mine” will not read to the middle and no one will convince them.

I write even more about design, work in the studio and becoming a product in your Telegram channel — subscribe, let’s grow together)

Personal conclusions

  1. Language affects us. More precisely, his meanings. For example, in the English language there is no more respectful or less respectful form of address than in the Russian language you and you. And it definitely leaves an impression on behavior. Therefore, it is important to understand what meanings we put into words.

  2. At some point, I stopped thinking in terms of UX and UI. I found it easier to reason in terms of Don Norman’s levels of design [статья]:

    1. Instinctive – the first reaction to the interface.

    2. Behavioral – reaction after the start of interaction with the interface.

    3. Reflective analysis after familiarization with the interface, reflections, associations, value.

It’s the same, but in profile. It’s easier. There are no complicated definitions and subtleties.

  1. Always look for original sources. Get to the bottom of it.

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