UX and UI Design

Whenever I mention to a friend that I’m interested in entering the field of UX design, or “user experience” design, I receive an inevitable response of, “What’s that?”. It’s a question I’ve tried to answer myself while scouring the internet for an explanation. There seem to be a lot of variously worded definitions of UX design, but one statement I favor is:

“UX is the intangible design of a strategy that brings us to a solution.”

One word that differentiates the above definition from others is the word, “intangible.” I like the use of that word when describing UX design, because I think people are usually distracted when they hear the “design” part of the job description. They focus on the word, “design”, because they associate it with professions they’re more knowledgeable of; they think of graphic design, web design, interior design, etc. Basically, because of the word, “design,” people associate UX design with visual aesthetics and muddle “user experience” with “user interface.” I think the word, “intangible”, in the above definition makes it immediately clear that UX design is not simply graphics or visual design when it comes to the bottom line. Explained further, interface design is just one component that falls under the umbrella of aspects of UX design.


That’s why the other words I’d like to emphasize are “strategy” and “solution.” It’s important to realize that the purpose of UX design is to solve problems for users. This is a broader goal than that of UI design, which is to solely accomplish visual appeal. Simply stated by designer Elisabeth Hubert, “UI is not the solution.”

A product’s functionality, usability and emotional appeal all result in the experience of the user. The manipulation of these factors is ultimately what we can describe as UX design. So, when a friend next asks me about my new career field of interest, I can provide them with a short answer, but also enlighten them on what specifically UX design entails.

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