User Interface (UI) Design User Experience (UX) topic overview/definition

User Interface (UI) Design: Concept Definition

User interface (UI) design is the design of user interfaces for software or machines, such as the look of a mobile app, with a focus on ease of use and pleasurability for the user. UI design usually refers to the design of graphical user interfaces—but can also refer to others, such as natural and voice user interfaces.

Since software is intangible, the only way a user can control or interact with it is through a designed user interface. A well-designed user interface creates a user experience that the designer intended and/or a user experience that the user appreciates.

Many user interfaces are designed with a focus on usability and efficiency. Users should be able to achieve their goals as efficiently as possible, without focusing too much on the user interface itself. In that sense, a well-designed user interface becomes effectively invisible to those using it. In other words, they interact directly with the ‘reality’ the design portrays without reckoning on the point that, for example, thumbing button icons through the glass screens of their handheld devices is responsible for producing changes in what they see. However, usability and efficiency might not be the only measure of a well-designed user interface; a user interface might be designed to create a fun and pleasurable experience for users instead (e.g., in games).

At the other end of the spectrum, designers can—unethically—deliberately design user interfaces that are confusing—in order to trick users into purchasing or signing up for things they might not be interested in. These user interfaces are known as dark patterns. Examples of dark patterns include add-ons that are included by default (e.g., additional luggage allowance when booking air tickets), and intentionally complicated processes meant to deter users (e.g., long and confusing pages to unsubscribe from email newsletters).

For your convenience, we’ve collected all UX literature that deals with User Interface (UI) Design. Here’s the full list: