Industrial Design and Innovation

UI, UX, and “coffee-shop testing”

Do you really know the difference between UI and UX design? If you’re even a little bit unsure then this article will clear it up for you while also highlighting the value of simply asking users about their experiences.

“A great interface can exist on a product that still offers a bad experience for users. Think about the ideal interface for the perfect toaster, but even with the elegant simplicity of the buttons and dial, and the super sexy brushed steel finish (I’ve thought about this before), your toast is always burned, because the lasers just doesn’t work.” Put simply; UI (user interface) is made up of the physical or digital parts of a product that users interact with when using it. UX (user experience) on the other hand encompasses the entire experience of using the product from start to finish, including, but not limited to, the UI.

According to the article, the easiest and perhaps most effective way to improve the way you design for experience is to use “coffee-shop testing”. In other words, finding a public place where potential users of your product are likely to be found and simply ask them about it. Show sketches or prototypes, let them play, and start a conversation. No amount of theorising can substitute for genuine user feedback.

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