Chroma Experience

UX vs. UI vs. IA vs. IxD: 4 Confusing Digital Design Terms Explained

In the past, if you said the word "design," there was a good chance you were talking about graphic design. But these days, the digital world is getting more complex and there are many new job titles that cause confusion for people who don't work in design themselves or are new to the industries. Here's a brief overview of four different disciplines and roles in digital design.

UX Design - User Experience Design

Wikipedia states, "User Experience Design (UXD, UED, or XD) is the process of enhancing user satisfaction by improving the usability, accessibility, and enjoyment of the interaction between the user and the product. User experience design encompasses traditional human-computer interaction (HCI) design and extends it by considering all aspects of a product or service from the user's perspective."

UX designers are responsible for creating the concept and user logic. Communication is one of the most important skills of UX designers * inside. They conduct research and competitive analysis at the beginning of a process, as well as usability testing and A/B testing after the project is launched. UX designers primarily care about how the product feels to the user. They make sure it is easy and intuitive to use.

If a website or app is difficult to use, users * inside will quickly get frustrated and turn to something else. If they have a positive user experience, they are more likely to come back and recommend the product.

Results from UX design: e.g. personae, user flows, wireframes, prototypes, journey maps, sitemap, ...

UI Design - User Interface Design

Jesse James Garrett, author and founder of Adaptive Path, a user experience consulting firm, defines interface design as choosing the right interface elements - such as text, buttons, text boxes, color definition, etc. - for the task the user is trying to accomplish and arranging them on the screen in a way that is easy to understand and use. The goal is to make the user's interaction as efficient and simple as possible.
Interface elements include, but are not limited to:

Input controls: buttons, text boxes, check boxes, radio buttons, drop-down lists, lists, switches, ...
Navigation components: Breadcrumb, slider, search box, pagination, tags, ...
Information components: Tooltips, icons, progress bars, modal dialogs, message boxes, ...

IA - Information Architecture

IA is about the way a digital product is structured and how the content is organized. The goal is to help users find information as quickly as possible and complete tasks efficiently.
IA leads to the creation of hierarchies, categorizations, navigation, and metadata. When a content strategist begins to separate and categorize content, they are practicing IA. When a designer designs a top-level menu to help users understand where they are on a website, they are also practicing IA.

Some qualifications for IA:

  1. experience with documentation of complex content (websites, mobile apps, products, and system services).

  2. extremely detailed documentation; ability to identify inconsistencies, gaps, etc. in a complex structure

  3. analysis of available information and resources to evaluate optimal IA approach

  4. analytical and abstract thinking, creativity, curiosity and empathy.

IxD - Interaction Design

Definition of IxD: "Interaction design (IxD) defines the structure and behavior of interactive systems. Interaction designers strive to create meaningful relationships between people and the products and services they use, from computers to mobile devices to home appliances and beyond. Our practices evolve with the world."- from

IxD designers are the people responsible for the interactive elements and interactions of digital products.


In simplified and user-friendly terms, UX design is how the user feels about the application, UI design is what, where, and how elements look in the application, information architecture is how an application is organized, and interaction design is how the user and the application interact and respond to each other.
Last but not least, the boundaries between these different design roles are very fluid and constantly changing.