UX terms and what is what


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Terms we use regularly

In our previous podcasts and of course, on our blog, we often use technical terms from product development and the UX field. We always notice that not every product developer understands the terms or uses them in the same way as we do! So, in order to better understand our content and actually also to help us think, we want to explain the most important and most common terms. But from our point of view, this is not quite enough. The important thing is to distinguish the terms from each other and to put them into context. Of course, we also want to briefly show which concepts are behind the terms and when we use which concept.

UX area


In case these abbreviations seem Spanish to you: U stands for User, X stands Experience and the D stands for Design. This results in three important terms: user experience, user experience design and experience design. User experience is an umbrella term for how the user experience is influenced by design. User Experience Design = the process of designing a user experience. Experience design is independent of products and there are no specific users. The term is often used for art, installations, trade fairs and other environments.


CX stands for customer experience. If the user is also a customer, this term is used. The customer experience describes the entire experience of customers with a company (advertising, website, employees...). This is primarily about the brand experience and branding and less about the experience with concrete products/services. 

UX and UI

Our main focus is on UX. User research is very important for a good user experience. This is an essential part of UX design. UI stands for the user interface. And UI design stands for design. This means that UI focuses on visual design, while UX is about processes and methods of experience design. For us, this separation is immensely important. And to be honest, even though the two terms are so often contrasted, we see it very often that UX and UI are equated and user research simply gets short shrift.


HMI is the UI of a machine (Human-Machine-Interaction). Care should be taken here, as HMI is also often used as a term for the entire hardware of the interface (i.e. the operator panel9). But one can remember HMI = UI of a machine.

Methods and processes


Ergonomics is historically the first term used to describe the interaction between a human and a machine and originated in World War II when attempts were made to make military aircraft easy to use. And in some areas, such as the automotive industry, furniture or even machinery, this term has prevailed and persisted to this day. Today, it usually describes the study of how people can deal most efficiently with machines or other products.

Human/User-Centered Design

The term User-Centered Design was already coined in the 60s/70s. Although the term is considered absolutely contemporary today, it is somewhat older. The further development of this term, human-centred design, i.e. the even more far-reaching approach: what does the product do for people and their environment, also dates back to the 1980s. Today, both terms refer to a general way of looking at and thinking about product development.

Design Thinking

Human/User-Centered Design is often mentioned in connection with Design Thinking. Design thinking is a very concrete process for developing human/user-centred products. The focus is on empathy for users and people. Design Thinking is a process that serves to explore the problem space. It precedes a product development phase. In Design Thinking, one becomes aware of the problem users have and tries to brainstorm initial approaches to a solution.

Lean UX

Lean UX often comes after the Design Thinking phase. It is also a concrete process but goes a bit further in product development than Design Thinking.

Agile software development

Lean UX goes back a bit to the agile approaches of software development. You work iteratively, you often ask for feedback and both Lean UX and agile software development can run very well in parallel, as is the case with us. You can hear more background information in the current podcast episode of Software for People!

Published by Lisa on 2021-06-11

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