Explaining CX, UX, and UI to my father



They say that there is a first time for everything. Now you must have heard industry experts, UX, and UI professionals discuss and break down the definitions of CX, UX, and UI. But the shocker came when I had to explain it to a complete outsider – MY DAD. First time with first-timers, am I right?

So I said to him, Customer Experience (CX), User Experience (UX), and User Interface (UI) are used interchangeably. While on the basis of technical terminology it is easy to get confused. Truth be told, UX, UI and CX, in reality, are intrinsically linked and dependent on one another.

But obviously, he didn’t understand anything. And, with no official definitions available on Google as well, I then decided to tackle the fields in the most basic manner.


So let’s dive into it! A great product or application experience starts with UX followed by UI. Both are essential for the product’s success.

User Experience (UX) is the overall experience of the end-user while using a product or application. The focus of UX is to enhance user satisfaction in terms of accessibility, usability, and efficiency of the product or application. 

To explain it better, I used the example of an ATM machine. This reminded me of the time I had to explain to him how to use an ATM (gave me tremors)! To begin with, we use the ATM machine to perform a transaction. We enter the pin, verify your identity, and successfully perform the transaction. Then we receive a notification about the transaction through mail or SMS. The ability to be able to use the machine to perform a transaction without any difficulty and satisfactorily is the user experience of that service. So in simple terms User Experience tells us the whole experience of a product or application by a user.


User Interface (UI) refers to the optimization of a product’s interface – look and function. 

In terms of the same ATM example, the process of visually guiding the user through the product’s interface of interactive elements like the slot you use to insert the card, buttons for entering the digits and filling fields like PIN and the amount, account as multiple interfaces used in the entire journey of user experience to successfully complete the transaction. These multiple interactions with the system contribute to the overall user experience of the ATM machine.

But then he surprised me with the question – “What is the interface? ”. I explained, Interface (in Google’s words) is a device or program enabling a user to communicate with a system. So when I said, focusing on the effective productivity and interactivity of the product or application, it’s the user’s interactive part of the whole customer experience it made more sense to him. 


This definition totally confused him again. So I went back at it with the ATM example. Customer Experience (CX) encompasses all interactions across all touchpoints of a customer’s journey and relationship with that particular brand or company. Most user experiences will include multiple user interfaces that look at the end-user of a product or application, customer experience looks at the overall perception of the customer of the brand or company the product belongs to. 

While User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) is the usability of the ATM machine, Customer Experience starts the moment we enter the ATM store. And, naturally, if the numbers are to believed, CX is one of THE most important factors contributing to the overall customer journey.

The placement of the machine, branding of the bank, and even the technology used in the machine for transactions; are the interaction points carefully mapped to aid and improve the experience as a whole; creating the customer journey. 

In layman terms for people like my father, while User Experience focuses solely on the user’s satisfaction with the product or application (duh), Customer Experience focuses on the entire journey of the customer with the brand/company.

To summarize all the terminologies and differences, this is the visual I built which somehow untangled his confusion and enlightened him. (Well at least I tried) If we create something that is efficient and usable but looks bad, then we have good UX and poor UI. Whereas, if we create something that looks good but complex to use, we have good UI and poor UX. The combined effect of all touchpoints of UX and UI across all channels will give us great CX.

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