UX terms and what is what

In this podcast episode, we wanted to clarify the most important terms we use when we talk about UX design and product development.

The whole video here

Terms we use regularly

In our previous podcasts and of course on our blog, we often use technical terms from the product development and UX area. 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 for us as a thought support, 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 bring them together in a 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 leads to three important terms: user experience, user experience design, and experience design. User experience is an umbrella term for how 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 shows 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 specific products/services.

UX and UI

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


HMI is the UI of a machine (Human-Mashine-Inteaction). You should really be careful here, because 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 being 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 sector, this term has prevailed and persisted to this day. Today, it usually describes the study of how people can most efficiently handle machines or other products.

Human/User-Centered Design

The term user-centered design was coined in the 60s/70s. Although the term is considered absolutely contemporary today, it is somewhat older. Its further development, human-centered 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-centered 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 solution approaches.

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 to software development. You work iteratively, you get feedback frequently, and both lean UX and agile software development can run very well in parallel, as is the case with us.

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