Terminology of a UX/UI designer: Part 3 - User Interface

In all industries and fields there are certain words or terms whose meanings seem obvious to the initiated. Unless clarified or explained these words sometimes risk confusing or being misunderstood by clients and other stakeholders. Ensuring we're on the same page doesn't only align our expectations, but also allow for more constructive criticism and feedback.

Estimated read time : 4 minutes

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Key takeaways

  • Basic understanding of terminology and concepts can help aligning expectations

The Terminology Series

This post is the third part in the series Terminology of a UX/UI designer and you can find the previous article here.

The series aims to explain the basics of key concepts and discuss the differences and in what situations each concept is most useful. Thus it might be useful if you're just starting out in the field of UX/UI or if you have a client role and want to get a better understanding of what to expect as part of the process and delivery.

User Interface

As this part is about the User Interface, we should probably start with that term in case anyone is uncertain of what it means. A user interface - abbreviated ‘UI’ - is where humans and computers interact. It’s a system’s visual representation in terms of allowing for information input, navigating the system and provide meaningful structure to the content. As designers, it’s our job to present the user interface in an aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly way.

Hi-fi Design

Hi-fi is short for high-fidelity, meaning a faithful representation of the final product. The design should be developed at such a level that we can confidently trust that this is what the final product will look like.

First Fold

The first fold refers to the area of a screen that is visible before the user performs any interaction such as scrolling on the site or app.

Accessibility & Inclusive Design

An accessible and inclusive experience means designing for people with all kinds of backgrounds and abilities.

Cognitive Load

If the user has to remember certain information between steps of an interaction, we put a cognitive load on them. This creates frustration and negatively impacts the experience. The website or app should remember information for the user, working as a tool to provide the right information at the time of need.

Design Debt

By not employing appropriate research and analysis before designing, we increase the risk of design debt. Taking shortcuts in the design process may save time in the short term, but will in the long term lead to either a worse user experience or extra work.

Design Patterns

Outside the box thinking is a great quality, but many times a lot of research has already been done for common challenges and we all know what is said about reinventing the wheel. Certain patterns are established across devices, operative systems and even in everyday life. Since users often recognize these patterns and thus understand how the interaction works, we can many times reuse these common and repeatable patterns.


To properly guide the user we need to match the system action and the user intent. By providing descriptive and adequate texts we can align the user expectations with what the system actually will perform.


Mockups are realistic representations of how the design will finally look when applied anywhere the user would see and use it, such as phones, desktops, tablets, bus station screens, commercials and wherever relevant for the product. This is to give the most accurate sense of how it will look before finalizing the product, but bear in mind it is static and can’t be interacted with.

Interested in more UX/UI terminology?

In case you missed our previous articles in this series, you can learn more about the UX/UI deliverables or about the UX process.

Need any help or want to discuss UX/UI with us?

If you're interested to hear more about us, want to work with us or just want to have a conversation about UX/UI or any of our other fields, feel free to reach out to me or my colleagues.