Our Design Glosssary: 45 UX and UI Terms You Need to Know

Kosta Tiodorovic
January 20, 2023
12-minute read

A design glossary gives a whole different vision of a design. In essence, becoming familiar with UX/UI terminology will open every door along the way.

Since the UX design process requires careful planning and thoughtful discussions, designers should know different design terms, methods, and tactics to deploy the best design solutions. Thus, design words are like blood flowing through the veins of every designer.

Whether you’re an in-house designer, a UI/UX design student, or a design enthusiast who plans to run a design agency, this article will explain 45 UX and UI terms you need to know to earn a competitive advantage during all design stages. 

UX glossary and other UI terms are finally on your way!

1. A/B Testing

A/B testing is one of the popular terms to use when describing mobile apps. It is a method also called split testing. It showcases two versions of a product to users to compare them and understand which one performs better. With this tool, you can confirm hypotheses for potential improvements. You can also determine what works better for your audience based on statistical performance analysis.

testing between product A and product B

2. Affinity map

Affinity mapping is a productive user research method that is well suited to teamwork. In simple words, designers write down their thoughts and engage with sticky notes. This UX method is a great way to immerse designers and stakeholders in user research by letting them organize design ideas through sticky notes.

sticky notes with design ideas posted on the wall
Credit image: Canva

3. Accessibility

UX accessibility is a method that examines a user's accessibility issues. This is particularly essential in terms of users with disabilities. So, designers have to provide the easiest access to the design products/services. They need to be aware of potential accessibility issues, such as seizures, auditory, motor/mobility and color blindness. In the end, many users—whatever their abilities—need to understand and use the design product/service with ease. 

4. API

An application programming interface (API) enables two programs to communicate. Using an API, a developer can request services from an operating system (OS) or other application, and expose data in different contexts and channels.

5. Agile

Another UX design term which combines Agile software development with UX principles. Agile software teams should have at least one UX specialist as well as a culture that recognizes and understands the value of UX. The Agile UX method is helpful because it ensures that useful design products are developed at all stages. Since it is not feasible to get feedback from the end-users at all times, agile can help software teams to address any possible issue quickly. Therefore, they avoid the risks of getting negative reactions/feedbacks at the moment when the product hits the market.

5. Breadcrumbs

Navigation elements such as breadcrumbs tell users where they are on a website. Users can use these elements to navigate between website pages. Usually, they are placed near the top of the page (in most cases, right below the browser's address bar).

clear user guide how to navigate web pages
Credit image: Canva

7. Back-end(development)

Back-end development refers to developers' work on server-side software, which is hidden from our eyes. Back-end developers focus on maintaining tools to ensure high website performance. They use code and take care of databases, application programming interface (APIs), architecture, and servers.

8. Card Sorting

A UX research technique that helps designers to evaluate the information architecture of the product. Designers use card sorting to categorize and understand information. This technique  creates a foundation for robust information architecture (IA), and strong IA allows for the creation of a navigation system that matches users’ expectations.

9. Competitive audit

A competitive audit is a research method that involves tracking, analyzing, and comparing competitors’ strategies. This method encourages designers to make better decisions and determine what strategies could work for better brand visibility and product/service enhancement. By using a competitive audit process, UX designer scan dig deep into the design industry trends and stay on top of the competitive market.

10. Customer Journey Map

 A journey map in UX design represents a visual depiction of the steps customers take while using a product or service. The map is like a graph showing the client's interaction with the product. It helps identify gaps or pain points in the customer's experience. It also encourages designers to establish a UX flow that will put more value on customers overall experience with a design product.

the map shows the client's interaction with the product.
Credit image: Canva

11. Conversion Rate

Conversion rate measures how many users take the desired action. It demonstrates how well your design convinces people to take action.

12. CTA

A call to action (CTA) is a powerful message transmitted usually through a graphic element that encourages people to make a purchase decision or action.In a CTA message, you may find words such as join now, log in, subscribe, see, download, get, etc. Typically, a CTA appears as a button with strong visual effects.

CTA shows clear indication for user where to click
Credit image: Canva

13. Color Wheel

The color wheel is a circle that shows the close relationships between primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. Usually, colors are red, yellow, and blue primaries arranged at three likewise spaced points around their color wheel.

wheel with all possible colors used for design
Credit image: Canva

13. Design Thinking

Design thinking is an insightful process of generating and implementing design ideas through 5 stages.

  1. Stage 1: Empathize—Gain an empathetic understanding of users' needs
  2. Stage 2: Define—Synthesize your findings from the previous phase
  3. Stage 3: Ideate—Generate ideas from the previous two phases and identify innovative solutions
  4. Stage 4: Prototype—Identify solutions for each possible issue
  5. Stage 5: Test—Test your solutions from the prototypes to see if there are more possible issues
five steps for steps for successful design
Credit image: Canva

15. End Users

UX designers have end users they will be designing for. In simple terms, end users are people who interact with a design. However, end users are not necessarily customers because they don’t need to purchase a product/service. They could be employees, individuals or entrepreneurs who simply use the product.

16. Experience Architecture (EA)

Experience architecture combines interaction design, information architecture (IA), and experience design (XD) to illustrate the user's journey. It provides a comprehensive view of the users' navigation and helps designers to develop a functional design structure.

17. Eye Tracking

An interesting UX method that tracks users’ eye movements while interacting with a design. It allows designers to understand where exactly users are looking, whether it’s a website, app, or other visual data. Eye tracking is excellent for optimizing a design and accentuating visual elements most attractive to the human eye.

18. Flat Design

Flat design is a minimalist style of user interface design that uses two-dimensional elements. It is characterized by vibrant colors. In 2002, Microsoft's Windows Media Center introduced flat design elements (which are now essential part of a graphic design vocabulary).

19.  Front-end(development)

The objective of front-end development is to ensure that when the users open up the site, they see the information in a format that is readable. Therefore, a front-end developer creates a visual, easy-to-read interface for an application or site.

20. Framework

A design framework provides a systematic approach on which software developers can create platform-specific programs. It simplifies the development process.

21. Fidelity

Designers use the word "fidelity" when they refer to the design details and level of functionality. There is a difference between low, mid and high-level of fidelity. While low fidelity designs look similar to the final design, high fidelity designs are as close to the final design as possible.

22. Focus Group

A focus group in user experience research aims to gather the opinions of a carefully selected group of participants (between 5 and 10). The answers are recorded, analyzed and then reported to enhance further product development and decision-making. With focus groups, you can get quick user insights over a short period of time. This method is typically used during early UX research phase, but it is also useful after the product has been launched.

three users sharing idea in focus group questioning
Credit image: Canva

23. Grid

As a popular graphic design term, grid refers to a system of vertical and horizontal lines that is a base for page layout and design. It provides flexibility for organizing print or screen content, such as webpage, applications, and other user interfaces.

24. Heat Maps

Heat maps represent color-based areas that showcase users’ interest or focus points. They help you understand where users click on the website page, how far they scroll, what buttons they look or ignore.  

different color showing user interest on the website
Credit image: Canva

25. Iterative Design

Iterative design is a design strategy that takes many iterations to move towards a design that suits users in the best possible way. The steps involved in this design method are prototyping, planning, implementing, testing, empathizing and then repeating the process. So, by studying the results of several iteration tests, designers can prepare the changes for the final design more efficiently.

trial and error design till product is right
Credit image: Canva

26. Information Architecture

Information architecture (IA) in UX design refers to the visual representation of the product's hierarchy and infrastructure. It includes site hierarchies, application functions, web content, label schemes, and user behavior. The main aim of information architecture is to make the product's functionality easy to understand. In a standard flowchart, shapes correspond to specific requirements. For example, rectangles represent processes, diamonds represent decision points, etc.

users trying to understand how website functions
Credit image: Canva

27. Iconic Font

Iconic font is a font that contains typefaces (symbols) rather than letters. Each character is scalable like type and can be modified using CSS.

28. KPIs (Key performance indicators)

An indicator of how well a (design) company is meeting its overall business goals. Team members are also able to see where they are with specific tasks and achievements.

humbers showing user how well taks are done
Credit image: Canva

29.  Mood board

Mood Board is composed of the visual components that help to define the style of a product through images, text, colors, and other branding elements. It represents an overview of the style of a project, design, or brand, and it can be seen in one place.

several examples who a product could look like in different colors
Credit image: Canva

30. Mockup

A mockup shows your design on one or more of the client’s products, like t-shirts, labels, business cards, etc. It’s an example of a first look of the design. For instance, if you’re designing a bag or a t-shirt, sketch it out on an actual human figure or item to get a better feeling of a final design.

shirt and a bag with applied branding
Credit image: Canva

31. Minimap

 A mind map is a diagram that visually represents a sequence of thoughts. It’s hierarchical and shows the relationships among the pieces of a single concept associated with images and words.

32. MVP

A minimum viable product (MVP) stands for a product with a basic set of features that is launched before the final version of a product. The purpose of MVP is to attract the consumers and collect their valuable feedback in order to improve the functions of the product for the final (launch) phase.

33. Persona

A designer creates personas based on user data in order to understand more about different user types, their perspectives, user characteristics, and goals. Creating these personas will help designers dig deep into the user's needs and develop a more effective design.

34. Pain Points

Pain points are the problems users face while navigating through an app, for example. Once designers identify these pain points, they can create a good user flow and, as a result, user-friendly design.

35. Prototype

A prototype is a model in an early stage of a proposed product solution used to test and improve the design concept. Based on prototypes, a UI/UX designer can identify user pain points and make appropriate adjustments in the design development.

36.  QA (Quality Assurance)

The team member should ensure that the product functionality is working as planned. As a design term, QA also refers to testing a product and reporting to developers or UI/UX designers what needs to be changed. 

37. Responsive Web Design (RWD)

Responsive web design addresses the variety of device sizes to fit any screen, whether a phone, tablet, web page or other. It makes your page look good on all devices while improving your SEO.

website adapts to the size of user screen
Credit image: Canva

38. SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats)

The SWOT method aims to facilitate a fact-based overview regarding the core strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of an individual or a company/ organization. The main goal is to develop a strategic plan for current and future business growth. 

39. User-Centered Design (UCD)

User-centered design is an approach that concentrates on solving design issues. Users are at the center of the design process, while the product is designed around their needs, pain points, goals, and behavior. Therefore, user-centered design is useful for designers to create a highly usable product with simplicity in mind.

40. User Interview

User interview refers to the interview when groups of users answer questions regarding a specific product. They are talking about how they use products, and this is significant during the early concept development.

41. UI/UX Design

The UI/UX design of any user interface requires careful planning and design thinking to create a user-friendly and practical product. Usability is of utmost importance in UI/UX design, so it is necessary to understand the customers’ pains, goals and needs.

42. User Experience (UX)

User Experience (UX) refers to a range of users' impressions and experiences while interacting with the design. UX designers carry out different methods to discover possible issues that might affect the user’s journey.

user experiencing easy way to use a digital product
Credit image: Canva

43. User Interface (UI)

User Interface (UI) refers to the physical look and functions of the interfaces that enable users to interact with a product or service in the easiest way. It combines several design concepts, including interaction design, information architecture, and visual design. UI designers focus on what users might need to do while navigating through a product/service, enabling them to easily access, understand and facilitate actions.

user can see how easy to navigate trough the mobile app
Credit image: Canva

44. Usability Test

Usability testing in UX design is the process that gives a better insight into the users behavior while completing test tasks. It is a powerful UX tool that helps designers to  improve design product usability. This testing needs to take place with real users. After they complete the specific tasks, designers can better understand the user journey and improve the final design.

45. Wireframe

Wireframes or wire flows represent rough sketches of digital interfaces. Wireframing helps designers visualize the layout of a web page or mobile app. Their purpose is to improve intuitive positioning and clarify an overview of functional elements on each page structure.

digital sketch of mobile app
Credit image: Canva

Bottom Line

We’ve seen that UI/UX terms a reused to describe different methods, tactics and other aspects of a design. Design vocabulary proves to be a hidden gem in every successful career of a designer or design agency.

UX and UI terminology thus impacts the daily life of designers, developers and clients. As a significant incentive for every design development stage, design terminology should be taken seriously!

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