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30 Common UX Terms Every Web Designer Should Know

With so many intuitive content management systems and pre-built design templates available, there are many people – designers and non-designers alike – who can create a high-quality design. There is a difference, however, between creating an aesthetically pleasing website and one that’s effective in its mission. This is why user experience (UX) design is so important.

UX design is a much more thorough and rigorous version of web design as most of us know it. It involves a lot of research, planning, and testing, all to ensure that the resulting site provides an optimally enhanced experience for the user.

Here are 30 common UX terms every designer should know, whether you’re brand new to design or you’re wanting to take your skills to the next level

1. A/B Testing

The process by which different versions of a website are tested simultaneously in order to detect differences in user behavior and preference between the two.

2. Affinity Diagramming

A form of data organization used to clearly outline groups of ideas and establish relationships among them. In UX, this is used for the purposes of planning site layout or content.

3. Analysis

This is the stage where team members research all the data collected up to a point. The data (or “analytics”) is then used to decide how best to approach a design for the user experience.

4. Beta Launch

The soft launch of a website that gives designers (and others) an opportunity to see and interact with it live, and test out kinks before the official launch.

5. Card Sorting

Card sorting refers to the physical or digital cards used to capture information about various parts of the website (e.g. content, breadcrumb link trails, navigation). It’s done in a highly organized manner to ease the subsequent planning of the site.

6. Color Theory

The idea that color has an effect on user behavior. Also known as color psychology.

7. Competitor Analysis

This is the study of competitors’ websites for the purposes of identifying strengths and weaknesses. This information is then used to help designers form a plan based on what already works for the known audience, but that won’t hinder the site from standing out from the competition.

8. Comparative Analysis

Similar to competitor analysis, this is when other websites are studied with the intent of spotting strengths and weaknesses. This assessment, however, focuses more on comparing granular website elements.

9. Content Audit

During the initial review and assessment stage, all current content is catalogued and assessed for continued viability.

10. Content Strategy

Any type of planning that defines how content is written and structured within a website. Affinity diagramming and card sorting are part of this process.

11. Contextual Enquiry

UX designers can engage with a user in real time as they move through a website. This helps them get a better sense for how users feel as they interact with certain elements of the site.

12. Diary Study

This is similar to a contextual enquiry (above), except that a diary study takes place over the long-term and without instantaneous feedback. Users instead record their experiences and share them all at a later date.

13. Experience Architecture

Experience architecture, or map, is a clearly defined path through which users on a website should navigate to reach the intended goal (the conversion).

14. Heuristic Review

As part of the review phase, a website is assessed for usability issues that will require addressing in the next iteration.

15. Interaction Design

A form of web design that focuses on creating a meaningful and valuable connection between the visitor and the website.

16. Iterative Design

Rather than have a clear start and stop, iterative design is more cyclical in nature so that the process of review, planning, prototyping, implementation, and QA repeat until the desired result is achieved.

17. Mood Board

A mood board helps UX designers define a specific style for a website through a collection of images, colors, text, and other branding elements. Unlike other data collection and design manipulation methods, this is more of a free-flowing collage rather than a step-by-step diagram.

18. Personas

This is a general marketing term, by nature, and one that seeks to establish a clear identity for the target audience. This is especially helpful in UX as it’s the user’s predicted behaviors and desires that affect how a website is to be designed in the first place.

19. Progressive Disclosure

This is a subset of interaction design, one which is meant to simplify the user experience as much as possible. So rather than present users with all the information at one time, they feed the minimum amount to them slowly over a series of steps of dynamic shifts.

20. Prototype

A prototype is an outline or sketch of a proposed web design. Low-level prototypes are usually just the bare bones of what a website may look like. High-level prototypes include more details, but fall short of a full design mockup.

21. Qualitative Research

During the information gathering phase, UX designers utilize a number of techniques. Through interviews, contextual enquiries, diary studies, and more, the goal is to better understand how users interact with a website; thus, focusing on the quality of the interactions.

22. Quantitative Research

Quantitative research is the other side of the research coin. Instead of focusing on the quality of a user’s experience with a website, solid data is what matters most. A/B testing and competitor analysis are two examples of this.

23. Scenario

A scenario is a story that a designer envisions for their users. It usually begins with a look into the hypothetical life of the target audience. The scenario then plays out how the website would factor into providing them with a solution to a problem they face in their everyday life.

24. Storyboard

A storyboard is a sketch. In UX, it can be the visual sketch of a scenario or it can be the rough sketches of how a designer envisions a website will look.

25. UI Elements

These are the parts of a website that enable users to control their experience. Buttons, navigation bars, slider arrows, and anything else that may be engaged with in order to move through the website is a user interface (UI) element.

26. Usability

This refers to the basic ease of interacting with and navigating through a website.

27. User-centered Design

This is the main goal of UX design: to create a website wholly centered around accommodating to the user’s experience.

28. User Journey

A user journey is the pathway that a UX designer establishes for site visitors, from the point of entry to conversion. This may also be referred to as UX flow.

29. User Research

User research is another term for all the analytical tasks that are completed in order to understand a brand’s audience better. Quantitative and qualitative research are the two segments of this.

30. User Test

The key difference between a user test and a contextual enquiry is that users are monitored live and in-person as they interact with a website.

31. UX Assets

UX assets are tools used to iteratively build a site’s design, including prototypes, wireframes, moodboards, mockups, etc.

32. Wireframe

Wireframes take place before prototyping and aim to establish the basic skeleton of a website’s layout.


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Call to action (CTA)

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User testing

User testing refers to a technique used in the design process to evaluate a product, feature or prototype with real users. There are several reasons why you might want to undergo usability testing, the most common is that it allows the design team to identify friction in a user experience they are designing, so that it can be addressed before being built or deployed.


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Content Management System

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Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design refers to a web page that dynamically adapts its layout to fit the size and orientation of the device on which it is viewed. A responsive design allows for a more optimised user experience across desktop and laptop computers as well as smartphones and tablets of varying sizes.

User Stories

User stories allow the functionality of a product or service to be expressed as written descriptions of an experience as seen from the users perspective. The writing of user stories creates a list of design and development tasks to complete in order to create any required functionality.

User Interface

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A persona in UX Design is the characterisation of a user who represents a segment of your target audience. On a project you might create any number of personas to be representative of a range of user needs and desires. The solutions you design must answer these needs in order to deliver value to your target audience.

Card sorting

A great, reliable, inexpensive method for discovering patterns in how users would expect to find content or functionality. Card sorting is used to test the taxonomy of data with a group of subjects, usually to help inform the creation of the information architecture, user flow, or menu structure on a project.


A technique used to generate ideas around a specific topic. Often done in groups, but can be done individuals. The process usually involves writing down all ideas around a topic onto paper, a whiteboard or stickies often implying some kind of association.

Minimum Viable Product

An MVP is a product that has the minimum set of features to prove the most essential hypothesis for a product. Businesses building a new product can create a Minimum Viable Product to prove that an idea is viable and warrants further investment. A further benefit being that the next stage of development can be informed by feedback obtained from testing that MVP.


A sitemap is a diagrammatic representation of a hierarchical system. It usually depicts the parent-sibling relationship between pages in a website, showing how sub pages might be arranged underneath their parent groupings. This arrangement forms a map of the site.

User journey

A user journey represents a sequence of events or experiences a user might encounter while using a product or service. A user journey can be mapped or designed to show the steps and choices presented as interactions, and the resulting actions.


A prototype is draft representation built to test ideas for layout, behaviour and flow in a system. Prototypes are an indispensable tool for resolving a large number of potential issues in a concept or business before too many resources are deployed to put a design into production.


A Wireframe is a visual schematic that conveys a basic level of communication, structure and behaviour during the design of a system. Wireframes are low-fidelity designs that bypass including a detailed user interface or visual design, conveying just enough to get across the core idea.


To say something is usable is a qualitative statement about how easy that thing is to use. Usability is an assessment of how learnable a system is and how easy a user finds it to use. The usability of a system or product is a key factor in determining whether the user experience is a good one.

Information Architecture

Information architecture is the design and organisation of content, pages and data into a structure that aids users understanding of a system. A more organised system enables users to more easily find the information they require and complete the intended tasks.

UI Design

User Interface Design is the discipline of designing software interfaces for devices, ideally with a focus on maximising efficiency, responsiveness and aesthetics to foster a good user experience.

UX Design

The practice of User Experience (UX) Design is the coming together of many specific design related disciplines to improve the usability, responsiveness, uptake and aesthetics of a product or service.

User Experience

A general term that covers all aspects of a user's participation while engaging with something that has been designed. Usually when talking about User Experience in the digital design field it refers to the interactions, reactions, emotions and perceptions while using an app, service, website or product.