User experience is often the term that I find is most confused. Many different definitions of this term exist and a quick Google search can leave you more confused than you were before you looked. (This is where most confusion around UX vs UI exists).
For me, UX is the experience a user has with a brand during a journey across a single channel (this is one important distinction). A user experience will probably involve multiple UIs which are used at different stages of that journey.
We often think of websites when we think of UX, but it applies to all touch points a brand has with a customer and all of their journeys.
Let’s, again, consider the example of a customer visiting a grocery store. Their user experience was affected by how easy it was to park, how easy it was to find the goods they required, the layout of the store, how tall the shelves were, how crowded the store was, and how easy it was to checkout. It could even be affected by how easy it is to return an item later on.
All of the user interfaces they interact with throughout this journey matter, and all have an impact on the user experience.
If we now consider the example of someone buying from the same retailer online, the journey will be very different using a different set of UIs.
They’ll visit the website, either at the homepage or a deeper link, browse, add to the basket, and checkout. One key thing to consider here is that their journey does not finish with the checkout. There’s an order confirmation email, a delivery, a possible interaction with customer services, and maybe a return.
All of these are part of a journey and a user experience, but, crucially, this is a different UX than when they visit the retailer in person, as, in this definition, a user experience is confined within a single channel. Therefore, a user can have multiple experiences with the same brand, with each experience using multiple UIs.
Each of the UIs that contribute to a user experience is important. I’m sure we’ve all used a frustrating UI at one point or another during a journey with a brand. A poor UI can ruin an otherwise positive UX (think of many supermarket self-checkouts when they were first introduced – you could have a great shopping experience until the point at which you tried to checkout and ended up leaving the store frustrated).