UX vs. IxD vs. UI - Help me create a diagram


Hi All,

I’m creating a venn diagram for work showing User experience on one side User Interface on the other side and Interaction Design in the overlap in the centre. Would you be able to help me fill this in? Or if you have seen a similar diagram could you send it through?

It can be a mix of techniques ie: Usability testing, Information architecture, and also things that those roles focus on, ie: functionality, artistic license, etc.


I’ve always liked this one


Nice one, @leighrubin =) That’ll be a useful tool for explaining interaction design and UX to the team!

Although I’d define user experience as a non-exclusive superset of three key disciplines:

  • Interaction Design
  • Visual design (instead of interface design?)
  • Information architecture

And then have ‘interface design’ at the intersection of ‘interaction design’ and ‘visual design’.

Related disciplines: UX also intersects with:

  • Human computer interaction
  • Human factors
  • Content creation
  • Industrial design
  • Informatics
  • Marketing
  • Architecture
  • Engineering

Functions: With the above disciplines we can then get particular functions by looking at their intersections with ‘interaction design’:

  • Interface design: interaction design and visual design
  • Spatial experience: Architecture, visual design and interaction design
  • Controls: industrial design and interaction design
  • usability engineering: interaction design, human computer interaction and human factors
  • Navigation design: interaction design, information architecture and visual design

Methods/techniques are involved in many different disciplines. For example, user research techniques like contextual enquiries, or analytical methods like affinity diagramming, would be used by many forms of design not exclusive of interaction design, or even of user experience design.

Dan Saffer did quite a bit of thinking about these models (see http://www.kickerstudio.com/2008/12/the-disciplines-of-user-experience/) when writing his book “Designing for Interaction”.

Here’s the diagram he constructed:


Nice diagram @Lukcha !

As an industrial designer I would have to say though that the industrial design ellipse should cross into the visual design ellipse more than it does in that diagram- have you seen the way we sketch? :stuck_out_tongue:

But seriously, industrial design requires strong visual design skills because that’s how we communicate our ideas. We need to know how to draw in perspective, how to draw the endless different materials available, how light interacts with an object, how to use different materials and most of this is by hand! It’s all about the sketching! The CAD stuff comes later when the thing is more refined. We need to be able to design that visual story of our concepts long before we pick up a block of blue foam and start crafting that 3D form.


I have a lot of respect for industrial designers! I’d love to see all UX designers approaching design with as matured a discipline and as much rigour one day.

I learnt a new term today—‘invention design’. It seems to be a subset of industrial design, and was described as being much more in the visual design circle due to the ideation and sketching that helped visionaries bring their ideas to physical form. I’m not questioning the sketching skills of every good industrial designer. Have you heard of this term, @AshleaMcKay? Would you say it’s a function at the visual design end of Industrial Design?


@Lukcha Ooh that’s a cool term- I like that!

No, I haven’t heard this term before but it totally makes sense. Yes I would and I think it would also intersect with human factors as well.

I know you’re not - I was joking about the sketching hahahahah :slight_smile:


Wow this was so interesting and helpful thank you :slight_smile: I ended up having to keep it very very basic as we were showing an audience that have never heard of most of these areas before and the goal was to show them how interaction can overlap into both visual and ux tiers. But this has been very interesting for me to understand where everything fits.

@Lukcha @AshleaMcKay Funny you mentioned industrial design as I’ve been thinking more and more lately that in digital design we need to bring in more industrial design methodologies and processes as we are now designing for function and less for static visuals as we were previously with pure print design.