As I've said in my previous question, I am venturing into UX/UI and very intrigued and anxious to get deeper in this industry. I was thinking if UX/UI only applies to designs and experience for web applications (Apps) and websites or does this also apply to any GUI used in desktop applications, web browsers, and any GUI for that matter used in any software application? I want to know if UX/UI is also used in media such as movie posters, print ads or billboards.

  • 2
    The clue is in the name really. User Experience. If you think of a User as being a Human then if a user experiences something, then it's UX. Also, UX is not UI. The interface is just a small element of UX.
    – JonW
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 10:00
  • UX can be applied to anything: as is exampled by the discussions on here tagged 'physical' ux.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/physical
    – PhillipW
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 15:45

5 Answers 5



Theoretically and by definition, the field of UX applies to any product or service. The techniques we use, such as user-centered design, can be used to make any product/service easy and enjoyable to use, and to elicit responses such as trust and pride in ownership. We can do it for digital SLR cameras. We can do it for bath tubs. We can do it for employment placement services. We can apply it not only to the product and service itself, but to all the “touch points” related to the product: advertisement, availability, packaging, maintenance, service and technical support, and disposal. We can make better movie posters. Sure we can.


In practice, we do software user interfaces, primarily web and mobile sites/apps. A UX practitioner and a UI designer are effectively synonymous (but a UI designing and UI developing are not the same). Look at the questions on this site. By my last count over 90% concerned software user interfaces. The percent is even higher if you exclude the questions that appear to be purely design exercises (e.g., Cool/heat and sun/snowflake display on A/C and other machines), rather than involving products the poster is actually designing for production.

Why the Limits?

Expanding beyond UIs has long been an aspiration of UX practioners, impacting our very self-definitions. It hasn’t happened because there are already other professions designing other things. There are already graphic designers, advertisers, industrial designers, fashion designers, stylists, human factors engineers, marketers, promoters, architects, cartographers, and more. They’ve been doing it for decades, longer than UX has existed. I’m inclined to think they know what they’re doing by now (except those twits designing a lot of consumer electronic hardware out there, but that’s more traditional human factors engineering than UX as practiced). The truth is we don’t know enough outside of UIs to design other things, and it would be arrogant to think that we do.

Likewise, a lot of UX knowledge is specific to UI design. Again, purvey the questions on this site. Many seek knowledge relevant to UI’s only. Knowing the difference between Find and Search is not going to help you know where to place billboards along the road. Understanding how screen readers work won’t help you design movie posters. If you’re trained and experienced in UX, then you’ll have to leave a lot of the training and experience behind if you go off to design printed ads.

UX Cross-pollination

That is not to say we don’t have something to offer for non-UIs designs. Cross-discipline pollination is often fruitful. So, yes, we could improve of movie posters, but we’re only likely to succeed if we combine our UX knowledge with a study of graphic design (for physical media), advertising, marketing, and everything else involved.

  • I don't totally agree with the sentiment of this post: while there may be traditional professionals who have dealt with movie posters / print ads / billboards the fact that technology means that these mediums are becoming more INTERACTIVE means that UX will tend to spread further into other fields.
    – PhillipW
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 15:42

First of all, please don't treat UX and UI as synonymous ever again :-)


Second, welcome to ux.stackexchange.

Third, it's a little bit hard to answer if "UX is used" because UX can't be used. User Experience, or let's say, Perception Experience is always there where a being is percepting something. So there is an experience when watching a movie poster. It's just not the user experience as there is no real user but actually a cinema visitor for example (if this poster is in the cinema).

The easiest way to resolve the definition dilemma is to talk about Experience Design in general.

When you put movie posters next to the cinema rooms itself, which poster should the visitor see? A poster of the movie that runs in this particular room or a poster of, let's say, a movie that will be released in the next few months? Depending on what experience the visitor may have, the answer might be one or the other. If I want my visitors to have a great experience while visiting by finding their way to the room fast, I would go with the current movie poster. If I want them to be aware of future movies even if they want to go in right now in a different movie, I'll put the future movie poster in.

Someone will need to think about it and decide. It should be an experience designer (but mostly will be a complete stranger to that field unfortunately).

I'll try to answer your question this way: Experience design uses all necessary media channels.


At the interview of my current job, I said: "My work is about human, the fact that you are a banking IT is only a medium". Of course this sentence emphasizes a bit too much; we have our specialties / expertise. Yet I believe being a UX designer is also about keeping the toilet brush closer to the toilet.

I would suggest you Norman's awesome book if you want to think further: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Design_of_Everyday_Things

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    "also about keeping the toilet brush closer to the toilet." <-- Agree, as a UX designer, you are an experience designer. It's just that you are specialized in creating experiences for users of a web site for example. Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 11:55

User Experience is a broad term that refers to the sum of the pleasures and frustrations that a subject lives while interacting with an organisation, a good or service, being it watching the latest ad on TV, reading the ingredients on the back of a product, listening to a piece of music while waiting to talk to the customer care guy or gathering information before making a subscription to a service on an online store.

An Interface is a means to let two or more systems exchange information in a standardised way that is appropriate and understandable by all the involved parties. The user interface is used to let a human input, manipulate or get a desired output or action from a machine, being it a mechanical device or a computer. If you are familiar with the development world, another good example of interface could be an API.

As you can see the two terms are very abstract, broad and applicable to many different cases; untied to any specific media.


Regarding the confusion between UI and UX, it is a common misconception. But it is a misconception. UX discipline diagram

This image is one of many that shows the cross-disciplinary role of UX. This diagram isn't perfect and there are many variations of diagrams like this as UX professionals continue to improve and refine where their role fits and where it doesn't.

UI is a discipline that would be a subset of the Interaction Design circle. It specifically focuses on the creation of visual interfaces. While UI is an important aspect of UX, it is only a part of the what a user experiences when they interact with a company, product, brand, or event.

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