User Experience (UX) Terms: A to Z Glossary

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

35 common UX design words to know when preparing for an exam, interview, or job search.

[Featured image] A UX designer uses a laptop and makes a note on a yellow Post-it note while reviewing printouts of wireframes on a desk.

This list of 35 common user experience (UX) design terms provides an overview of key topics in UX/UI design, research, and writing. You can use these UX words to build your vocabulary when studying for a Professional Certificate, building your resume, or impressing future employers in interviews. Whether you are just starting your career or switching from another field, you can learn UX terminology and feel confident in your job search.

35 UX design terms

A/B testing

A/B testing is conducting simple experiments in which users interact with two designs to collect data on which one performs better. Used in marketing, UX design, and other fields, this methodology helps inform decisions about what resonates most with users.

Affinity diagram

An affinity diagram is the visual representation of affinity mapping, in which large sets of ideas are organized into clusters. In UX, affinity diagramming is a research method that sorts and organizes ideas into groups of similar items.


An API, or application programming interface, is a set of protocols that determine how two software applications will interact with each other. APIs are written in programming languages such as C++ or JavaScript. A Google Maps API, for example, enables everyday users to embed maps on their websites to indicate their business location.


Breadcrumbs are navigation systems that help users understand where they currently are on a website or app. If you are on the Google UX Design Professional Certificate page on Coursera’s website, you’ll see links near the top that show where you are and how you got there: Browse > Computer Science > Design and Product.

Card sorting

Card sorting is a UX research method that provides insight into how users categorize information to help design the information architecture. Participants are typically given notecards with different topics and asked to organize them in a way they think is logical. 

Design sprint

A design sprint is a five-day process of design, prototyping and testing ideas to solve specific business problems. The concept was coined by Jake Knapp, who at the time was a designer at Google Ventures.

Empathy map

An empathy map is a tool that helps designers visualize what they know about a group of users. It is split into four quadrants that contain what users say, think, do, and feel about their experience of a product or service. The tool helps designers build empathy for end users.

End user 

End users are the people that UX designers are designing for. UX design is about identifying and solving end users’ pain points.

Eye tracking 

Eye tracking is a UX research method that tracks a user’s eye movements as they look at a website to understand what they look at and in what order.

Gestalt principles

The Gestalt principles are derived from psychology. They are a set of laws that describe how our minds interpret visual information, such as how close or far apart buttons are on a website. In UX, the way a user feels about that proximity is used to make data-driven design decisions that shape the user experience.

Human-computer interaction 

Human-computer interaction (HCI) is a multidisciplinary field of study that focuses on how technology is designed and the interaction between humans and computers. It is now a common university major for those who want to get into UX design.

Inclusive design

Inclusive design is the process of creating products and services that can be used by people of all backgrounds and abilities. It considers factors like accessibility, age, geography, language, race, and socioeconomic status.

Information architecture

Information architecture is arranging content and information in ways that make sense. It requires designers to determine not only what users interact with but how and when those elements appear in their experience.

Interaction design

Interaction design is a subset of UX design that focuses on the interaction between users and products, based on factors like words, time, space, visuals, and behavior.


Microcopy is the tiny bits of text that guides users through a digital experience. This can include buttons, labels, placeholder text in input fields, and error messages.


A mockup is a static representation of a product. It tends to be a work-in-progress and cannot be clicked on or interacted with. 


An MVP, or minimum viable product, is a product that is launched in its initial best-but-not-perfect state. MVPs are released to the public to receive user feedback before going back to the drawing board to add features that enhance the user experience.

Pain points

Pain points are problems that users experience when using a product or service. In the UX design process, researchers or designers identify what they are, and designers find ways to design it better. 


Used in marketing and in UX, a user persona is a profile of someone that represents your target market. User personas might include this person’s background information, goals, attitude, skills, and behavioral patterns. This information helps UXers imagine and design for a specific audience.

Problem statement

A problem statement is a concise, actionable summary of a user’s pain point when designing a product. In UX, the problem statement provides guidance for how to improve the product’s user experience. 


A prototype is a model of what the final product could look like. Low-fidelity prototypes might be sketches on paper, while high-fidelity prototypes are advanced enough that users can interact with the app or website and give feedback before the designers finalize the product for launch.

Responsive web design

Responsive web design is the process of designing websites and apps so that they adapt to mobile devices or tablets by optimizing layouts, platforms, and screen sizes. A well-designed website is usable and aesthetically pleasing regardless of which device a user views it on. 


Like a storyboard, a cartoonist might use a storyboard in UX is a rough visual outline of a scenario. Storyboards capture a chronological narrative of users encountering a problem (pain point) in the product or service through a series of images.

Task analysis 

Task analysis is listing steps a user might take to complete a goal from the user’s perspective. Understanding a user's pain points is often done in the early stages of product development.


Like in graphic design, typography is the style and appearance of text in a design. UI designers generally want to choose aesthetically pleasing and legible typography for users.

UI design

UI design, or user interface design, is the user interface design process. A user interface is the point of interaction between humans and computers. A UI designer’s goal is to create how digital products look and feel, with the goal of delighting the end user.

Usability testing

Usability testing is a UX research method that evaluates how easy a product is to use by gathering a group of users to test it and answer a series of questions.

User flow

A user flow is a diagram or chart describing the steps a user should take to complete a task or goal.

User journey map

A user journey map is a visual representation of a customer’s experience. It might cover a customer’s relationship with a brand from the very beginning or focus on a specific experience while using the product. User journey maps document the stages user experiences, tasks done in each stage, emotions, and potential opportunities to improve.

User story

A user story is a short and simple description of who the user is, what they want, and why. It is written from the end user’s perspective and used to inform design decisions.

UX design

UX (user experience) design is the field of study and work that is concerned with resolving user pain points by improving the experience and functionality of products and services. People in this field are called UX designers or product designers.

UX research

UX research is qualitative and quantitative research on users to understand their problems and behaviors when using a product. A UX researcher uses various methodologies, such as user interviews, usability testing, and card sorting, to gather data and present them to the team as actionable insights. 

UX strategy

UX strategy is a detailed plan to align the UX team’s work with overarching business goals and brand identity at every customer touchpoint. It presents a vision for the product, including what it looks like, the value it delivers to users, goals, and a plan of action.

UX writing

UX writing is the process of planning and writing the text (microcopy) displayed on digital products that guides the user through their experience of using the product. A UX writer finds the right words for buttons, labels, menus, error messages, and instructions that are intuitive, inclusive, and on brand.


A wireframe is the skeletal framework of a product’s design. Usually, a rough digital sketch, it is made in the early development stages (before the mockup) that outlines the content and functionality of a website or mobile app design.

Learn UX design with Google

Take your career to the next level with the Google UX Design Professional Certificate. Learn the foundations of UX design and gain experience with the design process, including building a wireframe, designing prototypes, and conducting user research to test your designs. 

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