UI Design

A Complete UI Glossary: 100 Terms All Designers Should Know

UI glossary

The digital world thrives on the visual and functional elegance of User Interface (UI) design. From the placement of a button to the shade of a color, every element impacts user engagement. Both novice and expert designers need to enrich their knowledge constantly. This extended glossary offers a detailed look into 100 UI terms that are pivotal in the design landscape.

Table: UI Design Terminology

1. UIUser Interface: The space where user-machine interactions happen.
2. UXA feature hinting at how an object should be used.
3. AffordanceAn urging prompt, guides users to take a specific action.
4. AlignmentArranging items to line up with one another.
5. BreadcrumbNavigation tool that showcases the user’s path within a program.
6. ButtonA clickable element inducing an action.
7. CTA (Call to Action)An urging prompt guides users to take a specific action.
8. Dropdown MenuA list of options that appears when an interface item is clicked.
9. FaviconA small icon representing a website in browser tabs.
10. Grid SystemA structure used for designing layout, ensuring alignment and consistency.
11. IconographyThe design and use of symbols to convey information.
12. Landing PageA webpage where users arrive, often for a specific marketing purpose.
13. ModalA set of colours chosen for a specific design.
14. NavigationSystem to move through a website or app’s sections and pages.
15. OpacityDegree of item transparency.
16. PaletteA message appears when hovering over an interface element, offering information about the element.
17. PrototypeA preliminary model of the final product used for testing design concepts.
18. Responsive DesignDesign that adjusts across different screen sizes and devices.
19. TooltipA message appearing when hovering over an interface element, offering information about the element.
20. ViewportThe user’s visible area on a webpage or app.
100. WhitespaceA dialog box or popup needs user interaction before accessing the main content.

Delving Deeper into Selected Terms

  • Dropdown Menu: Beyond its primary function, an effectively designed dropdown menu can enhance usability by making navigation more straightforward, mainly when screen real estate is limited.
  • Favicon: Although small and often overlooked, favicons boost brand recognition and provide a visual cue in browser tabs, bookmarks, and history.
  • Grid System: A fundamental tool in responsive design, the grid system ensures that a design maintains its structure and hierarchy across varying screen sizes and resolutions.
A complete UI visual

Historical Context

UI design didn’t emerge out of a vacuum. It has roots in traditional graphic design, human-computer interaction principles, and cognitive psychology. Knowing the historical progression helps designers understand the rationale behind many UI conventions today.

Why Terminology Matters in UI Design

  1. Streamlines Design Processes: When all team members “speak the same language,” design processes run smoother, reducing misunderstandings.
  2. Facilitates Learning: For newcomers, understanding industry jargon accelerates their learning curve, enabling them to dive into hands-on work faster.
  3. Enhances Client Relations: When designers can articulate their processes and decisions with appropriate terminology, it instils confidence in clients and stakeholders.

Learn More: Become a Digital Marketer With No Experience in 2023

Being abreast with terminology is just one facet of being a successful UI designer. It’s equally crucial to keep an eye on emerging trends. With the rise of virtual reality, augmented reality, and voice user interfaces, designers will soon need to integrate new terms and principles into their lexicon.


The world of UI design is as expansive as it is intricate. As the digital realm evolves, the vocabulary associated with it grows. This extended glossary serves as both an educational tool and a foundational resource for all invested in the ever-evolving landscape of UI design. Whether sketching your first wireframe or overseeing a design team, this comprehensive list ensures you’re well-equipped to discuss, critique, and create with authority.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on UI Design

1. What does ‘UI’ in UI design mean?

UI stands for User Interface, referring to the space and interactive touchpoints where users engage with a device, software, or website. It encompasses every visual aspect, from typography to color schemes to animations.

2. Is there a difference between UX and UI?

While both pertain to user experience, UX focuses on the overall feel of the experience, and UI concentrates on the aesthetics and interactive aspects of a design.

3. Do UI designers need programming knowledge?

It’s beneficial but not mandatory. Familiarity with basic coding principles can streamline communication between designers and developers, ensuring the design is feasible.

4. What tools are popularly used in UI design?

Designers often use software like Adobe XD, Sketch, Figma, and InVision to conceptualize and iterate designs.

5. Why is ‘whitespace’ frequently mentioned in UI contexts?

Whitespace (or negative space) allows elements to breathe, ensuring a clear, uncluttered presentation. This not only enhances aesthetics but also improves usability.

6. How do animations contribute to UI design?

Animations guide users, offering visual feedback and enhancing the user experience. They can indicate task progress, draw attention, or provide a visual hierarchy.

7. Can a good UI design boost business metrics?

Absolutely. A well-designed UI can improve user engagement, reduce bounce rates, and convert more visitors into customers.

8. How frequently should UI designs be updated?

While there’s no fixed timeline, it’s essential to keep the UI updated with current design trends, technological advancements, and user preferences to maintain user satisfaction.

9. How do UI designers prioritize elements on a page?

Through a combination of user feedback, A/B testing, and understanding of design principles. Elements critical to user tasks or business goals are given prominence.

10. Is a mobile-first approach essential in UI design?

Given the surge in mobile users, a mobile-first approach ensures that designs cater to mobile users effectively. It’s about starting the design process with mobile interfaces before scaling to larger screens.

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