I read an awesome post today from honest people who really get it, and the following quote from it sums up the difference between UI and UX that many people still do not get:
great design is more than pretty pixels. Great design is more than the neat gradients of your header or even the fancy animations of your hamburger menu. Great design is about the experience. It’s about how people interact with the stuff you’ve built and whether it actually helps people achieve their goals or not. As a community we are shifting toward this paradigm and as we explored this we realized that there will be lots of important roles to play as this shift occurs.
As Steve Jobs famously said:
Design is how it works
I still talk with founders and consultants who think I'd be a great UX hire because they like my "style". My "style" (graphic style, I infer) has nothing to do with UX. This is when I worry about taking the job.
The UX/UI symbiosis is detrimental to our industry: UI was born out of a desire to separate graphic design from content, and to avoid graphic and layout iterations based on a client's personal taste. UX was then born to enhance the user journey through the UI, to empower users and reinforce UI decisions.
UX is still evolving, new tracks are currently being born because a single UX designer cannot fulfil all the requirements of the role for large projects: a UX designer is a thinker, a researcher, a designer and a developer.
User Experience UX is exactly what it says on the tin: how somebody feels while they interact with your product. How somebody feels is the result of design, and design is the result of somebody sitting down and thinking. What the honest UX designer ultimately aims for is to empower people to do something positive, and to feel that they have achieved good. (I say honest UX designer because design can be used also for ill).
To digress from digital: Urban Planning is UX and UI: The "agora" is a triumph of design - it has simplicity and beauty, potential energy, enables information diffusion in the truest form possible, and polyvalence. We can measure how a user experiences an empty open space with a quick survey, and then we ask ourselves: "how will the user feel after we add an interactive element to the space?". So, we add a bench (for the user to sit on) and we measure again: "How do you feel now?". The results will be different. How about if we add a market stall or two?
So, by design, we can change how a user feels. Good "brands" will work alongside users, and offer good experiences.
Good UX is the result of good design thinking.