Becoming a UI or UX designer is a great option if you are a creative who wants to enter the tech industry. UX and UI professionals in entry-level jobs make around $80,000 and $50,000 respectively, which is why these jobs are in high demand.
However, many people do not know what user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) designers even do. How are they different from one another?
If you have ever used a smartphone or an app without having to read the instructions, chances are that UX and UI designers made it possible.
UX design makes a piece of technology user-friendly and intuitive, so that it feels like you know how to use the technology without needing to research it beforehand. With the help of engaging graphics created by a UI designer, you should find it easy to use the product or service right from the start.
If you want to take part in this booming industry, you will first need to understand how UX and UI designers work together, the roles they play and which position better suits your strengths. Then, you will need an education to help you pursue your dream career.
Though user experience design has been around for a long time, the phrase was coined in the 1990s by Don Norman to describe everything the user experiences when interacting with a piece of technology.
As a result, UX design covers a wide variety of tasks and duties, though the mission of the profession remains the same: to cater to the user.
In the initial phase, a manager or client will brief the designer on an idea, who will then begin researching the subject. The designer may look up the client’s existing website and business, as well as its competitors. It may analyze a competitor’s smartphone app and determine which aspects are useful and which can be improved.
Next, UX designers will conduct field-based research, meaning they will interview current users or customers. They will typically ask users what they want a product to do, when they might use it and why. If the designer is revamping an existing product, he or she may ask users to describe which parts of the product work and which need tweaking.
From here, the designer will begin creating user personas. Personas are a very unique aspect of the UX design job. They help tech companies keep the user as the main focus and make the design process more personal.
When creating a persona, a user experience designer will envision a fictional person who is likely to use the app. If the app helps people find jobs in their dream careers, for example, the fictional persona may be a 22-year-old college graduate.
The persona may even be given a name, such as Ricky, and designers will refer to the persona as Ricky in company meetings. They may also come up with fictional tasks that Ricky needs to perform, and discuss how the app will help him complete those tasks.
From here, a UX designer may sketch paper prototypes and wireframes. Paper prototypes are rough drawings of product screenshots to demonstrate usability and structure.
Wireframes are like blueprints that show potential screens on an app and describe how to get from one screen to the next. Initial wireframes are relatively bare and do not include much color. They evolve throughout the process as troubleshooting and user testing takes place.
UI design usually comes during the mockup phase. When wireframes are nearing completion, they are used to create mockups. These mockups incorporate visual design and show exactly what the finished product will look like. They include the graphic designs, colors, final images and typography.
A UI designer helps to bring a UX designer’s creations to life. The designs should keep the user in mind, as they must grab his or her attention without distracting from the goals of the product.
While a UX design course may focus on the technical aspects of prototypes and how to conduct research, UI courses may focus on the principles of design, the development process and how to troubleshoot different creations.
As a UI designer, you will learn to use different design programs, such as Adobe Photoshop, MockFlow, Balsamiq and more. Note that you will need to understand the basics of UX design in order to use these programs, since many of them help with rapid wireframing.
A user interface designer is different from a UX designer, however, because his or her profession will focus entirely on the digital world. In contrast, a UX designer will interview potential users and create personas for different products.
Other duties of a UI designer include:
It is important to remember that many job listings for UI design may be closer to graphic design or UX design, even though the two positions are different.
There are many UI and UX design courses available, especially because these job positions are in high demand. Courses are also offered online or in person.
You may pursue a degree in user experience design, or you may enroll in a certificate program. In fact, many programs cover user experience and user interface, so that you will be well-prepared to take a job in either profession.
If you are wondering how to become a UX designer or UI designer, taking a course is an excellent way to start. Many courses have mentor opportunities, so that you will have one-on-one help almost every step of the way. Some schools even offer a money-back guarantee if you cannot obtain a job in your desired field within six months, even after working with a career coach.
You can complete a UX or UI designer course in 10 months or two years, depending on the program and whether you enroll full-time or part-time.
You may also be wondering whether you should enroll in a paid or free development course. Ultimately, you should research a program thoroughly before participating. A free course will not cost you money, but you may not get one-on-one help or learn certain topics in depth. Paid courses, on the other hand, offer in-depth courses and have higher completion rates, but may end up costing you a lot of money. It is also more difficult to judge the quality of a paid program.