User Interface Design is important
Whether it’s a game, a business’s website, or a new social media app, if the interface is clunky and difficult to use, the users are likely to delete it or seek out competitors. For such an important aspect of the user experience, you need a specialist who focuses on the design of the User Interface itself. That’s exactly what UI Designers do every day.
What Does a UI Designer Do?
UI stands for “User Interface”, or the screens that the users face when they engage with the app, software, or website. It’s about the visual elements of the user’s experience. How do the screens look? Is the navigation clear and easy to understand? Is it well-lit and cohesive in design, or outdated and clunky? A UI Designer creates the User Interface and updates it to better the user experience. Duties of UI Designers include:
- Designing the visual experience of the user from concept to launch
- Designing any modifications and improvements to the interface
- Creating user friendliness solutions to implement for the User Interface
- Collaborating with project management and engineers to create better visuals and improved user experience
- Collaborating with clients to design a User Interface based on their business needs
- Testing User Interface before releasing it to the public
- Testing any new ideas before adding them to the User Interface
- Analyzing customer comments and responses to the current User Interface and address any issues
- Conceptualizing the aesthetics for the User Interface
- Tracking the HCI (human-computer interaction) of the software
- Researching user feedback through cross-platform surveys
User Interface Design vs. User Experience Design
There is plenty of overlap between UX Designers and UI Designers, so much so that User Interface design seems to be completely encompassed within User eXperience design. Some even believe that the two are interchangeable. While User Interface is part of User eXperience, those in the industry know that there is quite the difference between the two professions. Primarily, User Interface design focuses on the interface itself while User eXperience design focuses on all aspects of user experience.
- Deals strictly with the digital aspect of the user experience — the interface
- Reflects the business’s main strengths in the User Interface
- Guides the user through the functions of the software with a user-friendly interface
- Focuses on the aesthetics and mechanics of the user experience
- Is more creatively focused, conceptualizing aesthetically pleasing visuals
- Follows UX Designers in the development process
- Addresses and solve problems to do with the user experience
- Tackles all levels of user experience beyond just the digital
- Begins the development process with a structure for optimized user experience
- Focuses on the feel of the user experience and overall user satisfaction
- Can be applied to any kind of product, though it’s often used by digital industries
UI involves some of the tools that are used to optimize the User Interface design. UX, however, is how all of those tools come together to create the best user experience.
Education and Background for UI Designers
How do you know if a career in User Interface design is the right choice for you? First, you have to have the right education and/or background. The education for a job like this can be similar to many other software or tech jobs. To start, employers may require a bachelor’s degree in one of these fields:
- Computer Science
- Graphic Design
- Human-Computer Interaction
- Mobile Computing
- Software Engineering
- Web Development
Or some other related major to the field of User Interface design. Keep in mind that User Interface design is primarily focused on visuals, graphics, and aesthetics, so you’ll want a major that gives you an understanding of those elements before you continue. You might also pursue a graduate degree such as a master’s degree in Business, Information Technology, Integrated Design or Web Design. An intensive bootcamp in Web Development will also equip you with all the skills you need to succeed in this position, in a short period of time.
Your past job experiences can also make you an attractive candidate that employers can feel confident in. It’s for this reason that some employers may ask for proven UI experience. They may also ask for a portfolio of examples when it comes to UI design.
Necessary Skills for UI Designers
The right education and work experience will equip you with the skills you need to become a UI Designer. But it can help to know what those skills are beforehand so that you know what to work towards. Some of the technical skills that you’ll need as a UI Designer include:
- Wireframing and UI prototyping
- Visual communication and graphic design
- Interaction design
- Visual design programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator
- Storyboarding and site mapping
- UI trend research
- Development processes like Agile/Scrum
- Human-Computer interaction proficiency
If you're interested in learning some of these skills, you can start with this free tutorial which covers the basics of UI Design. And keep in mind that technical skills aren’t all you need: often considered “soft skills,” interpersonal or abstract skills can be just as important when you go up for a job as a UI Designer. You can have all the technical skills in the world, but if you don’t have the right personality for the job, you’ll still be passed over for candidates who do. Fortunately, these skills can also be learned. Some of these personality skills include:
- Interpersonal and communications skills
- The ability to present your work to shareholders and decision makers
- Critical, creative thinking and problem solving
- The ability to work in a team
- Strong time-management skills
- The ability to multitask
- Empathy for the users of the software
- The ability to be constantly growing and improving
Interview Questions for UI Designers
Nervous about the potential job interviews? Don’t be. This is a highly in-demand profession. With the right skills, education, and background, you should be able to ace your interview. But it’s always a good idea to go into a job interview prepared, with an idea of the questions the interviewer is likely to ask and how you’d answer them. Here are a few of the questions we commonly see for UI Designers:
When Did You Decide To Become a User Interface Designer?
Employers want to know you’re passionate about the work you do. This question will not only give them a sense of why you love this field, but it will give them a sense of your background. Did you decide to become a UI Designer in high school or did you change careers recently? Make sure to keep this specific to UI and not spill your entire life story.
How Do You Develop a Timeline For Your UI Designs?
This question is designed to test your time management skills. How long does it typically take you to complete a project? What do you prioritize and in what order do you work? Do you typically meet deadlines? It also tests your knowledge of timeline estimation techniques such as Function Point Analysis or Use Case Template.
Describe Any Projects You’ve Worked On In the Past
If you have previous work experience in UI design, you’ll be asked to describe projects that you worked on in the past. You can describe your favorite part of the project, the challenges you faced and how you overcame them, the process of the design, and how you worked with others on the team to accomplish it. This will be a great time to use your portfolio as a jumping off point, describing the journey to creating some of the examples within.
How Do You Stay On Top of Current UI Trends?
It’s important for employees to know how passionate and well-researched you are in your chosen field. UI Designers are constantly on the lookout for ways to improve their UI design, new advances in the field and new trends that users love. Research is part of the job, and it’s a great way to impress your potential employers by showing that you have a finger on the pulse.
Your technical know-how may also be tested with questions such as:
- How do XHTML, HTML4, and HTML5 differ from one another?
- What is jQuery? What is an Ajax Request?
- How would you test a website’s performance or fix a slow website?
- Examples of legacy code that needs to be updated
How Much Do UI Designers Make?
Salary is an understandable concern for everyone in this economy. After all, when you dedicate your time as well as years of schooling to a particular position, you want to know that it will be worth it. Fortunately, UI design, like most coding jobs, is very in demand. In United States, Payscale rates the average salary for UI Designers as $64,543, not including bonuses and profit sharing. It also shows that most people in UI design jobs are highly satisfied with their job and unlikely to leave. Web design and development companies tend to pay the highest rates, some over $70,000, while the lowest recorded salaries were from university positions.
Potential Career Growth for UI Designers
UI Designers do not have to remain UI Designers for the entirety of their career. In fact, many choose to take the skills they’ve learned as a UI Designer and bring them into their next dream career or to move within the software development field entirely. You might move for higher pay or simply to pursue a different field of interest. Some of the jobs that people advance to from UI Designer, as well as their average salaries in the United States according to Payscale, include:
- UX Designer - $74,275
- Product Designer - $83,057
- Senior UX Designer - $103,325
UI Designers are professionals with a keen eye and creative mind for aesthetics and user friendly surfaces. These skills can serve them well as they continue into their next job through other aspects of software design.
How To Become a User Interface Designer
Interested in a career as a UI Designer but unsure where to start? Whether you’re planning to start your professional life as a UI Designer or changing careers from a past profession, this is an exciting time to get into UI design. This job comes in high demand because of the constantly growing data industry, and with the industry constantly growing, you’ll always have more to learn and discover.
Le Wagon offers an intense coding bootcamp in Web Development to help you learn all the skills you'll need to succeed in this position. Our 9-week Web Development bootcamp, also available in 24-week part-time, teaches major programming languages to become a great developer, but also all the skills involved in building a tech product, including UI Design (to allow you to make your interface intuitive). We have 41 campuses not just in France but throughout Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, and the Americas.
Through our bootcamps you can work on projects and develop a portfolio, attend panels and classes led by industry experts, and network with your peers, creating connections that will follow you throughout your career. You’ll learn programming languages, data science, machine learning, visualization, and much more. Best of all, listing a Le Wagon bootcamp course on your resume in addition to your other education and work background will make you stand out from the pack and boost your chances of getting hired.
Ready To Start Your Career in UI Design?
A career in UI design can be thrilling for the right candidate, and Le Wagon can help you learn all the skills you need to become a great UI Designer.
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