Table of Contents
- What is UI design?
- How do I get into UI Development?
- What does a UI Designer do?
- Who can become a UI Designer?
- UI Designer Career Path: Pros and Cons of each
- Key Takeaways
If you have been pondering how to become a UI designer, you should face the fact that there is no shortcut or single path you can take to become a UI designer. It is not uncommon to come across people from diverse fields aspiring to become a UI UX designer, rarely realizing the intricacies involved in learning design, coding, and even a bit of psychology before they become UI UX designers.
What is UI design?
The expansion for UI or GUI is Graphical User Interface. A UI designer is a person who is responsible for giving an aesthetic appeal to a computer, mobile, or any digital device screen. A user interface designer’s goal is to make the screen, web page, or product they design easy to navigate and use. A UI designer has to apply the principles of interaction design to accomplish this and must focus on three core aspects:
- The color scheme must be uniform across all screens
- Navigation menus must be located at the same place on all screens (top or bottom)
- The text must be of optimum size and legible enough to read
- There must be a contrast between the text and the background to make it stand out
- The text and image must be relevant to each other
- Use the white space (between text and image) confidently and creatively
To create a successful website or user interface, you must follow design guidelines, answering part of the question “How do I become a UI designer?” Of course, there are many other things like the visibility of your system status, and a system must offer relevant feedback as soon as possible. The best example is the font and background color change when a user clicks on a button. Designers must remember to use symbols and objects related to the real world, like adding a magnifying glass icon to signify a search bar.
How Do I Get into UI Development?
Clients or companies looking to hire a UI developer expect the candidates to have a bachelor’s degree, which is the minimum requirement. The candidates should major in Web Development, Computer Science, Graphic Design, Mobile Computing, Software Engineering, or any related course. So before asking yourself, “How do I become a UI developer?” it is better to find out what qualifications are required to become one.
Although there aren’t any recognized certifications for UI development, you can use your IT certifications to further develop your skills before applying to companies for a UI developer’s position. You may want to select your best work to create and maintain an online portfolio with links, screenshots, testimonials, and other details of projects you’ve worked on earlier.
The US Bureau of Labor forecasts UI developer employment to grow by 13% between 2020 and 2030, significantly much faster than other occupations (which hover at 8%). UI developers are in great demand across multiple industries, but e-commerce is the best destination for those looking for plum jobs with decent pay and perks. UI developers are having a field day with retailers and wholesalers clamoring for space on the Internet frantically seeking to increase their reach in the digital marketplace. Today’s savvy businesspersons know that a friendly user interface is essential for a great shopping experience and are always looking for skilled and qualified UI developers.
What Does a UI Designer Do?
The UI designer is responsible for giving a website a great look and feel. A designer must design a user interface keeping the user’s point of view in mind. However, they may encounter a specific design problem that they must solve by troubleshooting. The ultimate expectation from a UI designer is to create an intuitive interface, which must be easy to follow and be engaging enough to keep the visitors spending more time on the website.
So, instead of asking yourself how to become a UI designer, start asking how to become a good UI designer, and you’ll probably find more valuable answers.
A UI designer needs to work on tasks like:
- Enhancing the look and feel of a website through competitive analysis
- Follow style guides. Sometimes they may have to create their style guides
- Responsible for visual design, including buttons, color palette, and typography
- Create proper animations, interaction design, and relevant prototypes
- Ensure the brand voice is consistent throughout all design elements
- A UI designer is also responsible for all front-end development activities
More importantly, a UI designer must work in tandem with the team, including co-designers, UX designers, art directors, web developers, and the creative director for the project.
Skill Sets Required to Be a Successful UI Designer
Interface designers are known for their key traits, and unless you have essential skills and qualities, there is no point in pursuing a career in UI designing. These key skills and traits include:
- Creativity: Although you cannot learn creativity per se, you must be on your toes all the time and strive to develop new design ideas spontaneously. You must learn to troubleshoot and use innovative ways to solve problems that crop up now and then.
- Pay attention to minute details: As a successful UI designer, it’s important to be detail-oriented and explore granular design issues beyond the canvas.
- Communication: One of the most valuable skills a UI designer should possess is excellent communication skills, which allow them to work in harmony with other teammates.
- Empathizing: By empathizing with users while designing, you design for them instead of yourself. Keeping the users’ experience in mind while designing an interface is crucial.
- Design principles: UI designers need to adhere to the outlined design principles. A website built according to these principles simplifies the browsing process, making it easier to navigate.
Who Can Become a UI Designer?
Did you know that it is not essential to have a degree to become a UI designer? Of course, a background in design would be welcome and an added advantage. However, anyone with an affinity and strong determination can pursue a career in UI design. So, instead of asking yourself if it is worth it to become a UI designer, start searching for information on becoming one. However, when you search for openings, the recruiter always mentions that a degree is required. In reality, there is no academic degree for UI design, as there is no degree that encompasses all aspects of design. You may have a degree in computer science, which helps you attain technical skills, but not necessarily design skills. Similarly, an arts degree does not cover anything technical.
To become a successful UI designer, you will need some skills to complement your degree. Most recruiters expect the candidates to have a bachelor’s degree, but not in UI design, as there is no such degree. There are several successful UI designers with just a High School Diploma, and they are where they are because of sheer hard work and tons of curiosity, and loads of creativity.
The truth is you can teach yourself UI design by adding a few UI design-related skills to your portfolio. While you can teach yourself UI design skills, it may not be as easy as it sounds. It is advisable to enroll in some short-term courses offered by institutes imparting knowledge in such specific areas. That’s the best way to gain first-hand knowledge and experience to launch you on a UI design career.
UI Designer Career Path: Pros and Cons of each
In the true sense of the word, your employment cannot be permanent unless you own a business or have a plum job in a reputable company. While the Pros of a UI designer outweigh the cons, you can’t ignore the cons. Here are the pros and cons of a UI designer career path:
1. Stable and secure
These two terms keep ringing in all job seekers’ ears. That’s probably the biggest advantage of holding a permanent job as a UI designer because you are financially stable, which probably applies to any other job. You know your exact monthly earnings, making it easy to plan your expenses accordingly.
2. The extra perks
As with any other permanent job, a UI designer can expect benefits like medical coverage, life insurance, sick leave, annual leave, gratuity, and pension (depending on the company). It is pretty easy to focus on your job and bring out the creative side, essential in a UI designer position.
3. Manageable pressure
While no job is free of pressure, a permanent UI designer job doesn’t put too much pressure on you from day one. You have enough time to adjust and get your bearings. You gradually get to know the people around you, the work processes, and fall in line. It may take a few weeks or months, and it doesn’t matter.
4. Steady progress
Working with a large corporation or a leading agency as a permanent employee gives you a great chance to grow steadily. You can climb the corporate ladder and reach positions you aspire for, and management levels are reachable for the determined.
5. No skill development
Being in a permanent job does not give enough scope to hone your skills, and they can turn rusty after a while. Unless you are assigned a variety of tasks, you may not learn new skills or stay on top of the latest trends in design. Your job can become repetitive and can result in boredom and lethargy.
6. Internal squabbles
You can’t help but get caught up in internal squabbles that ultimately drag you into office politics. That is the last thing any UI designer would want, as it can affect your profession and career in the long run.
7. Credit to others
Sometimes it happens that all your hard work goes in vain as the credit goes elsewhere. You can’t help it if your superior steals the credit as there’s nothing much you can do about it. The only option is to be submissive and keep doing what you are doing or quit and find another job.
A UI designer job does not require specific qualifications, and a short-term course is more than enough to set on an exciting career. Although there may not be many full-time openings, you can earn more working as a freelancer. The current trend is shopping online, which puts the services of a UI designer in high demand.
Following the above tips should make it easy for a determined person to get launched on a rewarding career as a UIUX designer. It is a job that requires imagination and creativity, but the possibilities are limitless.
To become a UI designer, you can start by learning the fundamentals of UX design. You must strive to develop an eye for good design, for which you have to acquire the right software. You can slowly start building a portfolio of work to share with potential hirers. Ask for feedback from your clients and managers, which can help you learn. You must get real-world experience before you can call yourself a UI designer.
You have to start by learning UX design basics. Next, you can start learning how to use key design tools to work on your projects independently to help you develop your UI UX skills. The last step is applying to UI UX full-time jobs, or you can start working as a freelancer first to gain experience. When you become a UI UX designer of repute, you can start taking projects and work on them yourself without any assistance. Before that, it is advisable to create a portfolio of work samples to showcase your UI UX design work.
To improve your UI UX design skills, you must first practice using design patterns. It is better to invest in your education and earn some degrees. Concentrate on your work and try to implement what you learned theoretically. The best way to improve your design skills is to practice every day. Once you feel comfortable creating designs, you can freelance. In a few freelance gigs, you will gain the confidence to apply for a full-time job, or you can continue working on individual projects.
You must read up a lot. There are several books available on UX design you can buy or borrow from a library. Search for a mentor, and if you are lucky to find one, they will teach you all the tricks of the trade. Join a short-term training course in UI UX design. You can also participate in short webinars online to learn more about UI UX design.
Learning UX design may be challenging, especially if you do not have basic computer proficiency and technical skills. UX or user experience covers the whole gamut of interaction users have with a product or service; hence it is more suitable for people with a programming background.