In this digital era, every successful venture starts with the consumer in mind. Websites and mobile applications are no exception. Unlike in the past, web design has become a very broad field covering several specializations. Developing efficient websites and applications requires that the developing team consider factors like functionality, digital trends, technical aspects, user, and expectations. This is where the terms user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) come in.
A UI/UX expert should know that it takes about 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) for users to form an opinion about a website and this will determine their decision to continue navigating or leave the site. UI/UX design plays a critical role in growing a business’s online presence and increasing its conversions. A good UI/IX design creates a good first impression to win customers’ confidence in using your site or application to get what they are looking for.
UX and UI: The Difference
While there may be overlap between user experience and user interface, let’s first define the two.
UI, an acronym for the user interface is a web design specialization involved with the design and development of features within the customer’s control to improve their interaction with an application or website. In principle, the user should find it easy and effective to navigate a site or an app. Components like buttons, screens, pages, icons, text fields, and toggles make up the user interface.
UI/UX designers’ roles involve learning the users, preempting their needs, and knowing their expectations of an application or website. This helps them see and create designs from the perspective of the users hence detailed research cannot be underestimated.
UX, an acronym for user experience refers to any approach used to enhance the quality of the experience of users as they navigate a website or application. User experience is directly related to customer satisfaction. In other words, the user behavior or sentiments when accessing a site or app. It is important to note that user experience can be positive or negative. Beyond the technical know-how which includes coding, information architecture, and prototyping, a UX designer should also have knowledge of human behavior and be a good communicator and collaborator.
How to become a UI/UX expert
UI/UX design is a constantly evolving and fiercely competitive field. New software, new technology, and innovations keep coming up. Therefore, despite possessing the below requirement, it is important to keep yourself updated with the latest trends in the industry.
- Your educational qualifications
The design field is dynamic. Thus, there are no formal educational qualifications that one should possess to launch a career in this field. UI/UX designers typically have a bachelor’s degree in a technology-related major like graphic design, computer science, game design, fine arts, information technology, and web design. Still, you will find UI/UX designers with backgrounds in marketing, psychology, and project management. This means that you do not need a Bachelor’s degree to get into this field.
Certifications are a great way to demonstrate your UI/UX skills. Also, consider acquiring specific skills by attending UX and UI boot camps. Designers can take as little as six months to learn the in-demand skills required to launch a career in UI/UX design. However, you need to keep learning, gain important skills, and build your experience to become an expert.
- Your skills
User interface and user experience designers possess both tech and soft skills and both of these matter in building expertise.
- Basic coding skills
- Prototyping, wireframing, and creating user flows, and storyboards
- Familiarity with design tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketch, and Quartz
- Teamwork. UI designers work closely with UX designers, other designers, and developers.
- Creativity and innovation
- An eye for color, patterns, and typography
- User empathy
- User research, testing, and experience mapping
- Excellent communication skills
- Your experience
As a beginner, it is important to note that experience does not necessarily come from paid employment.
There are places you can begin with such as local tech events related to design which will not only open you up to opportunities for building your experience but also help you build a strong professional network and update yourself with current happenings in the industry.
Small tasks such as performing usability tests and doing content audits count where you do not have considerable experience.
- Your portfolio
Where experience may be lacking, a great professional portfolio steps up to demonstrate your skills and competencies. If you have opted for certification training or any other learning program, consider one that offers practical training, projects, and exercises that you can use to build your portfolio. Note that most job interviews will require you to have a portfolio to demonstrate your skills.
- Your career path
With some experience, you should be able to define your career path. Depending on your skills and interest, you may opt to advance your career in either UI design, UX design, or both.
A UI designer loves working on the visual components of an app or site while the UX designer is a thinker, analyzer, and organizer who is keen on the streamlined working of a product to give the end-user an experience worth their expectations.
A designer with both UI and UX design expertise can become a UI/UX designer and advance their career in product design.
- Your tool stack
After learning the core skills, building a good portfolio, and gaining some experience, you need to be well versed with the design tools that employers are looking for. Firstly, choose your career path. Next, you need to be aware of the popular tools used in your specialization and those that employers require. Familiarize yourself with using the tools that you have researched to give yourself an edge in the job market.
For instance, as a UI designer, you need to be well versed with tools like Sketch, InVision Studio, Axure RP, and Adobe XD.
There is no doubt that both UI and UX design focus on user satisfaction. While they are closely related, UI design and UX design are different in many ways. UI and UX designers work collaboratively to design intuitive sites that are easily navigable and appealing presentations to enhance user satisfaction which is core to business growth and success.