What does a UX/UI designer do?
As a UX/UI designer, you understand that user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design are more than pixel-pushing and making things look pretty. They’re about understanding why something is on a screen or paper, translating ideas into visual forms, and considering user needs, wants, and expectations.
Subsequently, experienced designers are more than just people who make things look good; they understand why they're putting something down on a screen or piece of paper. In short, design is about creating user-friendly, intuitive, functional, and inclusive products for everyone involved in the project.
Before we get into how to improve your UX and UI design skills, let’s briefly cover what the two processes are and how they are related:
- UX (user experience) design is the process of planning the experience someone will have when they interact with your product.
- UI (user interface) design, on the other hand, uses a customer-centric approach when designing the aesthetics of your digital product (website, mobile app, etc.). The main goal is to make your website or application look and feel appealing. The interface of an application is its graphical layout. It is important that these interfaces are both functional and visually appealing.
So, a UX designer, also known as a user experience designer, is essential in the design industry. They focus not only on UX design but often overlap with UI design, ensuring that digital products and services provide an optimal user experience. If a user encounters difficulties with a product or navigating a website, the UX designer, often with skills in graphic design and interaction design, steps in. Their role is to address these issues, enhancing the site's usability and overall user enjoyment. In the design of a product, a UX designer must be versatile, engaging in various aspects of the design process, from research and ideation to prototyping, wireframes, user testing, and implementation. Their work often involves developing a comprehensive UX design portfolio, showcasing their proficiency in both UX and UI design.
Achieving the goal of creating intuitive and accessible products requires more than just an eye for design; effective communication is vital. This is a key component in UX writing and forms a significant part of the design process. Storytelling and visual design play a crucial role in connecting with the audience emotionally.
UX designers, who often function as part of a design team, must work with various design tools and adhere to the basic principles of design. This approach is critical in both web design and product design, ensuring that UX design focuses on user needs. Aspiring designers who want to become a UX designer should note that the role involves making informed design decisions based on user feedback and data. In the ever-evolving job market of the UX design industry, a designer must continuously develop their UX design skills and be ready to adapt to new challenges in both development and design. So what do you need to keep in mind when designing? Here are five essential tips to help you master UI and UX design:
1) Effective Communication for UX/UI Designers
The most fundamental UX tip for a UX/UI designer is prioritizing open communication among all stakeholders. Effective communication is essential in UX design, a field that demands collaboration between team members, clients, and other stakeholders. Empathy is key to understanding the user’s perspective, a vital aspect of the design and usability process in a UX designer's role.
In this collaborative process, listening to feedback helps to gain an accurate perspective of your product. This approach is a fundamental part of design thinking, crucial for making informed design decisions. Open communication reveals how users perceive your products on both a visual and functional level, guiding the UX designer to create solutions that resonate with users.
Understanding user feedback is vital, whether you're a graphic designer, visual designer, or web designer, as it reveals what works and what doesn’t. This insight allows for necessary adjustments to better meet user needs, a crucial aspect of a UX design career.
2) User-Centric UI/UX Design: Keeping the User in Mind
Know when it's time to fight for your idea versus backing off if necessary in UI/UX design – this balanced approach ensures users get the best experience possible from interacting with your product. As a UX designer, your goal should always be to create technology that feels natural and intuitive. This is achieved through rigorous usability testing, a key component of UX design that occurs throughout the development stages of a design project. By embracing design thinking, you can effectively navigate the type of design decisions that make your product user-friendly and efficient.
3) Be prepared and have research ready:
Before presenting any UI/UX design project to stakeholders, conduct thorough research upfront regarding potential solutions you've explored, decisions made along the way, and issues encountered during implementation. This approach, a fundamental aspect of design thinking, ensures that every component of the design has been meticulously considered. Stakeholders will be more confident knowing every step of the UX design process has been thought through before presentation/delivery, which ultimately increases trust amongst all parties involved.
4) Tap into your creative side:
Creativity is a key skill for any UX designer, essential in both UX and UI design. Natural creative talent is just a starting point; it's crucial to continually work on enhancing this skill. Engaging in activities like drawing, doodling, non-dominant handwriting, reading, running, and trying new experiences can awaken different parts of the brain and infuse new perspectives into your work. These activities help in developing a comprehensive approach to design thinking, enabling you to better apply the principles of digital design in your UI and UX design processes. However, it's important to strike a balance. Overhauling a design completely isn't always necessary, especially when there are opportunities for optimization. As a UI designer, it's important to remain professional and adhere to established design standards, ensuring that creativity is used to improve functionality rather than overshadow it.
5) Be professional:
Stay true to your core values by listening to others' opinions without trying to educate. Ensure you listen to the client and provide an open and honest voice. Above all, respect each other. UX/UI design is a complex but rewarding process. It requires thinking outside the box, staying organised, and maintaining a healthy balance between creativity and professionalism. By following these tips and striving to create the best user experience possible, UX/UI designers can create effective and successful products.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published on 20 February 2023, and was updated on 11 January 2024