What Does a UI UX Designer Do

What Does a UI/UX Designer Do? [2024 Guide]

Think of the last time you were frustrated or disappointed by a website or an app. What didn't you like about it? Was it hard to find what you were looking for? Did it glitch or time out? Did you have a hard time moving between pages? 

Now, think about your own response. You probably clicked away and decided never to use that site again, right? 

Whether you have a good experience or a bad one on a website or app largely depends on the work of two very important professionals: UI and UX designers. These two connected but different disciplines are all about creating products and services that people love to use. 

UI/UX design is important for one simple reason: when users find a product or service easy and enjoyable to use, they're more likely to keep using it. This can lead to increased sales, brand loyalty, and customer satisfaction.

Good UI and UX can help users complete tasks quickly and easily, which can save them time and effort. By preventing errors and frustration, good UI and UX can help businesses save money on customer support and development costs.

It may not seem like UI and UX matters when they're good, but bad UI/UX design can sink an entire business. Do you remember how quickly you clicked away from your last bad experience? That's why companies are eager to hire top UI/UX designers all across the country - and with a little training, you could be one of them! 

Working in UI/UX design requires skill, patience, research, and solid strategic as well as design thinking. In this article, we'll explain what UX and UI designers do, how the two differ from each other, key responsibilities and skills, salary insights, and more. 

Is UI the Same As UX?

First things first: is UX and UI the same thing? Many people use the terms interchangeably, and while they are closely related, there are some differences between the two. 

UI (User Interface) is all about the look and feel of a product or service. It's the visual language that users interact with, and it should be both aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. UX (User Experience) is the broader concept of how a user feels when interacting with a product or service. It encompasses everything from the initial impression to the final outcome, and it should be positive, efficient, and enjoyable. 

Despite these differences, one can't exist without the other. UI can produce a beautiful website, but without solid UX, it will be little more than a pretty facade with poor functionality. Great UX will ensure the interface of your site works well, but it won't capture anyone's attention or imagination. 

Both UI and UX have the same end goal: creating a positive and engaging user experience. They both want users to find interacting with a product or service to be easy, efficient, and enjoyable. Both fields place the user at the center of their design process. They prioritize understanding user needs, behaviors, and pain points to create solutions that effectively address them.

UI and UX professionals often work hand-in-hand throughout the design process. UX research informs UI decisions, while UI decisions can impact the overall experience.

What Is a UX Designer, and What Does a UX Designer Do?

A UX designer - or user experience designer - has one objective in mind: making interacting with products, websites, and apps as smooth, efficient, and enjoyable as possible for their users. They conduct research (like interviews and surveys) to create user personas and understand what user goals and pain points are. Once they have a clear idea of what users' needs, wants, and frustrations are, they build mockups and low-fidelity models of the final product to test and iterate ideas before they are developed by the product team. 

While they aren't the only ones responsible for the look and feel of a product or site, they understand how visual elements like layout, color, and typography impact user experience and make sure that designers are briefed accordingly. 

UX designers are also responsible for the information architecture of a site or app, structuring content and functionality in a way that makes sense and helps users find what they need quickly. They make sure every click, tap, and swipe (user interactions) feels natural and intuitive.

UX design isn't just about fancy interfaces; it's about making technology intuitive and enriching people's lives. They also ensure that websites and apps are accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. 

What Is a UI Designer, and What Does a UI Designer Do?

A UI designer or user interface designer takes the complex functionalities of websites and apps and turns them into visually engaging experiences. UI designers make sure that the interface designed by the UX and product team aligns with the brand's identity and remains visually consistent. 

Working closely with UX designers and developers, they will build mockups and prototypes to showcase how the interface will look and function and ensure that there is a good balance between aesthetics and functionality. 

A UI designer may spend their working day sketching out ideas, creating mood boards, bringing design concepts to life, and choosing fonts, colors, and imagery that create a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing interface. They also work closely with users to iterate on their designs based on feedback. 

Salary Insights and Career Outlook for UI/UX Designers

While these job descriptions may sound tempting, it's always important to consider the general job outlook and compensation before choosing or switching careers.

Current Salary Trends

The good news is that salaries are increasing for both UX and UI designers. A mid-level UI designer can earn around $100,000 per year, whereas a UX designer will earn around $115,000 per annum.

Comparison: UX vs. UI Design Salaries

UX designers earn slightly more than UI designers. The average salary for a UX Designer in the US is $115,743 per year, while the average salary of a UI Designer is $91,869 per year. Of course, salaries are dependent on factors like your seniority, experience level, employer, and location. 

Future Job Market Projections

The job outlook for both fields is generally very rosy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects YoY growth of around 3% through 2028 for UI and UX designers. According to some stats, UI/UX design projects have more than 21,000 employment opportunities, but this will grow by 23% by 2031. 

UI/UX Designer Job Description: What Are Companies Looking For?

Virtually all companies need websites and applications, which is why virtually all companies need the services of a UI/UX designer. This is a dynamic field, and no two roles are alike, but there are a few core responsibilities and skills every UI/UX designer shares:

Core Responsibilities

As a UI/UX designer, you have to bridge the gap between what a user needs and wants and visual expression. This means you'll have diverse responsibilities that require a fine balance, including: 

  • User research and analysis: Understanding user demographics, behaviors, and pain points through surveys, interviews, and usability testing.

  • Information architecture and wireframing: Defining the content structure and user flow, laying the foundation for a logical and intuitive navigation experience.

  • UI design: Crafting the visual language of the interface, including color palettes, typography, layout, and iconography.

  • Prototyping and iteration: Bringing designs to life through low-fidelity and high-fidelity prototypes, constantly refining based on user feedback.

  • Collaboration and communication: Working closely with developers, product managers, and stakeholders to ensure alignment with technical feasibility and overall project goals.

  • Accessibility considerations: Building interfaces that are inclusive and usable for everyone, regardless of abilities or limitations.

Essential Qualifications

You'll need a mix of hard and soft skills to work as a UI/UX designer. You'll also need technical skills as well as creative aptitude. 

To work in the field, you'll need to master design tools like Figma, Sketch, and Adobe XD, and prototyping software like InVision or Framer, as well as visual design principles like color theory, typography, layout, and composition.

You'll also need to conduct user research, analyze the data, and translate those insights into actionable design decisions. Because both UI and UX designers work with users as well as different teams, you'll need excellent written and verbal communication skills and a creative approach to tackling design challenges and finding innovative solutions to user needs.

Desirable Traits and Skills

While you will need to build your technical skills to work in the field, UI/UX is a human-centric business. You'll need people skills if you want to really excel in the industry. 

The most important trait you need to have is empathy. A good UI/UX designer sees the world through the user's eyes and understands and anticipates what they need. 

You'll also need strong attention to detail, a desire for knowledge and staying ahead of design trends, and excellent communication and collaboration skills. 

Key Skills of a UI/UX Designer

Let's take a look at some of the key skills employers are looking for in a UI/UX designer:

Hard Skills

Hard skills are specific, teachable abilities or knowledge sets that are easily quantifiable. They are typically acquired through education, training programs, or on-the-job experience. If you are interested in pursuing this career, you'll need to master:

Technical Tools and Techniques

Make sure that you are proficient in tools like Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, XD), as well as Sketch, Figma, and other design software tools. You'll also be required to create interactive prototypes using InVision, Axure, Proto.io, Framer, and others. You may also need to work on HTML/CSS Basics and user research techniques. 

In the modern design world, knowledge of responsive design, motion design, and design systems will be key. 

Advanced Design Concepts

If you are training to become a UI/UX designer, you will need to master advanced design concepts, including information architecture, color theory, and typography. Information architecture is all about creating a logical and well-organized structure for your content. Typography is about communicating information in a readable and effective way, while color theory ensures that color is used to communicate emotions and messages more effectively in design. 

Soft Skills

Soft skills are interpersonal, non-technical attributes that contribute to a person's effectiveness in the workplace and their ability to work well with others. These skills are more difficult to quantify compared to hard skills, but they play a crucial role in your professional success. 

As a UI/UX designer, you'll need soft skills like:

Communication and Collaboration

You'll need to communicate design concepts effectively and work with cross-functional teams, like developers and product managers. You'll also need to speak to customers while you are testing various concepts. This means that you have to be open to feedback and adapt your designs based on user testing and project requirements.

Problem-Solving and Creativity

UI/UX is a creative science. You need to apply creative thinking to design challenges so that you can improve user interactions all the time. You also need to pay close attention to the many small details that impact the overall user experience and to manage your time effectively across various project deadlines. 

Comprehensive Overview of UI/UX Designer Job Roles

We've already said that there are many different roles within UI/UX, including specialist roles. Many roles even blur the lines between UI and UX altogether. 

Standard UI/UX Roles

UI/UX designers typically have to perform tasks like wireframing, prototyping, and creating visually compelling designs. They have to make sure that the user interface is not only visually appealing but also intuitive and user-friendly. These designers play a crucial role in the entire product development lifecycle, from conceptualization to implementation, collaborating closely with developers, product managers, and other stakeholders. Standard UI/UX job titles include UI/UX designer, visual designer, interaction designer, UX researcher, etc. 

Niche Specializations

Specializations can range from interaction design and information architecture to motion design and accessibility. Interaction designers focus on enhancing user interactions, information architects structure content logically, motion designers add dynamic elements, and accessibility specialists ensure inclusivity for users with diverse needs. These niche specializations contribute to a more nuanced and targeted approach to design challenges. Titles might include motion designer, VR/AR designer, accessibility designer, conversational UI/UX designer, and many more. 

Cross-Functional Collaboration

Many designers specialize in both UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) design, and they are commonly referred to as UI/UX designers. In fact, the combined role of UI/UX designer is quite common in the design industry. This type of designer is responsible for both the visual aspects of a digital product (UI) and ensuring a positive and effective overall user experience (UX). Others work in a cross-functional and collaborative way, working closely with developers, product managers, marketers, and other stakeholders to align design decisions with business goals.

Responsibilities Across Different Career Stages

No UI/UX designer stays stagnant - you'll grow and assume more responsibilities over time. Here's what you can expect as a UI/UX designer at different stages of your career. 

Junior Designers: Learning and Support

A junior designer's primary focus is on learning and gaining practical experience. Responsibilities include acquiring foundational design skills through hands-on projects and mentorship. They assist senior team members, execute design tasks under guidance, actively incorporate feedback, and contribute to project coordination, fostering a continuous learning mindset.

Mid-Level Designers: Specialization and Leadership

Mid-level designers specialize in specific areas and take on leadership roles. Responsibilities at this stage encompass choosing a specialization, such as UI/UX or visual design, and honing expertise in that area. Mid-level designers also engage in project leadership, oversee the design process, mentor junior designers, make substantial design contributions, and interact with clients to ensure alignment with project objectives.

Senior Designers: Strategy and Innovation

At the senior level, designers play a strategic role, contributing to the overall direction of projects and driving innovation in design practices. Senior designers contribute to design strategy, lead innovation initiatives, collaborate across departments, provide mentorship to designers at different levels, manage client relationships, and engage in thought leadership within the design community. Their responsibilities reflect a focus on strategic thinking, innovation, and leadership, demonstrating their accumulated skills and experience in the dynamic field of design.

FAQs: Addressing Common Queries in UI/UX Design

What Are Common Entry Paths Into a Career in UI/UX Design?

Many professionals start with a relevant degree in design, human-computer interaction, or a related field, but you can also use self-learning or online boot camps to get the experience you need. 

Is a Design Degree Necessary To Become a UI/UX Designer?

It's not the only way! Practical skills, a strong portfolio, and an understanding of user-centered design principles are just as important. 

What Holds More Weight in the UI/UX Industry, a Degree or Practical Experience?

Both are important, but the industry places a significant emphasis on practical experience and a strong portfolio. Employers often value hands-on skills, problem-solving abilities, and real-world projects. A combination of a relevant degree and practical experience is often considered ideal.

Can I Transition to UI/UX Design Without a Formal Design Education?

Yes, many UI/UX designers have successfully transitioned from other fields or self-taught backgrounds. Building a strong portfolio showcasing your skills, engaging in real projects, and staying updated on industry trends are crucial steps in making a successful transition.

How Do Emerging Technologies Impact the Future of UI/UX Design?

Emerging technologies, such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI), are shaping the future of UI/UX design. Designers will need to adapt to new interaction paradigms and focus on creating seamless experiences across a variety of platforms and devices.

What Trends Can We Expect in the Future of UI/UX Design?

The future of UI/UX design is likely to include trends like increased personalization, voice interfaces, and a stronger emphasis on accessibility and inclusivity. 

Wrapping Up

UI/UX design is not merely about creating visually appealing interfaces; it's about crafting experiences that captivate and enrich users' lives.

UX designers, with their user-centric approach, delve into research, creating personas, and crafting prototypes to create the perfect experience for users. UI designers transform complex functionalities into visually captivating interfaces. 

This role has become extremely important - and lucrative - with salaries on the rise and a positive job market projection. 

If you want to succeed, you have to have the right blend of hard and soft skills, including being proficient in design tools and being an excellent communicator. 

Are you ready to enter the field? Find out how to become a UI/UX designer - even with no experience - with our handy guide. You can also read an objective review about the best boot camps for becoming a UI/UI designer.