It’s one of those jobs with an ambiguous yet important sounding title, but when it actually gets explained, it’s not that tricky to understand what these guys do.
What is UX and UI Design?
UX stands for User Experience, and UI stands for User Interface.
At the most basic level, the user interface (UI) is the series of screens, pages, and visual elements—like buttons and icons—that you use to interact with a device.
User experience (UX), on the other hand, is the internal experience that a person has as they interact with every aspect of a company’s products and services. How do they navigate and experience the product.
So if you’re interested in UX/UI design, here are my seven pointers for newbies to get that cursor rolling.
- Know what’s classed as ‘design’
Design is as broad or specific as you want it to be- so try and take a minute to work out where you see yourself in it. Depending on the company you’re working for or the project you’re on, your job description could read one of many things. You could specialise or generalise as any or all of the following and more- a graphic designer, product designer, interaction designer, ux designer, visual designer, etc.
- Bury yourself in design articles
Funnily enough, UX/UI is ALL about THE USER. So while your opinion is just great, it needs to be validated by the behaviours of the users. Just because you like and understand how something works, does not mean that every other person will.
For beginners it’s sometimes hard to remove yourself and your own experience from the equation, and put yourself into the shoes of everyone but yourself. To design for them, you need to think like them. You can never do enough reading and research in the beginning to really help it all click. r.
- Tool up
Pen and paper wireframes are not going to cut it, not even static displays on a computer screen will. There are some incredible and intuitive tools out there to help present your work. Some go-to ones that I and colleagues use are Adobe Illustrator, Balsamiq (great for banging out ideas ‘quick and dirty’) and Proto.io (a real favourite for fully-interactive, high-fidelity prototypes)
- Make mates
As design and what works for someone/everyone/no one can be such a subjective thing, having a few other designers in your little black book will be invaluable for bouncing ideas, worthwhile feedback and helping you look at things from a different angle.
- Look around
Don’t just become an expert in your field, your industry, your role- look at what other designers across the board are working on. You’ll see patterns and insights on ux and visual design that will inspire, energise and better your own work.
- Fake it
Not every project or assignment you’re given allows you to really showcase your full skillset and potential. If you’re trying to a land a new role or internship that requires skills you haven’t really honed IRL you’re going to need fake projects to prove you’ve got what it takes.
Don’t rely on others to build your design portfolio- treat it as another opportunity to show your creativity with interesting fake briefs and solutions across a range of clients and client budgets. Alternatively, scout around for real past campaigns and briefs, then do your take on it. Even better, loop in your skills for business development- find a website or app you think needs a revamp and serve up a high-fidelity mock of your recommendations.
- When your head hurts, read and repeat
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.” -Ira Glass