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UX/UI Careers Series: UI Designer

career change Jan 24, 2022
UX/UI Careers Series: UI Designer

At Avocademy, we like to think of UI design as UX’s better-dressed cousin. While user experience (UX) designers make a product functional, user interface (UI) designers take things to the next level. They tidy up the design and add color and flair, making the product more enjoyable to use. 

In this article, we’ll give a more in-depth overview of what life is like as a UI designer. We’ll report a typical UI designer salary, go over UI design duties, and list the top skills UI designers need to succeed. 

Grab your favorite hot sauce, because it’s time to spice up your career!


UI Design Outlook

 

How Much Do UI Designers Make? 

Let’s cut to the chase. As a UI designer, you can expect a pretty sturdy salary, even at the entry level. UI Designers earn about $65,000 as a base salary. However, some sources report that UI designers bring in over $84,000 annually 

With a few years of experience, UI designers can go on to earn even more cash. According to Payscale, UI designers with experience can earn $88,000 - $99,000 a year. UI design is an excellent choice if you’re someone who values a career with high-earning potential.

 

Are UI Designers in Demand?

Nearly all UX-related professions, including UI design, are currently in high demand. Sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor have often listed these professions as “hot careers” and “jobs on the rise” over the past few years. 

But don’t take our word for it! A quick job search reveals just how many UI design opportunities are out there. At the time of writing, searching for “UI designer” on LinkedIn and Indeed returned over 22,000 openings combined. That’s a lot of guac! 

 

What Does a UI Designer Do? 

So, what exactly does UI design entail? 

UI designers are responsible for the later, high-fidelity stages of the UX design process.  UI designers take design blueprints and bring them to life with color, typography, spacing, and more. While UX designers might create the structure and navigation of a website or app, UI designers perfect these elements visually.

If you’re a newcomer to the world of UX design, these distinctions can get pretty confusing. Check out this article from The Guac about the difference between UX and UI to learn more! It may also help to explore the UX design process to see how visual elements like colors and images play a role near the end of a project. 

Still wondering what UI designers do all day? Here is a breakdown of their typical responsibilities:

 

UI Designer Responsibilities

 

Build and Maintain Style Guides

A style guide is a set of parameters that designers use to ensure the visual elements of their projects remain consistent. Style guides include typography details, like font sizes and weights, as well as color HEX codes, iconography guidelines, and microscopic design details like how rounded the corners of buttons should be. 

UI designers are often responsible for making these stylistic “rules” and ensuring the design adheres to them throughout each screen. UI designers know how to wield style guides as a tool for good, making designs more harmonious, attractive, and distraction-free.  

 

Visual Design

Basically, UI designers decide what goes where on a page. They use information gathered by research and, in collaboration with their UX counterparts, make decisions about how to arrange the elements on a screen as effectively as possible. 

With the layout in place, UI designers polish the visual design to improve the product’s overall appeal. This might include adjusting the shape and color of elements to make them more playful and bright, or adding images that help communicate the brand’s personality. 

 

Interaction Design

Interaction design involves perfecting specific instances where users engage with a product, such as tapping a button or entering text in an input field. UI designers often work to make these interactions as smooth as possible. They might create loading animations or choose brighter colors to show when an item is selected.

All of these subtle changes communicate to the user that something is happening on the screen or that their input has been received. By improving these interactions, UI designers can make navigating an interface straightforward and even delightful. 

 

Prototyping

A key part of the UX process is testing designs and improving them based on user feedback. UI designers are highly involved in this stage, often collaborating with UX designers to build clickable prototypes. 

Creating a high-fidelity prototype allows UI designers to accurately simulate the final product and evaluate its success. Testing lets UI designers find mistakes and make finishing touches before the product goes off for development. 

 

Should I Become a UI Designer? 

If the duties and responsibilities above sound exciting, UI design may be an excellent career path for you. Here are just a few more benefits of pursuing a UI design career:

 

Perks of Being a UI Designer

 

  • Creative Work  — UI designers get the lucky opportunity to embrace their creative side. In this line of work, there’s no shortage of ways you explore new trends, experiment with color, and put your eye for style to work. 

  

  • Collaborative Environment — If you like getting creative with others, you’re in luck. UI designers frequently work alongside many like-minded professionals, including UX designers, project managers, developers, writers, and more. 

  

  • Variety — UI designers often get to dabble in all parts of the UX process. While you may spend most of your time perfecting pixels, you may also get to assist with user research, wireframing, and even some front-end development.

Of course, you’ll also enjoy the general benefits that all UX professions boast, including a high salary and the chance to work remotely

 

UI Design Skills

Anyone can become a UI designer. You don’t need a specific degree or special tech background to transition to this field— all you need is a little practice and some projects to put in your portfolio.

However, there are a few characteristics and soft skills that may set you up for success as a UI designer. You’ll most likely thrive in this role if you possess a few of these qualities: 

 

Empathy

UI designers work to elicit the right emotions from their user. As such, UI professionals need a strong sense of empathy for users’ likes, dislikes, needs, and pain points. 

 

An Eye for Details 

For UI designers, the devil is in the details. As masters of the high fidelity stages, UI designers are responsible for getting screens as “pixel-perfect” as possible. They often finalize products before passing the torch to the development team, so it’s especially important for UI designers to have small details buttoned up before coding begins in earnest. 

If you’re someone who relishes the editorial process and is a naturally organized person, you’ll feel right at home in UI design. 

 

Collaboration Skills

You’ll thrive as a UI designer if you enjoy collaborating with others. In this creative, problem-solving field, collaborating also means accepting criticism from time to time. If you’re prepared to give and take helpful feedback to improve your designs, you already have what it takes to be a valued UI team member. 

 

Data-Backed Decision Making

Finally, UI designers need to be able to clearly articulate the reasons behind their design choices. While UI designers do enjoy creative freedom, they still have to make design choices based on user needs and design best practices.

In visual design professions, it’s common to face pushback for choices that seem subjective, such as color schemes and iconography. UI designers have to be ready to support their design choices with data-based justifications, such as, “we moved away from the orange title font because 60% of test users had trouble reading it.” Far from a profession based on flimsy aesthetic preferences, user interface design is a data-based practice for improving products. 

 

Become a UI Designer with Avocademy

Ready to become a pixel-savvy UI wizard? Our mentors at Avocademy would love to help you flourish! Consider scheduling a free mentorship call to learn how we help folks like you build dream careers in UX/UI.

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