UI (User Interface) designers are responsible for designing the interface through which a user interacts with a product. Typically this refers to a website or app screen, a computer desktop, or the digital interface of another product (such as an ATM). The Interaction Design Foundation defines UI design as “the process designers use to build interfaces in software or computerized devices, focusing on looks or style.” They also add that “Designers aim to create interfaces which users find easy to use and pleasurable.” It’s worth noting that the terms UX (User Experience) and UI are often used interchangeably, and some companies will look for a “UX/UI Designer” when hiring. While there are differences between these two fields, there is also some significant overlap in their focus. However, unlike “UX designer”, which is a relatively new job title, the title of “UI designer” has been around for quite some time. Google Trends shows us a clear growth in searches for “UX designer” over time, while searches for “UI designer” have remained more steady.
What Are the Roles and Responsibilities of a UI Designer?
While UI designers consider the UX of a design when creating a product, they may also focus on other factors such as visual impact, gamification, and brand values. Like graphic designers, the main goal of UI designers is to create an attractive design. Here are some of the principal responsibilities of UI designers:
1. Understanding User Requirements
A UI designer begins the design process by evaluating the requirements of the project. They do this by communicating with stakeholders within the company, and also by understanding user requirements. The key to understanding user requirements is performing user research. This means connecting with potential users through methods such as surveys, interviews, and focus groups. A UI designer may do these tasks themselves, or they may collaborate with a UX designer or UX researcher who manages the process.
2. Creating Design Prototypes
The next step in UI design is to create prototypes for the user interface. These may include wireframes, storyboards, or user flows. A wireframe is a visual representation of a web page or app screen, while a user flow is a series of wireframes that shows how a user navigates through a website or app. A storyboard is a more detailed visual (similar to a comic) that shows how a user interacts with the product.
3. Creating Graphic Interfaces
Finally, the UI designer needs to create graphic designs to help build the user interface. They may be responsible for designing specific elements on a page, such as menus or widgets. UI designers need to have a good eye for details (such as fonts and colors) to construct an aesthetically-appealing design.
What Are the Skills Needed to Be a UI Designer?
UI designers need both hard skills (technical abilities) and soft skills (collaboration abilities). Some technical skills UI designers might need are:
- Knowledge of design and interactive best practices
- Proficiency in industry-standard design software, such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator
- An understanding of wireframing and prototyping
- Front-end coding skills or knowledge of markup languages (i.e. HTML/CSS)
Some soft skills UI designers might need are:
- The ability to communicate with stakeholders
- Good project management skills on deliverables
- A “thick skin” and ability to take constructive criticism
What Are the Most Popular Skills Needed by a UI Designer?
Every organization may have its own specific requirements for a UI designer, depending on the type of product they’re building and how the organization is structured. That being said, we had a look at job postings for UI designers worldwide to see what skills most companies are asking for. Here are some of the most common requirements:
Software: Sketch, Figma, Adobe Creative Suite, InVision
Soft skills: Positive attitude, team player, organizational skills
How Are UI Designers Part of the Product and Design Teams?
UI designers are typically part of a team, often working alongside product designers and UX researchers.
So where does a UI designer fit into a company’s org chart? It depends. Some UI designers work as a standalone designer or consultant, others are part of a UX/UI design team, and still, others work as part of the product team. The number of designers a company will hire depends on their budget and requirements.
UI Designer Job Description Template
If you’re thinking of hiring a UI designer, you may be wondering what a job description for this position should look like. Below, we’ve created a template you can use in your own hiring. Please copy this template and customize it for your needs.
Here at (Company), we’re proud to have created a number of award-winning software products, such as (product), (product), (product), and (product). These industry-leading solutions allow our customers to (results). Our products support (X amount of) users worldwide. An important part of our company culture is (X). Our office is located in (X, or remote), and we offer perks such as (X, Y, and Z).
We are searching for a creative and enterprising UI Designer to join our team at (Company). In this role, you’ll be working on the user interfaces of (X product) and (Y product). The ideal candidate will be passionate about creating interfaces that are usable, attractive, and accessible.
As a UI designer, you’ll be an important member of our Design and User Experience team. You’ll report to our Creative Director, and will work closely with our developers and product managers.
- Collaborate with engineers, UX researchers, and other key stakeholders
- Create designs based on demonstrated user needs
- Adhere to design best practices
- Use your creative skills to build aesthetically-pleasing user interfaces
- Accept and implement feedback from other team members
- Add other relevant responsibilities here
Skills and Qualifications
- 3-5 years of experience working as a UI designer, or equivalent
- A professional portfolio showing a variety of well-executed UI design work
- Proficiency in Adobe Creative Suite, Sketch, Principle, Figma, (insert other relevant software)
- Experience in creating design prototypes and documentation such as wireframes, user flows, user journeys, etc.
- Understanding of how UI design should be informed by user experience
- Understanding of accessibility best practices
- Proactivity and self-direction
- Communication skills, and ability to work as part of a team
- Visual design skills, including a proven understanding of design fundamentals
- Education in digital design, graphic design, UI design, or a related subject
- Add other skills and qualifications as needed