How to become a UI designer or UX designer

If you’re looking to start a career as a designer, you”ll quickly be overwhelmed by the number of titles thrown around. There are user experience (UX) designers, user interface (UI) designers, motion designers, product designers, graphic designers and so on. 

However, should you choose to become either a UI designer or UX designer, the following infographic by design service Zillion Designs provides a comparison between the two creative professions.

As most UI/UX designers may tell you, there is no prescribed path to becoming one. Some designers may start with degrees in arts, some in architecture, and others from completely different professions. And like most things, there’s no guaranteeing instant success either.

UI vs UX design

These terms are often misunderstood by both designers and those outside the industry. So, the first thing to know before starting a career as either a UI designer or UX designer is that there’s a difference between the two.

A user interface designer decides the right interface elements, such as text fields, buttons, check boxes and drop-down lists. These elements create the tangible interfaces that users can readily understand and easily use. In smaller companies, a UI designer may designer the entire process from user flows to mockups; In larger companies, they’re likely to specialize more in defining the layout of an app or website using wireframes.

User experience, on the other hand, is all about enhancing user satisfaction and designing the complete user experience. UX requests a solid understanding of sociology, psychology, as well as design to identify and address the real user problems. Also it requires tactical skills, including concept iteration, user research, prototyping and usability testing. One of the most critical skills for UX designers is communication.

Whichever direction you choose to go with your design career, it’s always a plus to know how the other works. Take a look at how UI/UX compare at a glance in the infographic below:

Infographic: A comprehensive guide on how to become a UI designer or a UX designer

A comprehensive guide on how to become a UI/UX designer

The average salary for a UI designer in the United States is $61,000 per year. A UX designer, however, makes an average of US$73,163.

90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. And 97% of websites fail to grasp the idea of UX design. That means that developers spend half of their time fixing avoidable issues due to failure to incorporate UI/UX concepts.

Skills required

A UI designer needs to have a good eye for beauty. They should be knowledgable about interaction principles and understand front-end software tools.

A UX designer should be curious about human psychology. They need an understanding of user transactions and have a focus on labels and patterns.

To get ready for a career as either a UI designer or UX designer, get yourself educated. Look for articles that offer advice on coding and development. Or get in touch with professionals who have five or more years experience; you can join a UI/UX community to interact with them. A few websites to browse are:

Essential tools for UI/UX design

Here are some programming languages that you should know before you start your new career:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JQuery
  • XML

Learn more about becoming a UI designer and UX designer

There are a few books that might help you gain a better understanding or UI/UX design. Check them out:

  • A Project Guide to UX design by Russ Unger and Carolyn Chandler
  • The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman
  • Observing the User Experience by Elizabeth Goodman, Mike Kuniavsky and Andrea Moed
  • Designing Interfaces by Jenifer Tidwell

Set your own pace with online learning. These courses are dedicated to give you the best education outside of university:

You can also head over to YouTube and watch tutorials, such as:

  • Tuts+ Premium
  • Fundamentals of UX design
  • Peach Pit
  • Project Guide to UX Design