What is UI Design?

When it comes down to User Interface design (or UI), it is important to see it as a craft. This craft builds a bridge which connects people to the software. This craft also makes communication between the two possible. The main goal of UI design is the effective improvement of the functionality of any digital project. But UI is not all about functionality, it is also about aesthetics and simplicity. So, these factors should interweave smoothly with the process to make people feel drawn to the digital products you helped to create as a UI designer.

An effective UI design is a part of a very important process that links the final product to users. UI comes to play whenever UI designers need to determine how to connect a product to users. Moreover, make them want to perceive this product. So, having extensive knowledge and experience in UI should help to enhance the product’s functionally along with the aesthetic representation.

Read this blog post if you’re about to jump in new shoes and become a UI designer. Learn some useful info about UI design and what online resources you can use to advance knowledge.

What is UI design?

Woman hand drawing with graphics tablet working designer GRINFER

User Interface is defined as the interaction between a man and a machine. This interaction consists of commands, menus, options, etc using which a human can communicate with a machine. UI design has everything to do with the aesthetics and appearance of the product which goes online. UI, as the name suggests, is the face and the best look of an application or a product. The UI design includes all the buttons which users click on, colors, themes, images, every micro-interactions that take place, and other stuff like that.

UI is determined by the ease of usage and user experience. This means the structure and functionality of the interface. UI designers’ job is to make the interface work seamlessly. The same way UI design works for mobile apps. The more user-friendly and appealing an app or product is the chances of retaining users become much higher.

Principles of striking UI design:

Power of visuals. Get the viewer’s attention to what is relevant. This is more crucial rather than distracting them with slightly less useful things. Keep color schemes, font, design, and images in the way so that they would be easy to comprehend. Compel the viewer to “see more” with powerful visuals. Those can work wonders in attracting multiple revisits if designed in the right manner.

Minimalism. Keep it simple because it’s a key in designing, especially for the digital audience. If you offer too many options to users, this can become easily confusing. This can end up staying on the way of easy comprehension and mess up everything that you’re actually offering.

Images for visually appealing content. People are usually compelled by visually appealing content. They like nice pics much better compared to reading lengthy articles. Most users prefer to see content that is easily readable. People like to read quickly rather than having to scroll through text-heavy pages. So, using infographics, vids, images would gain more traction than text.

Consistency and uniformity of content. There must be a consistent color scheme, theme, font, and style throughout your application or product. Just like the law of similarity – whenever you group similar things together, it garners more attention. When you have the elements positioned with consistency, it has a better impact on the visitor’s attention span.

What is the difference between UI and UX design?

Graphic Designer working with interactive pen display Grinfer

UI designers build user interfaces of digital platforms like Websites, mobile applications, smartwatch design, and even voice interfaces. Frankly, the primary goal of any UI designer is to put down the brand value, which helps in building customer trust. Frankly,  UI designers entirely focus on the look of the product they’re working on. One way to enhance the usability is to make it look more appealing by improving the visuals.

UI design comes under the umbrella of UX. This involves an overall analysis of the total experience that users get while testing or utilizing digital products. UX designers also focus on infographics, icons, mnemonics, illustrations, elements, brand guidelines. 

UX designers minimizing action items or services, brand consistency, etc. They analyze how it feels while moving through a product and how the product interacts with users. This is the mental component connected to the visual component. Without great UX the user becomes unengaged regardless of how great your UI design is.

Remember, UX/UI design practices cannot be mastered only by having theoretical knowledge. This is something that should be learned and developed through practice and experience.

What are UI design skills?

A UI designer’s goal is to think like users and not like programmers. So, don’t spend too much of your brain-time trying to figure out how an interface will be coded. You might end up being too tempted to start working on what is easy to code rather than focusing on what will be important to users.

The other important skill that UI designers should have – an ability to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with developers. If you communicate effectively with developers, this will grant you a whole new perspective regarding your design later on.

Working as a UI designer does not require coding, since it’s all concerned with designing the user interface. You must know design concepts including how to handle graphics and typography. Also, having a good eye for new designs that came with a fair amount of imagination and novice approaches to design will help you tremendously.

The immediate step of deliverability after designing UI is converting it to HTML. So, if you’re at the first step, focus hard on UI, then begin coding, design usually comes with creativity and imaginations, while codes will come later with experience.

The harsh truth – whenever companies seek candidates for digital product design jobs, they usually pick somebody who is multi-talented. Basically, UI designers should know how to use such necessary tools for the job like Sketch, Adobe XD, Axure, Photoshop. Don’t forget about mastering HTML and CSS skills because those are the handiest for this job.

How to learn UI design?

work of ui designer in progress

Firstly, try to be involved in each and every aspect of the UI designing process. This is important for having a clear picture of everything that’s going on later on. User interface designing is a process in which you create an interface of digital products like mobile apps, websites, etc. and then analyze how it looks from the point of view of end-users.

Main components that one needs to pay attention to while in the process of learning UI design:

  • Users’ thoughts, emotions, particular demands concerning a product.
  • Set up goals and pain points.
  • User personas.
  • Ideation / Create Multiple possible solutions.
  • Storyboards and scenarios.
  • The prototype of the product.
  • Design the final product UI screens & live prototype (inVision, Adobe XD).
  • Assets Creation for Android, IOS & Web.

No matter what UI classes will tell you, UI design should be fundamentally empathetic and aesthetic. Neither of UI designs can be built successfully without having enough practice and knowledge in related fields. That is why lots of people come out of design school still producing poor quality designs. The same way as many psychologists who come out of college being completely unable to connect with patients.

Learning UI design from reliable online resources is one of the effective ways to get where you want to be. Be aware of concepts, fundamentals,  and words that developers use while discussing projects.

But for even better learning the actual UI design, learn what others are doing and how they approach UI design. Pay attention to particular ways that professional UI designers use to traverse through various stages of design processes. Like what you see? Copy it with your own improvements and reconstitutes. Think deep and try to find answers to such questions like:

  • Why did they make the decisions that they made?
  • Was usability the main reason for doing it?
  • Did they do it because it looks good?
  • Why does it look good?

More tips for mastering UI design:

  • Don’t be afraid of criticizing your work (even brutally). Never stop improving until your work looks polished and you feel like it’s been completely thought out.
  • Read everything you can about psychology, cognitive psychology, neurology, physiology, etc. Remember – you’re creating for humans. In case if you don’t understand humans, your UI design will lack creativity.
  • Read philosophy. For example, read Wittgenstein who used to write about the inherent problems of language. The primary concept of any design is to make a statement. Learn and understand the best approaches for making a statement. Otherwise, if you’ll have many manifold ways which lead to misunderstandings, odds are your UI design will suck.
  • Understand that what you’re trying to work on and create might not coincide with what others might see at the end.
Also, learn about three basic areas because those are important:
  • Responsive web design
  • Android UI Design
  • iOS UI Design

You don’t have to study all of them. You can either explore all three platforms or limit yourself to one. Just make an informed decision based on your own likings. There is extensive documentation on the internet which you can use. For example, Google provides Material guidelines to use while designing a web/android application or page. iOS has its own specs called iOS Human Interface Guidelines. So, go ahead and dig deep into these.

For some good visual examples, look at websites like Dribbble or UpLabs. You can even find work on these sites and study a bunch about how other people designed different interfaces. Most importantly, don’t forget to practice! If you’re a complete newbie, only the real hard work will get you there.

What online resources are useful for learning UI design?

Study user behavior and understand how to manage emotion through your design:

  • productpsychology.com
  • abookapart.com

Become a user of well-designed applications and sites. Seek inspiration that’s eye-catching and relevant to your product. Store things you find interesting. Review it. You can find great examples here:

  • dribbble.com
  • behance.net
  • land-book.com

Get direct feedback through usability testing:

  • fivesecondtest.com
  • usertesting.com

Stay updated with examples and great content to help influence your designs. Subscribe to newsletters about UX and UI design to get tips on great design and see case studies:

  • uxdesignweekly.com
  • hackdesign.org
  • designforhackers.com
  • inspectelement.com

Read blogs and interact with the design community to discover more information about topics that interest you:

  • uxmag.com
  • trydesignlab.com
  • uxbooth.com
  • alistapart.com
  • smashingmagazine.com
  • boxesandarrows.com
  • usabilitygeek.com

Conclusion

While you are in the process of learning how to become a UI designer, try to pay close attention to common problems that Internet users face today. Then think about the best ways you can utilize to resolve those problems with your UI. Don’t omit the importance of communication with the user base while working on any project. Design with empathy, and discover what other people see, hear, and feel. But remember, success doesn’t happen overnight, so continue learning. Set aside an hour or two each day to read content or immerse yourself in a project. Keep on adding to your own already extensive knowledge.

One of the best ways to learn UI design is to follow the best web designers. Expand your UI knowledge and skills on Grinfer with plenty of online courses available on this learning platform. Or try 1-1 consultations on Grinfer to hook up with instructors for getting more insight!

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