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UI or UX design: what’s the best fit for your career?

Are you interested in starting a career in digital design? Hoping to find an answer what would be the best area to apply your skills: UI or UX design? If so, then this post is for you.


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Kseniia Lebedeva

a year ago | 4 min read

Are you interested in starting a career in digital design? Hoping to find an answer what would be the best area to apply your skills: UI or UX design? If so, then this post is for you.

Digital design is a rapidly growing industry. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for web developers and digital designers in US was $77,200 in May 2020. Also, the bureau predicts that “the job outlook for web developers and digital designers is expected to grow 13% from 2020–2030.” This means that the demand and market for digital designers are increasing, as well as their salaries.

The question is, how do you become a UX or UI designer? I’ve noticed that many UI/UX designers don’t specialize in digital. It might just take one or two skills from the required skill set to land your first job. So what skills or backgrounds will help you land your first job in digital design?

3 backgrounds that will help you land your first UI designer job

  1. Graphic design background

UI is about visual design. All elements that you see on a screen: buttons, modal windows, etc, this is what the UI designer is responsible for. UI designers identify page layout, elements usage, and hierarchy. If you have graphic design experience, it will be quite easy for you to get on board, because that means that you are already familiar with visual design principles: such as typography, grids, and color theory.

2. Interaction design background

To get user feedback at the early stages, it is always beneficial to test designs with the users before passing them into development. The UI designer is responsible for creating an interactive prototype that will be tested by the researcher or UX designer. The UI designer might need to iterate until the flow is polished, based on the user’s feedback. You’d be an awesome fit if you had any experience working with different scenarios.

3. Front-end coding background

Once the designs are polished, they need to be handed over to developers for implementation. Ideally, UI designers should provide pixel-perfect design with specifications that explain spacings and component behavior in greater detail. It’s always a big plus if a UI designer has at least superficial knowledge of frontend development because it helps to provide easy-to-develop designs and to find a common language with developers. As a front-end developer, your technical background will be very useful, since designers need to consider technical constraints, ease of solution development, and speed.

3 skills that can make you an ideal candidate for a UX designer role

  1. Research skills

UX stands for user experience. The main goal for UX designers is to make the user’s interaction as efficient and simple as possible. Understanding users is the most critical part of UX design. Finding out why users are experiencing problems through research is an efficient method. There are two ways to categorize research: who conducts the research and the type of data collected. Designers can conduct their own research, such as interviews or surveys, or they can compile findings gathered by others. There are two types of data: qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative stands for non-numerical data and quantitative for numerical data. Both types are necessary to understand the nature of the problem and avoid unsupported assumptions. In other words, if you’re a researcher, you’d be a perfect fit, since it’s one of the key skills you need for UX design success.

2. Storytelling and writing skills

UX designer is a problem solver and an excellent storyteller. In order to understand better the person, the flow, and the reasons why the problem occurred, he put himself in the shoes of the user. He is replaying different scenarios over and over in his head to be able to empathize with the user and find the root of the problem. So if you have writing skills, it would be easy for you to picture a user and create a storyboard. Sometimes UX designers are asked to help with the copy if the company doesn’t have a copywriter. Wording plays an important role: it’s about a brand’s tone of voice and for you as an author, it would be an easy job.

3. Analytical skills

UX designers mainly focus on problem-solving and user satisfaction: how quickly and easily a user reaches his goal within the app or website. Even when the product is live, the work isn’t done because the market and demand are constantly changing. To improve user experience, UX designers need to constantly monitor data, analyze statistics, and find solutions.

Conclusion

You're more likely to be hired if your background matches the designer role you want. Companies are always looking for employees with different backgrounds to build diverse teams, and you just need to make them believe you're the one. Demonstrating your existing abilities can help you stand out from the crowd.

Have trouble deciding which area is best for you still? Try to work in a startup, whereas as a generalist designer, you will have a broader scope of work. Usually, generalists handle all aspects of digital design, so be ready to handle many tasks at once. It’s a good opportunity for beginners, who haven’t decided on the area of focus and want to try everything before becoming focused on the particular area.

If you have any further questions, feel free to ask in the comments section below. If you would like to contact me directly, please email lexeniya@icloud.com or reach out on LinkedIn.

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Kseniia Lebedeva

Product Designer & Instant noodles lover


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