User Experience Design and User Interface Design, commonly referred to as UX/UI Design, is a booming and thriving field currently. With technology growing and evolving every day, UX Design is becoming a coveted and an in-demand skill many companies look for in candidates. Businesses have realised the value of a designer (or a design team) to their company, which in turn is leading to multiple people jumping careers to UX design. So, if you are also one of them, let’s first understand what it’s about and then suggest ways to get into the field. Sounds good? Let’s get to it.
UX and UI Design – What is it?
Before getting into the deeper details, let’s clear up the main thing. The definition of UX and UI Design. These two terms always lead to confusion among people and are sometimes used interchangeably. So for starters, let’s define what these two are.
UI or User Interface Design is the complete look and feel of a product or idea that users will interact with. It has to do with the visual style and the presentation of the complete product. It can be any physical or digital device or system with which a user communicates. A layer with which user will be able to interact with a system can be termed as UI.
UX or User Experience Design is the process used to determine what the experience will be like when a user interacts with your product. Simply speaking, we define what the experience will be. User Experience Design involves a lot of processes and disciplines which helps in designing and developing systems which give high satisfaction to users. UX is not just confined to software where you end up giving good experience solutions to software products, it can be applied to anything with which a user interacts with and gets satisfied with the output. Both of them fall into the holistic User-Centered Design process which details out various disciplines and practices.
The Importance for Good UX
Both UI and UX are important; One cannot go without the other. If you define a really bad UX for the product that has a good UI, you are in for a lot of problems. Users may not understand how to interact with your product even though you have really beautiful UI. Bad UI and good UX also doesn’t do well. People may not want to go through your product if it has been designed in a not so great manner. There are times one can get away with mediocre design, but nowadays with many beautifully designed apps, websites and applications, users do expect your product to have a good UI too. As you can see, it’s not a case of better UI or better UX, it needs to be a balance of both.
The Design Process
Yes, there is a process to UX Design. From the beginning where we get in touch with clients and sit in on meetings to the research, to design and the final handover, every project goes through a process. It’s good to know how things work, but it’s not absolutely necessary to follow this for every project. Every client, project is different and the smartness lies in how well one can adapt oneself to the process to come out unscathed. Not every client may want us to work on research, development or testing. It’s at this stage we need to adapt ourselves to the process and follow a generic one which will suit us as well as the needs of the client. Below is a diagram which is the general process of any UX design project.
(image source – uxmastery.com)
Getting Into UX Design
Haha. Well everyone seems to be wanting to get into the UX Design track these days. Call it the growing need for designers and sudden spurt in the industry. There are plenty of online as well as offline resources for one to get started with UX Design. Listed below are few of the ways you can get your way into the UX Design industry. Before you get started, a few things to remember; UX is an ever-changing field so you need to keep learning something new every day. Keep yourself updated with things happening in the field. Importantly have patience. Nobody became a UX expert overnight and it takes time. You need a good amount of passion and will to learn and explore the field and somewhere within the crowded designer field, find yourself a niche.
- One of the best ways you can learn is online via dedicated UX and UI design portals like IDF (Interaction Design Foundation) and HFI (Human Factors International). They may plenty of courses for all types of learners.
- There are many online course portals like Udemy, Coursera, CareerFoundry, Lynda, and Udacity which offer courses on design.
- Offline, there are plenty of books you can purchase to get started with the basics of design. Understanding the theoretical side of things is crucial before applying your thoughts to the practical side. Some of the recommended books are: Don’t Make Me Think by Stephen Krug, The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman and 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People by Susan Weinschenk. There are plenty of other books you can google out to read, that is if you do love to read.
- There are plenty of blogs online which cover a lot of topics based on UX design and more. You can check out usability.org, UsabilityFirst, uxdesign.cc, uxmastery.com and of course this very site you are perusing at the moment.
- If you are someone willing to go through the college route, go ahead and enrol yourself in courses with a specialization in UX Design or Product Design. UX Design courses are picking up slowly, so do your research and find the ideal college that matches your needs. Also get yourself internships with design studios/companies during your time in school to gain more practical knowledge and understand how things work in real life.
- Find yourself a mentor who can guide you when it comes to process and design. Someone with experience can easily guide you and help you understand how things work in the field.
Getting into a UX design career can be quite overwhelming in the beginning. We understand. But that should not make you scared to start. Everything sounds scary at the beginning. But nothing’s impossible. You can find plenty of resources online to help you begin and make inroads into the field. Work, practice and learn is all that is needed. All you need is a whole lot of dedication, passion and the willingness to learn and push your way through. No one is an expert and nobody became one overnight. It takes time and patience, but ultimately you will get there. Your enthusiasm to learn, challenge yourself, critique yourself also counts. This works for the beginning of anything new, not just a career in UX Design. Good Luck!