What is UI Design?

working space of a creative desginer using technology

In the digital world, every eCommerce site and every portal needs a front end. That's where the User Interface (UI) comes into play. Without a good user interface, companies will struggle to maximize conversions and retain visitors. Whether you're running a Fantasy Football game or selling apparel, the front end makes the first impression, and first impressions matter.

In this article, we'll look at the people who model these interfaces. As we'll see, anyone can become a master of interface design, and with the right learning choices, it can be a lucrative and easy career switch. So let's find out more.

UI design: the basics

User interface designers have a key role to play in the modern economy. They model the systems web users encounter whenever they visit websites or use mobile apps. As such, these professionals need to take on board specific learning about how to create easy to use interfaces, and certain skills are more important than others.

When creating user interfaces, coders have to take into account various elements, including:

  • Inputs - The text fields, buttons and links that visitors will interact with when using the website.
  • Navigational elements - Things like sliders and pagination marks which help to move through content seamlessly.
  • Information - Additional content that appears on the interface, helping to contextualize the site and make it more intelligible for users.
  • Containers - In many cases, content will also be stacked vertically via "accordion" style containers, helping to display large amounts of information in an uncluttered style.

These are the basic building blocks behind most user interfaces, and to master them involves learning plenty of different techniques. For instance, you'll need to know about drop-down menus and notifications, as well as breadcrumbs and sliders.

However, with the right courses and instruction, none of that is overwhelming. Especially if you understand the core roles of a UI designer.

What are the main tasks of user interface creators?

The job of the UI creator begins after a decision has been made to create or remodel a website front end. As an interface creator, you probably won't be taking big decisions about the overall strategy of an eCommerce site or app. But you will be expected to feed into discussions about user interface composition and planning.

At lower levels, user interface professionals work underneath senior engineers who handle the strategic element. For junior staffers, day-to-day UI creation will involve specific tasks linked to the overall plan.

In some cases, these processes take place in-house and there's little contact with third parties. In others, interface technicians will need to work closely with clients to understand their desires. They may have a certain "feel" in mind for their website. Some could be very demanding, while others may be hands-off.

Being a good user interface creator therefore often involves learning how to step back and serve clients, instead of imposing your own ideas about what works best. However, the best front end creators still have the courage to speak up when briefs aren't workable. After all, they are the experts, and are expected to use that expertise to carry out projects effectively.

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What happens during the UI design phase?

Once briefs have been discussed and strategies are understood, user interface creators have a chance to show off their portfolio of skills. And the tasks could be extremely varied.

We've set out a broad definition of what UI design entails already, but there's more to it than sticking to those core areas. Inputs and navigational elements need to be implemented in ways that meet the needs of brands and companies. This means imposing a "visual language" that blends pure functionality with the right aesthetics.

The creation phase also involves a constant learning process. At first, user interface elements might look good, but fail where it really counts: user experience.

Because of this, interface engineers have to constantly assess their work and test their creations to refine them until they achieve exactly the right results. You might need to create a series of options for each page and model user behavior, visualizing how real world visitors interact with websites. The key thing is to make designs responsive to how actual users will behave.

Additionally, user interface creation generally involves tailoring websites for different formats. For instance, you'll need to check that interfaces work well on browsers like Chrome or Firefox. And most sites will need to be optimized for mobile users and tablets.

When that's all done, the plans can be sent to web developers to turn them into working interfaces.

From prototyping to working websites

The user interface creation process will vary from project to project, but in most cases learning a standard procedure will help to make things run smoothly.

  1. The first step tends to involve sketching out plans in team environments to get a feel for how each page will look. This doesn't have to be detailed, but needs to give a clear direction for the project, and every team member needs to be involved.
  2. After that, coders leap into action and create clickable prototypes according to the initial plans. These aren't live, but they look as close to the finished version as possible.
  3. If those static screens meet project specifications, the next step is to refine the look and elements of the pages so that everything coders need is clearly laid out. With the right level of clarity and detail, any web development errors can be minimized.

Launch a UI creation career with Ironhack

If you have a passion for design, a creative side, and an understanding of how the web works, user interface creation could be the perfect career switch. Interface modelers are always in demand across every business sector, and they don't need to be coding masters.

At Ironhack, we offer a bootcamp in UX UI Design for anyone who is interested in learning the secrets of user interface modeling. Sign up and discover a rewarding, engaging new career with our effective online learning packages.

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