What Is UI Design?

Short for user interface design, UI design refers to the layout and visual appearance of a digital application from a website to a mobile app. UI designers determine the look and feel of an application and create a visual aesthetic which makes it easier and more delightful for people to use.

UI Designer Definition

A UI designer combines graphic design, wireframing, and prototyping skills to create web applications. They are responsible for choosing the color schemes, typography, visual hierarchy, and layout of a website or mobile app to help guide the user through the product’s interface. UI design also involves the placement of buttons, text fields, images, sliders, and other graphics that make up an application. 

UI Design and Human Behavior

While UI designers must have graphic design, wireframing, and prototyping skills, they also need to have a sound understanding of human behavior related to navigating the internet and digital devices.

UI designers must understand how humans think and react in order to create products that are intuitive and useful. They need to imagine how the user will interact with the app and then make sure the design needs no explanation to navigate from one feature to another.

If you’ve ever visited a website and intuitively clicked through a photo gallery, selected a product, and checked out your online shopping cart, you’ve benefited from quality UI design.

UI Design vs. UX Design

UI designers work hand in hand with UX (user experience) designers to create a digital application that is appealing, functional, and user-friendly. UI design is a sub-category of UX design, and the UI design definition is often used interchangeably with UX design. But in reality, they have distinct roles.

While UI designers focus on the visual layout of an application, UX designers focus on the overall experience of navigating through an app or website. Their task is to make the entire process more efficient and enjoyable for the user—it’s not a strictly digital or graphic role. 

In short, UX designers create the structure or map of a product, while the UI designers fill in the map with visual elements to make it come to life for the user.

UI Designer Skills

The best UI designers possess a range of skills that allow them to communicate, collaborate, and produce a final product that is intuitive and easy to use. For this reason, UI designers should have soft skills like the ability to communicate well with clients and teammates, establish and implement their creativity, and have empathy for the user. They must also possess hard skills like an understanding of UI design tools, methods, and theories.

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