User interface (UI) and user experience (UX) are two essential aspects of digital products, including software, websites, mobile phones, wearable devices, and video games. Because these products have become intertwined with our daily lives, UI and UX have become increasingly sophisticated so that users of any ability can use them easily and effectively. As a result, employers ranging from multinational corporations to startups need talented professionals with UI and UX design skills. Let’s take a look at what it takes to get started in these two rewarding and competitive careers.
How Difficult Is It to Learn UI or UX Design?
Learning the basics of UI/UX design is not particularly difficult, but most people need experience to develop the skills and expertise to become proficient at it. Like pursuing any career in either design or technology, learning UI/UX design requires a high level of creative talent, as well as outstanding critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.
You’ll find it easier to learn UI/UX design if you’re entering the field with a background in design, web development, or programming. If you have a design background, you’ll need to add technical skills, including research, testing, and perhaps coding skills. If you have a web development or programming background, learning UI and UX design will require you to take a broader view when developing products.
No matter your background, learning UI UX design will require time and dedication.
What’s Needed to Learn UI and UX Design?
To succeed as a UI UX designer, you will need to develop several technical skills. These skills include:
- User research and strategy: UI and UX designers need to be laser-focused on users’ needs, which means researching how they’ll interact with and respond to finished products is a fundament requirement of the job. You need to build skills in research methods, including data collection, and understand how to plan and conduct research, as well as how to analyze findings.
- Design skills: You need to be comfortable with layout, typography, graphics, animation, and other visual elements and understand which design elements will optimize user interactions. That means being knowledgeable about how users navigate and interact with flows of information and how designs display across mobile, desktop, and other screens.
- Wireframing and prototyping: UX and UI designers need to be proficient at wireframing and prototyping to communicate the details of the final product design to team members. They also need to be adept at using common industry design software and tools.
Beyond design talent and technical skills, UX and UI designers also need to have strong soft skills, including the ability to communicate, collaborate, and manage projects and stakeholders.
UI and UX Certification Courses and Bootcamps
Although it’s possible to learn UI or UX design on your own, earning a UI or UX certification or completing a bootcamp program will help you a solid skill set quickly and the credentials will appeal to potential employers. If you want to make sure a career in UI UX design is right for you, taking a free micro-course can introduce you to the field and help you determine whether it’s the right fit.
When you’re ready to learn UI or UX design, you’ll have many excellent UI and UX design certification programs and bootcamps to choose from. If you’re self-taught, they’ll help you formalize your existing skills. If you’re a beginner, you’ll learn the skills and techniques you’ll need to enter the field. Be sure to do plenty of research to find the best course for your needs.
To get you started here are some leading UI and UX certification programs:
- CareerFoundry UX Design Program: Designed for beginners who want to build a thorough knowledge base, this online program lasts between 5 to 10 months.
- Designlab UI Design Short Course: This 4-week program is aimed at mid-level designers looking to upskill.
- Google UX Design Professional Certificate: This 6-month Coursera program is a good fit for beginners who want to learn the fundamentals of UX design.
Some leading UI and UX bootcamps:
- Columbia Engineering UX/UI Boot Camp: This 24-week program will train you to become an end-to-end UX/UI professional.
- NYIT UX/UI Design Development Program. You’ll build a foundation in both UX and UI design in New York Institute of Technology’s 9-month graduate program.
- Springboard UI/UX Design Bootcamp: Designed for beginners, this 9-month online boot camp will provide the skills you need to secure a job as UI or UX designer.
Common UX and UI Software Tools
UI and UX designers use a variety of software tools to do their jobs. UI tools enable designers to design accurate wireframes, mockups, and prototypes. UX design tools focus on how users will experience the content. Some software tools are used for both UI and UX.
Leading UI design tools include:
- Adobe XD: This platform provides vector-based tools for creating prototypes and mockups, and it features the familiar Adobe interface.
- InVision Studio: Designers use this digital product-development platform to create and share mockups, prototypes, and software designs.
- Sketch: This all-in-one digital design platform features collaborative design tools, prototyping, and developer handoffs
- Other common tools: Axure, Craft, Figma, Marvel, and Proto.io.
Leading UX design tools include:
- FlowMapp: Designers use this dedicated UX tool to build user flows and construct visual sitemaps.
- Balsamiq: This software simplifies making low-fi wireframes.
- VisualSitemaps: Another popular low-fi wireframing tool, it includes an in-browser demo.
- Other common tools: Chalkmark, Reframer, and Treejack.
Steps to become a UX designer:
- Take a UX design course.
- Learn UX tools.
- Create some designs independently.
- Get some hands-on experience.
- Create a design portfolio.
- Apply to UX designer jobs.
To maintain best practices and stay up to date with rapidly changing technologies, UI and UX designers often need to learn new features in updated software tools or learn how to use new design tools.