The user interface (UI) design is a new field in industrial and web design. Basically, it’s the interaction between the user and the machine. Things like readability, access to the content, or the usability of a website or app depend on the UI designer’s skills.
There is a set of skills that every UI designer should know. These skills go from the technical knowledge of programming to ordinary skills. Before talking about them, we need to know about UI design itself.
To understand UI design, we should define the user interface. It is the space where the user and the machine interact. This interaction allows the operation and more effective control from the user.
The main UIs are those with menus, windows, graphics contents, the cursor, and sounds from the machine.
UI design is the one in charge of defining the shape, function, usability, and other things that influence the look of the UIs in all the gadgets. Its main goal is to make the interaction as efficient and straightforward as possible.
The UI designer’s philosophy is to be focused on the user.
The best UIs are the ones you can’t see. You can notice some of them when they’re new, unknown, or aren’t properly designed.
Proof that a UI isn’t well designed is when you can’t find the way to use a system or machine. The UI has to make a system more usable, and it can’t confuse the users.
The best systems or tools are useless if you don’t understand how they work.
This field involves web, graphic, industrial, and software design. The designer has to make the visual elements and functionality work by complementing each other to create a system adaptable to the user’s needs. Nowadays, over 45% of programming is dedicated to UI design.
The graphics and industrial design’s purpose is to make the app or system understandable and easy to learn. They use typography, symbols, and pictures without affecting their functionality.
UI and UX design are pretty related, even the skills a designer needs, but it’s essential to understand they aren’t the same.
UI design focuses on usability, while UX design depends on users’ perceptions.
Notions Of UI Design
Let’s be honest, many programmers focus just on the functionality of a system, forgetting how it looks. That’s a big mistake because, when you’re going to buy something, the first thing you see and pay attention to is if it looks good, not its functionality.
These are some of the things that a UI designer has to take into consideration when they’re going to create a UI:
User familiarity: the users need to understand all about the page or machine. That’s why the designer has to investigate the public that will contact the UI. The research can create a UI using understandable words for the visitor with the research.
Consistency: the colors, graphic elements, and language should be similar. This means that the operations related to each other should be activated in the same way, or at least in a similar way.
Recoverability: this item depends on the programmer’s job. Everyone makes mistakes, but the system should allow the user to recover from one.
User guide: it’s always a good idea to provide the users with a guide with all the essential information about the system, even when its handling is intuitive and easy to understand.
Good and minimalist appearance: basically, the system should just show the information needed at that moment. Remember, it’s easy to lose the user’s attention, and you don’t want that.
UI Designer Skills
To design the ideal interface, the designer should have skills. This set goes from technical programming knowledge to common skills, like visual perception. The common skills are as essential as the technical ones. The designer needs the common ones to make the interface attractive and straightforward.
The most important technical skill is the advanced handling of web design software, like Sketch, Adobe XD or InVision Studio.
These programs allow the designer to create an interface as fast as possible. When they know the commands, they do a better and faster job.
Other programs that are important to keep in mind allow you to create wireframes to understand what you want to make. The prototypes should have interactive elements, and that’s why it’s essential to know about the codes.
The designer should also know the theory to configure correctly and effectively the elements of the UI, as well as apply it.
The most relevant authors in this field are Jesse James Garret with “The Elements of User Experience” and Donald Norman with “User-Centered System Design: New Perspectives on Human-computer Interaction.”
Basically, creating a web design is more complicated than just typing codes and studying graphics in these books. A website needs to meet the users’ necessities to fulfill its objectives.
They need to know how to apply typography, contrast, and studies such as “Eye-tracking” to better the user experience. Eye-tracking is a new technology that pretends to gather user information by analyzing its eyes’ movement.
Finally, they have to understand everything related to the brand they design, like the color palette and their personality, to transmit the same message. We can’t forget that graphic design is all about communicating a message correctly.
As I said before, not everything is technical. The common UI designer skills are as essential as the technical ones. The most important skill here is communication. Designers should be available to transmit the information correctly to the user through the system.
The main objective is to design an easy-to-understand system. That’s why communication is so important, and this communication has to always be visual.
Another vital thing to keep in mind is UI designers never work alone, and there is a whole design team working with them. They need to understand that every team member is essential and irreplaceable, and they have to know about teamwork.
About the company, the designer should adapt to its necessities and requirements. These will be changing with time, and the designer should change to satisfy them. Also, they have to increase their knowledge constantly because every day, new technologies appear, and the designers can’t be old-fashioned.
The UI designer is in charge of the final aspect of a system and its functionality. It has to be intuitive and straightforward. The most essential UI designer skill is visual communication; they have to transmit everything without speaking.
Also, they have to organize everything that will guide and interact with the user. They need to know many types of programs and languages to create the perfect UI. This isn’t an easy task, and it has a lot of things involved, but it’s pretty necessary.
A system, app, or website doesn’t have to just work correctly; it must be usable and easy to understand.