Starting a Career in UX and UI Design
Table of Contents
- 1 Starting a Career in UX and UI Design
- 1.1 What is the Difference Between UX and UI?
- 1.2 UX and UI Design Career Paths
- 1.3 How to Become a UX/UI Designer
- 1.4 Becoming a UX/UI Designer with Help from Hussian
As modern technology continues to advance, many of our daily interactions and tasks are moving towards the digital space. All of those mobile apps and websites that make our lives easier require teams of programmers, content creators, and designers to bring them to market. Two of the primary categories of design that fall into these areas are user experience design and user interface design. If you have a bit of a creative streak and enjoying seeing your ideas translated into the digital space, these types of careers may be the perfect way to put your skills to good use. Here’s what you need to know about these career paths and how you can get started in the field.
What is the Difference Between UX and UI?
In the industry, the terms, “user experience” (UX) and, “user interface” (UI) design are often used interchangeably. In smaller organizations or in the freelance setting, a single employee may take on both roles at the same time. However, there are several distinctions between the two.
What is User Experience (UX) Design?
User experience design refers to how it feels to actually use a product and how well it satisfies the needs of the user. UX designers explore a variety of methods that users might use to accomplish a goal so that they can determine which is the most intuitive and effective. The ultimate goal is to ensure that the steps required to complete a task flow logically from one to the next, making the process as seamless as possible.
User experience designers may also work as UX researchers, working with actual customers to see how they use the product and where they tend to run into complications or confusion. Feedback from these customers is then used to refine and hone the product to better meet their needs. UX deals primarily with the “big picture” of how the product works.
What is User Interface (UI) Design?
User interface design goes into the details of what the product looks like and how the end user actually interacts with it. This includes designing each page of a website or app, choosing where the buttons and links are located, and strategically placing the most-used content near the top of each page. This job also includes choosing how the content will be displayed, whether through image sliders, animations or other methods.
Basically, the UI designer is responsible for bringing the path outlined by the UX designer to life. It involves creating a specific style guide that will cover the fonts, colors, and other design elements to be used throughout the website or app so that everything is as consistent as possible, delivering a complete brand experience from all angles.
In addition to UX and UI design, you can also put your design skills to use as a graphic designer or motion designer. Graphic designers are responsible for creating the individual visual components, like logos, buttons, and more. Motion designers create mini-animations within the site or app. This includes transitions between pages and how the buttons react when they are clicked or tapped. These jobs tend to be a bit more artistic, whereas UI and UX design are based more on practicality.
UX and UI Design Career Paths
In many cases, the various design jobs described in the previous section are handled by a single designer. In larger organizations, though, tasks tend to be more specialized, with many different designers contributing to a team. The style that will be right for you will depend on your unique skill set and preferences.
For example, if you love the creative aspect of designing the way an app looks but don’t enjoy the technical part of designing the way that it works, a larger company would likely be a better fit for you. You’ll be able to focus on the areas that you are the strongest in while letting others handle their own personal areas of expertise.
On the other hand, if you are a big-picture thinker who likes to manage all aspects of a project, you might prefer working for a smaller organization or taking on the role of a freelancer, in which you can be involved with designing the site or app from initial concept design to completion.
Who Hires UX and UI Designers?
As our world continues to move into the digital age, it seems as though there is an app for just about anything, and virtually every business has its own website. This opens many opportunities for UX and UI designers. These skills are only going to be more in demand going forward as technology continues to advance. Here are a few ideas to get you started thinking about possible career paths:
- Designing gaming interfaces for a video game company
- Creating a shopping app for a grocery store chain
- Creating websites for a variety of clients through a web design agency
- Designing new features for a social media platform
- Becoming the key UX or UI designer for a startup or young tech company
Freelance vs. Traditional Employment
UX and UI designers are in a unique position to determine the structure of how they would like to work. Of course, you can opt for the traditional route and work full-time for a single employer or you may choose to work as a freelancer. As a freelancer, you’ll have much greater control over your schedule and how much you work, although there are some things to keep in mind if you’re considering this route.
As a freelance UX or UI designer, you’ll work with clients on an individual basis, typically for the duration of a single project. If you have solid time management skills, you may even work for multiple clients at the same time. Ultimately, it is in your power to take vacation or personal time.
Freelancing does have some drawbacks, though. The most obvious is that if you don’t have a project to work on, you don’t get paid, so you’ll need to be self-motivated to constantly bring in new clients to keep the cash flow coming. Freelance employment can be unpredictable, with some months being busier than others, so you’ll need to be able to budget your money well to get you through months when business may be slower. If you can handle the ups and downs, though, freelancing is a great option to help you be in full control of your career and projects.
How to Become a UX/UI Designer
If you think that UX and UI design might be the right career path for you, the first step is to hone and practice your skills through a formal education. At Hussian College, we offer a variety of courses in UX/UI design, delivering a BFA degree in User Interface and Experience. During the course of their education, students will grow as professionals thanks to opportunities that only a formal secondary education can provide:
When attending a school like Hussian you will take a variety of courses, from the most basic within our course catalog, such as UX Design Fundamentals, to the most complex of topics, like Dynamic Web Development. The coursework begins with the broader topics, gradually becoming more narrow and focused as you progress through the curriculum. Each new course builds on the skills gained in previous semesters, ultimately coming together in a formal portfolio project at the end of the four years.
Building a Portfolio to be Proud Of
As part of your graduation requirements, you’ll have to complete a portfolio in your senior year, showcasing all of the impressive work you have completed throughout your tenure at Hussian. Putting together this portfolio will be great practice for actually working in the field, but that is not all it is good for; you’ll be able to show this portfolio to prospective employers during the job application process. Even if you haven’t actually worked in the field yet, your student portfolio will give employers a sense of your artistic style and vision, which will make them more willing to take a chance on hiring you straight out of school.
In addition to courses that are specific to UX and UI design, you’ll also take many related courses, including:
- Art History
- Creative Writing
- Color Theory
- Life Drawing
- Critical Thinking
Our degree program is designed to give you a full education in the arts, not just in the areas of UX and UI design. After completing our curriculum, you’ll be well prepared for a career in the arts, whether in the digital or physical space. As you continue to grow in your career, you’ll appreciate having this diverse background, as it will offer many more opportunities in the future.
Becoming a UX/UI Designer with Help from Hussian
Starting a career in UX/UI design is exciting—as a student at Hussian, you’ll have a variety of interesting projects, designed to both stimulate your creativity and challenge your artist skills. As a professional, you’ll have the opportunity to work with clients in a range of industries. There’s no end to the type of clientele you may take on. From an expansive curriculum designed to help you grow as an artist to a faculty of experienced and dedicated professionals, Hussian College is ready to prepare you for what’s ahead.
Learn more about the courses you’ll take as a user interface and experience student at Hussian College by browsing our course catalog. We invite you to contact us with any questions you may have or to plan a tour of our Philadelphia campus.