The world was already shifting toward conducting most transactions in digital space, and the 2020 pandemic accelerated this change drastically. The way our world works is still in the process of evolving, with the ways we conduct business, schooling, and social networking transitioning more and more to online landscapes. And some are choosing to take advantage of this time of transition to learn new things and reinvent themselves.
If you’re one of the people considering changing occupations after the pandemic made you think twice about pursuing an English degree, you might want to consider becoming a web designer. With online spaces becoming the new normal for most people, web design is well on its way to becoming one of the most stable and lucrative career options moving forward.
If this is your first foray into the wide world of web design, you might not be familiar with the differences between User Interface (or UI) designers and User Experience (UX) designers. I wouldn’t blame you, as plenty of consumers experience the work of both groups daily without fully recognizing it, or without understanding how much work from both camps went into optimizing the websites they’ve spent the day browsing. Both groups have to work together to produce the seamless products you encounter every day: yet, especially for an aspiring student of web design, it’s vital to know the difference between the two groups.
A Crash Course: UX vs. UI Web Design
UX Design: Putting the User First
UX Designers are perhaps the more versatile of the two groups, able to adapt their specialty to any variety of products (although the term is typically used in digital settings). Their responsibility is to think about how the user will experience their product from beginning to end, designing and tempering every aspect of the product to make the user experience as pleasant and accessible as possible. They deal less with the visual elements of the process and more with the functionality of their product, building the bare bones that the UI designers will flesh out.
An easy way to think of UX design is building a foundation of theory, a skeleton of ideas that need muscles to be functional. UX designers are known for building website frameworks, and they typically focus on simple, accessible designs, as complex, over-the-top designs have negatively impacted customer experiences.
UI Design: Painting the Rest of the Picture
UI Designers are responsible for taking the outline that UX Designers have provided and building it up, making it aesthetically pleasing and creating interfaces that customers can access easily. They deal less with the theory behind making a website accessible and more with the mechanics, meaning that UI design, unlike UX design, is a strictly digital profession. While the UX designers create the framework of a website, thinking about how consumers will experience it from the home page, the UI designer’s job is to translate their ideas into a reality that will please the customer and offer the ease of access intended by the UX designer.
UI designers also consider the aesthetic elements of a product: color schemes, font size and type, and other factors that affect the overall consistency and cohesiveness of the website’s appearance.
Two Separate Roles, One Purpose
Both roles have aspects that will appeal to different types of workers: UX is for more creatively-inclined minds who are bent towards seeing the big picture and mapping out potential outcomes, and UI is for more mechanically-bent people who are interested in how things work and can turn ideas into concrete, functional products. Both have to work together to design a complete, functional product, as neither is able to complete its job without the other.
If any of the above has piqued your interest, consider joining a web-design bootcamp to find your web-design niche. Bootcamps may be a good idea for wannabe web designers, as they are faster and less expensive than most two or four-year college programs.
The Career of the Future
Whether you choose to be a UX or UI designer, your services will always be needed. With the pandemic still raging and the world still rapidly shifting to transacting business online, companies and corporations will need your expertise to adapt their websites and UI to adapting consumer needs. If you’re thinking about changing careers, there’s no greater opportunity than now – consider becoming a UX or UI web designer, and join a growing industry where help is always wanted.