What UX and UI Product Designers Do
In the not too distant past, products were things that sat on store shelves or in warehouses, waiting for someone to make a purchase. Nowadays, products can also be virtual things, such as websites, software for a computer, and apps for a phone. Product Designers are responsible for the entire look and feel of a product such as this, and they work with teams of people to help ensure that each component of a product meets their expectations. The teams are comprised of User Experience (UX) Designers and User Interface (UI) Designers.
UI Designers are responsible for how the product looks, and the duties often piggyback on what the UX designer has accomplished or the two may collaborate in order to create a user-friendly product. The UI Designer focuses more on design elements. For example, the UI Designer would be responsible for keeping buttons similar across a site or for deciding what type of display makes more sense to a user. Perhaps a series of buttons would work best, a slider, or tabbed container. The User Interface Designer may also use wireframes and prototypes to help determine the best layout for a page, so that the information or features users are most likely to interact with are first or prominent.
Although these jobs have been around for many years, organizations still struggle with which duties fall upon which professionals, so there are times when designers do both the UI and UX jobs collectively and other times when the duties may seep into one job from the other.
Who would enjoy a career in UX & UI Product Design?
Naturally, those who enjoy problem solving and analytics do best, but it’s also important to be interested in human behavior and have empathy for the user because anticipating their needs and catering to them is the position. Creativity is necessary too, as bridging the gap between consumer expectations and output often requires unique or innovative solutions. Internet products can be used by millions and sometimes billions of people, so those who enjoy real-time feedback on their work will be a fit for a product design career.
Who mightn't like the career?
The career is not a good fit for those who prefer to design based on their personal preference, as making things intuitive for the users as a whole is what matters most in the discipline, more than purely making the product look presentable and well-styled. In internet product companies, there can be tension between the opinions of product design, product management, engineering and growth teams, so those unwilling to compromise their design decisions for a broader business goal will find this career challenging.
A product design role also involves a lot of teamwork and collaboration, making it one of the most “social” positions in technology, so it’s not a good fit for someone who prefers to perform a set of tasks alone.
There are no specific licenses or certificates required to gain a career in UX or UI Product Design. However, many have a background in psychology or sociology, an understanding of several coding languages, and at least a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related subject.
The interview process can be complex, as most companies want to hire someone with a strong portfolio that demonstrates related experience. Obtaining certifications that relate to the job requirements can also enhance one’s resume.
- The Dribbblisation of Design (Why ingenuity and simplicity are most important when applying for a job)
- 10 Essential UI Design Interview Questions
- 10 Questions You’ll Be Asked in a UX Interview: Notes from a Young Designer
- User Experience Career Advice: How to Learn UX and Get a Job
- The Top Certification Programs for UX Professionals
Moving into UX & UI Product Design from another career
Getting into UX and UI product design positions is much easier for those who already have a background in technology and coding experience. However, those who are willing to pick up the technical skills through certifications and coursework can transition from almost any career. It’s a popular transitional career particularly among those who work in social sciences or art. For further reading, see “Why I quit my job for a career in UX Design.”
UX and UI Product Designer
Role: There is no linear progression in the career of a UX or UI product designer. Although some may offer different levels for the sake of tenure and pay, the duties are largely the same. Typical progression may include titles such as User Experience Manager, Director of User Experience and VP of Product Design, who may go on to be responsible for hiring and managing product designers and oversee the design frameworks and libraries used by the design teams.
On a given day, a designer may collaborate with other members of different teams that are contributing to the product, such as other UX designers and UI designers, as well as the product manager and engineers. They also work closely with the client and company executives to ensure all major goals are understood and met. With the overall goals in mind, the designer will then begin creating prototypes and testing each variation in order to ensure the smoothest user experience possible.
Most UX and UI Designers do not travel for work. However, the skills obtained for the job make it possible to work anywhere in the world.
According to PayScale, UX Product Designer salaries average $73,000 per year in the United States. In the United Kingdom, the average is £31,000, whereas salaries are CAD$59,000 and AU$72,000 in Canada and Australia, respectively. Pay is impacted most by experience.
Entry-Level (0-5 years): USD$70,300, £28,520, CAD$56,260, AU$68,310
Mid-Career (5-10 years): USD$84,360, £37,820, CAD$62,640, AU$81,420
Experienced (10-20 years): USD$95,460, £48,050, CAD$81,780, AU$101,430
Profit sharing and bonuses can increase a designer’s pay by as much as 10%.
Why UX and UI Product Designers move on
Most stay in their careers for life, but others do transition into new careers as well. Common difficulties cited in the profession include no linear job progression, perfectionism with the inability to create a perfect product, or limitations set by employers on what strategies may be used, such as no access to actual end users of the product. For further reading, see “What is the next step in your career as a UX or UI designer?” a discussion between designers on the Designer News forum. Those who leave tend to move into senior roles, such as Product Manager. However, others simply create their own online businesses or move into other design and tech-related fields.