Both UX and UI designers work on creating beautiful interfaces, but their involvement and skill sets are required at different times during the design and development process. So how do you know which career is the best fit for you? Learn more about what UX and UI designers do on a daily basis to figure out where you’ll excel.
User Experience Design (UX)
User experience designers are skilled at identifying problems and making interfaces as easy to use as possible. UX designers are known for being obsessed with customers and ensuring the intuitiveness of all designs. UXers’ work is often less visual than that of a UI designer and requires an understanding of analytics and testing interfaces. But what does this look like on a day to day basis?
UX designers take on a variety of roles on a project, so your day to day will change on the stage of the project you’re working on. You might start your morning recruiting or screening potential users for your next usability test, or typing up the script for your next remote user testing. You could be rethinking wireframes based on technical limitations or feedback that was just analyzed from a user test. If you’re working on a smaller team, you might take on a wider range of tasks like helping with information architecture or project management and coordination with development teams.
- Strategy: UXers must clearly know the goals they’re working towards. It is to increase sign-ups? Create a clear dashboard of information? Whatever the goal, the UXers are responsible for creating the strategy to achieve a more usable interface.
- Research and Usability Testing: You’ll need to understand how to test your ideas to confirm that you’re working on the right strategy. Usability testing requires recruiting users, creating scripts to follow for your tests, and analyzing and presenting your findings.
- Prototyping: Testing requires prototypes, and for a UXer, this usually means creating wireframes and thinking through interactivity. Some prototypes might start with a sketch, but a UXer might be responsible for taking them to a higher fidelity with a tool like Photoshop, Balsamiq or Axure.
UXers don’t work in isolation. On a digital project, UXers can expect to work closely with UI designers, project managers, and front-end developers. They need an understanding of a project lifecycle, to be able to understand basic technical components of a build and to have knowledge of good visual design principles.
As an emerging career, there aren’t traditional paths to becoming a UX designer. Oftentimes people who have studied sociology, psychology or human-computer interaction are drawn to the field, but there is no prerequisite and basic skills can be acquired quickly.
According to research from the Nielson Norman Group, entry-level salaries are approximately $63,000, and those with five or more years of experience earn around $90,000.
Sample Job Postings
Here are a few job postings to help you understand what potential employers are looking for in various UX roles