Are you someone who likes to see how an application interface is designed and looks like? If you're someone who likes visual designs, the psychology behind a human-computer interaction and wants to delve deeper into the technical know-how of how a mobile or website design works then a career in User Interface/User Experience design (UI/UX) might just be the thing for you! We will try to answer some of the basic questions that you might have regarding UI/UX be it a beginner who's looking for the right course or a professional looking for a career switch to give you a head start in this offbeat and interesting career.
In 4000 BC, Feng Shui an ancient Chinese philosophy that literally means "wind" and "water" refers to the spatial arrangement of objects in relation to energy i.e., chi in Chinese was one of the earliest mentions that can be directly linked to User Experience. Feng Shui is all about arranging your surroundings (generally referring to furniture) in the best manner possible or in other words the most user-friendly way to arrange it for both aesthetics and functionality.
UX can also be seen among the ancient Greeks in 500 BC who used ergonomic principles to design their tools and workplaces. According to the International Ergonomics Association, ergonomics—or human factors—is “the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies both theory and practical methods to design and maximize human well-being and overall system performance.” This principle also comes under UX.
In the 1940s Toyota came up with its famous human-centered production system where the Toyota workers could work in the most optimal environment where the value of the machine is based on its usability just like UX.
Fast forward to the ‘90s, Donald Norman a cognitive scientist who joined Apple as a "User Experience Architect" was the first person to have UX in their job title. He coined the term, "User Experience Design" where he wanted it to cover a person's experience with a system including graphics, interface, physical interaction, and industrial design.
In 1988, Norman published his book — The Psychology of Everyday Things which was later renamed as The Design of Everyday Things and is considered to be the Bible of UX/UI.
While UI/UX design is used interchangeably, the main focus of UI design has got to do with the visual aspect of a product or the way how a product looks. UI design deals with the visual appeal of a product where design, color, placement, and arrangement of various elements on a website or application is looked into. UI Designers design the Interface of the product using various design and prototyping tools available in the market.
Whereas, UX has got to do more with the psychology of design, where it aims to understand the product that they're creating from a usability point of view. They try to create a better experience and better functionality based on the user perspective. UX Designers are responsible for conducting research and figuring out ways to overcome the user’s difficulties while interacting with the interface by finding solutions to make it more user-friendly.
UI/ UX design has a lot of scope in India with the startup market booming in India and the need for better experience and design in the digital space. The demand for UX has been on a phenomenal high in the past 10 years. According to CNN, the amount of UX Designer jobs will continue to grow by 22% over the next 10 years. Any brand that you would come across these days has a digital presence and the customer comes across the brand's website or mobile application at first before they make a purchase which in turn makes it the face of the brand and the first impression on how the brand is perceived. This is why it has become crucial to building an experience that would lead to long-lasting relationships with customers. There are a lot of applications and businesses that are yet to focus on the user experience design in the Indian market which again creates a pool of opportunities for newcomers.
In interaction design, graphics, usability, web design, and more, a career in UX and UI design require a lot of creativity, knowledge, and experience.
To understand their needs and what they want from the product, UX designers conduct research on their target users. Usability tests are also carried out to see how they interact with the actual product and what changes are required to enhance the interaction. A UX designer makes sure a product makes sense to the user by building a path that logically flows from one step to the next. They are designing the blueprint (wireframe) on which the final design is based. UI designers apply the wireframe to the graphic data to render the real product live. This involves specifying the color scheme, the form of buttons, icons, the shape of the boxes, alerts, fonts, etc. This specification is changed and modified until the finished result fits the specifications of the organization and has the most effects. A UI designer makes sure each page communicates that path visually.
There are two kinds of responses.
The first is that students who have graduated in subjects such as Arts, Humanities, Psychology, BBA, B.Tech in Computer Science/IT/Electrical are the perfect candidates for this industry.
Also trained communications practitioners such as Web Marketers, Content Authors, Marketing Administrators, Branding Experts, etc. and IT firms such as Graphic Design. Mobile App Creators or Website Developers, Video Editors, Product Managers, etc. will quickly get into this business.
The Second: Enthusiasm and passion to do something that pushes people to something they've never done before. If you are someone who likes to know stuff in detail, likes analysis and critical thinking, and is excited about emerging technologies today, you might be the best person to start/switch a career in this business, regardless of your field of study/work industry.
Know the basics of UI/UX before you make a call. Read a few books (The design of daily things by Donald Norman, Don't make me think of Steve Krug) and read UI/UX posts from UXplanet, UxGorilla, UsabilityGeek, etc. Be sure to attend some free online courses on YouTube, Interact, and ask your questions from LinkedIn experts, then make a decision.
There is no specified path to becoming a UI/UX designer as of now.
However, a Bachelor's degree in Design (B.Des), particularly with a specialty in UI/UX or Interaction Design, would give you a detailed insight into the design concepts and UI/UX fundamentals required to move into this area.
Alternatively, you could obtain a degree in Computer Science (with a specialty in Human-Computer Interaction), Media Science (with a specialization in Digital Media), or Liberal Arts (Major in Psychology with Minors/Electives such as Graphic Arts, Architecture or Marketing).
In addition to your degree, you would need to acquire experience in design applications such as Figma, Sketch, Invision, etc. Understanding your job and years of practice will help you get the spotlight and allow career strides. Additional knowledge of web programming languages such as HTML, XML, CSS, Java would also be useful.
You will practice UI/UX offline. There are several universities offering a full curriculum in their undergraduate/postgraduate program. They are ideal for students now enrolled in high school or graduation.
Some private educational institutions offer UI/UX courses along with internships and work assistance. The length of these courses ranges from institute to university. These services are appropriate for working adults who wish to turn to their technical and UG/PG students. Arena Animation is a good place to launch your career in UX/UI design with a comprehensive course for both beginners and professionals looking for a switch.