User Interface (UI) Design

User interface (UI) design is a design discipline focused on the visual design of the interface through which users interact with a product or system.

UI design considerations include:

  • Layout: Where do elements appear on the screen?
  • Colors: What palette is used and what emotions do those colors evoke?
  • Typography: What typefaces are used and what do they communicate?
  • Interaction design: How do elements respond to user interaction?
  • Brand identity: How do all of the visual elements come together to represent the brand’s vision?
  • Responsiveness and usability: Is the interface easy to use across different devices?
  • Accessibility and inclusivity: Does the interface work for everyone?
  • Front-end development: What is the technical backbone powering the interface?

Examples of user interfaces on differently sized screens: smartphones, laptops, a large monitor, and a smart watch.

UI designers are focused on the design of user interfaces, or what will appear on a device’s screen through which a user interacts. This role is most responsible for the visceral experience of the product, ensuring it sets its best foot forward and makes a good impression on users. UI designers are usually most involved later in the product development process, with creating the “surface” of the product as described by the Five Elements of UX Design.

The Five Elements of UX Design, from concrete to abstract: Surface, Skeleton, Structure, Scope, and Strategy, with UX design encompassing the entire process, and UI design focused on the Surface.

A day in the life of a UI designer may include:

  • Creating high-fidelity digital prototypes of a design.
  • Deciding on a color palette for a mobile app.
  • Creating a visual style guide for a new sub-brand.
  • Checking the accessibility of a design.
  • Communicating with developers about technical design requirements.

Both user interface (UI) design and user experience (UX) design are centered on users and involve ensuring that products and systems are meeting real needs. They’re also focused on making those products and systems as intuitive and pleasant to use as possible.

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