What is UI Design?

UI design, the process of creating the visual look of digital applications, websites, or products, has become a highly sought-after skill due to the growing importance of digital presence in various industries. This blog post explores the ins and outs of UI design, the tools used in the field, and the potential career paths for skilled UI design professionals.

What is UI Design?

UI design is an aspect of digital design concerned with how a digital application looks and how it uses graphic design to communicate ideas. UI design deals with how text, images, colors, and graphics combine to produce vibrant, memorable, expressive digital applications. Given the importance that companies and organizations place on their digital presence, UI design skills are in high demand, as web design and graphic design careers are increasing across various industries. In this overview, you’ll learn more about what UI design is, what it can do, who uses it, and how to learn how to add this skill to your professional toolbox.

What Can You Do with UI Design?

Training in UI design will help creatives build vibrant and instantly memorable web designs and user interfaces for digital applications. UI Designers can blend text, images, and graphics to create functional and evocative designs using the various design programs. Unlike traditional graphic design projects, UI design projects will let creatives maximize the affordances of the digital canvas they are given, and UI Designers will be able to create digital layouts that communicate effectively and quickly. With so much modern communication happening over the internet, learning UI design is a powerful tool for expressing the interests of oneself and one’s organization.

UI design is also a useful skill for creatives who aren’t necessarily planning to build a career out of their graphic design training but still want to optimize their digital presence or their organization. Given the number of web applications designed to ease the process of web development, individuals can start designing and building digital applications for themselves or their organizations without only a little bit of UI design training. This is a bonus for small businesses, up-and-coming charities or nonprofits, advocacy organizations, and any other interest group that may want to build a web presence but is hesitant to hire professional Web Designers.

Finally, learning UI design can give existing creatives an entirely new medium to express their ideas. While web design is concerned with the functional elements of a digital application, learning UI design will allow artists and designers to build unique installations and projects that would otherwise be impossible to construct in a physical space. While most people receiving UI design training will do so with professionalization, learning how to build assets and art pieces online can give artists a new space to experiment with their creative ideas.

How Do You Get UI Design Tools? How Much Does it Cost?

UI Designers will use many different tools in their day-to-day work, so an early question students have centered around what these tools are and how much they cost. The only necessary tool for UI design is a user experience layout tool, such as Figma or Adobe XD. However, many professional UI Designers will also do a significant amount of graphic design work, necessitating other tools, such as a vector graphics illustrator or a photograph manipulation tool.

In terms of user experience design tools, there are a few options available to new designers. The three industry-standard tools are Figma, Adobe XD, and Sketch. Noble offers a free introductory seminar detailing the differences between these programs. Adobe XD is the most expensive option but can be packaged with other useful programs. Figma offers users increased collaboration tools and is ideal for design teams. Sketch is the most cost-effective tool and is specifically optimized for macOS design.

UI Designers will often use other graphic design tools, such as photo-manipulation tools like Photoshop or Affinity Photo, and vector graphic illustration tools like Illustrator or Inkscape. The cost of these programs will vary, with some available for free and some requiring monthly or yearly licensing subscriptions.

What Are the Benefits of Learning UI Design?

More so than ever, companies and organizations are investing large amounts of money and resources into their digital presence. Web design is booming; the mobile app industry has been growing for years, and building a coherent online brand identity is incredibly important to new businesses and organizations. These concerns are partly addressed by specialists working in UI design, as the look of a digital application informs and colors users’ first impressions of a product. Learning UI design skills will position students to enter the visual and graphic design field, focusing on the fast-growing digital side of the industry.

In addition, UI design training will provide students with valuable knowledge of visual design and communication theories. So much modern communication, particularly online, is done through graphic design projects, so learning the ins and outs of UI design can add another layer to a student's understanding of how to communicate ideas using only visual elements of design effectively. This training will make them better communicators and better equipped to understand the visual strategies employed by other graphic designers in different fields.

Finally, learning UI design is a great way to learn many transferable career skills applicable to creatives in most industries. UI Designers will work with specialized user experience design tools, but they will also work with more generic creative tools like Photoshop and Illustrator. This means that learning UI design will help students hone skills they can apply to any creative project, whether digital or otherwise. This makes learning UI design ideal for aspiring creatives who aren’t yet entirely sure that there is a specific medium they will be working in for the rest of their careers.

Read more about why you should learn UI design.

UI Design Careers

Since having a memorable and evocative digital presence is so important in the modern marketplace, many companies and firms are hiring professionals who can design digital applications that effectively communicate the messages a brand wants to communicate. Within the field of UI design, there are many possible career paths for skilled creatives to go down, such as:

User Interface Designer: UI Designers are tasked with building a digital application's visual look and appearance. They will be responsible for ensuring that the application communicates the messages that a client wants to be communicated memorably and effectively. They will often work alongside other designers to build parts of a larger project. Some UI Designers will be responsible for building individual assets or aspects of a bigger design. UI Designers will need to be trained in user experience and graphic design software.

Visual Designer: Visual Designers are tasked with creating the individual elements of visual language that allow other creatives to construct layouts and designs. They work across many industries, building assets for use in advertising, webpages, games, and applications. They will construct assets like banner ads, text overlays, fonts, and other individual elements of digital design. They will use many of the same tools as UI Designers, and their responsibilities and assignments may often overlap at smaller firms.

Design Director: As so many design projects involve large-scale collaboration between teams of designers and developers. Design Directors oversee this design process and help teams collaborate to deliver the best product possible. Design Directors will need both the technical skills of a UI Designer to oversee these teams' work and a Project Manager's interpersonal skills to ensure that the human element of a design project is managed effectively. Design Directors may also need to learn complementary skills to assist other elements of a project team, like web development, UX design, or market research.

How to Learn UI Design

Students looking to learn UI design have many options to choose from in terms of professional training options. Students can take courses either in-person or online, and they can take their courses either with live instructors or through an on-demand, self-paced learning style. Each of these course options will have certain advantages and disadvantages. Regardless of the course, Noble can help you with UI design classes through their Courses Near Me tool.

Noble can assist students in finding live in-person and online classes. These classes have the advantage of letting students interact with expert instructors who are ready to help them learn the fundamental concepts of UI design. Students can ask questions and receive feedback on their designs directly. Live in-person learning has the added advantage of providing students with access to the technology they need to practice UI design skills. Live online classes can allow students to attend coursework regardless of location.

For students whose schedule will not allow them to attend a regularly scheduled live course, on-demand course options exist to help them control the pace of their training. These courses come in several different formats, but they all aim to allow students the freedom and flexibility to practice and learn when they have the chance to do so, rather than tying them down to a specific schedule. These classes are ideal for students with work and family obligations that restrict them from spending 30 or more hours a week in a classroom. Noble can help students find online UI design options available to them.

Finally, free tutorials are available to help students learn the basics of UI design. These tutorials include video resources and free training seminars. Noble offers students several pre-recorded video training courses through the Web Design and Development playlist on their official YouTube page. Here, students can watch free videos detailing the philosophies behind UI design and the specific tools that UI Designers will be tasked with using. Additionally, interested students can find interviews, articles, and UI design resources on Noble’s Learn UI design page.

Read the full guide on how to learn UI design.

Comparable Applications/Programming Languages/Fields

UI design is most comparable to other visual design fields and its sister field, UX design. Since UI design uses many of the same tools as these other fields, the main difference is in how those tools are used and what techniques are applied.

UI Designers will use many of the same tools that Graphic Designers will use, and in many professional environments, there is a great deal of overlap between the two positions. Graphic Designers will likely learn programs like Photoshop and Illustrator and use those programs to design the digital assets that UI Designers will place into digital layouts. The primary difference between these fields is that UI Designers will learn to use additional tools for building user experience layouts, many of which were developed to address the limitations of programs like Photoshop and Illustrator. Students interested in learning more about graphic design should consult the topics page on Noble’s website.

UI design is also closely tied to UX design. UI Designers are tasked with designing how a digital application looks, and UX Designers are tasked with designing how a digital application feels. Both professions will use user experience design tools, but UX Designers will be more concerned with using them to create prototypes of digital applications for testing. UX design primarily collects user feedback to determine how real users use an application. This makes it a significantly more analytic field, and whole UX and UI design may take the same time to learn. UX design will deal more with data collection and interpretation than UI design. Noble’s learn page provides several articles on UX design.

Learn UI Design with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop

Once students have committed to learning UI design, they can receive hands-on training in one of the many UI design classes offered through Noble Desktop. These courses, available both in-person at Noble’s Manhattan campus and online, provide students with career-focused skills training in an industry-recognized educational environment. Students will benefit from working with live instructors who can answer their questions, provide feedback, and help them overcome any learning challenges they encounter. Even online, Noble’s classes boast small class sizes so that students can receive individual attention from their instructors. Plus, Noble offers free retake options, meaning that a student can re-enroll in a completed course within one year to receive additional training, review material, or just get a bit more hands-on UI design experience.

Students looking to learn the basics of UI design may wish to consider enrolling in Noble’s UI Design Bootcamp. This course will provide students with hands-on experience, using practical examples, designing the appearance of web pages and mobile applications. Students will receive training in the basic theories of composition and design and one-on-one feedback from expert instructors on the make-up of their UI design projects. This course is ideal for students hoping to learn the ins and outs of how to apply their existing knowledge of visual design tools to the process of building digital applications. Students who wish to enroll in this course should have a working knowledge of the user experience design tool Figma. Students looking for this training can enroll in Noble’s Figma Bootcamp.

Noble offers a UI Design Certificate program for students who want a more career-focused learning experience that will teach students all of the important fundamental skills they will need to enter the workforce as UI design specialists. Students will learn theories of composition and design and how to apply those theories of design to web pages and digital applications. In addition, students will learn how to use design tools like Figma, Adobe Photoshop, and Illustrator. This course caps off with a series of lessons concerning how to build a design portfolio to take onto the job market. With portfolio design training, one-on-one career mentorship, and the reception of an industry-recognized skills certificate, this course is ideal for students looking to build new careers in UI design.

Key Takeaways

  • UI design entails designing the visual look and appearance of a digital application, website, or product. This process involves building layouts using text, graphics, color, and images to communicate an intended message quickly and effectively.
  • The most important UI design tool is a user experience layout design application, such as Figma, Adobe XD, or Sketch. These tools will let users design wireframe layouts of digital applications and convert them into interactive prototypes for testing.
  • Many UI Designers also use graphic design tools like Photoshop and Illustrator to build individual graphic assets for their digital designs.
  • UI design skills are in high demand as companies compete to have the most memorable and evocative web presence possible. UI Designers, Digital Designers, Design Directors, and many other kinds of Graphic Designers will regularly make use of UI design skills on the job.
  • UI design is closely linked to, but very distinct from, UX design. UI design is a creative process that concerns itself with the look of an application. UX design deals with the functionality and feel of an application.
  • Students seeking UI design training can receive a comprehensive UI design education with the help of classes offered by Noble.

How to Learn UI Design

Master UI design with hands-on training. User interface (UI) design, also called visual design, is a kind of digital design that prioritizes making app and website interfaces look good to users.

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