Unique Skill Set Every UI Designer Should Have
To start off, we’d like to tell you that there are some technical skills you’d need, and there are some skills that are more people-oriented. No, you don’t have to like people or be an extrovert, but you have to understand them.
Also, we’d like to point out that all the skills mentioned here can be learned. There are courses, both paid and free, and we’ll link some of them in the blog, later on.
Now, let’s start learning about being a UI designer!
If you want to dabble in the world of UI design, you should have an idea of design principles. You should have an eye for aesthetics, understand color theory, and know about proportions, typography, space, and layouts - to name a few.
Visual design is also about strategy, as you should know how to lead a person to do what you want; a visual cue that will bring the eye to the most important information.
Seems overwhelming? Don’t worry! There are great courses and information out there that will make it easier for you to get a good grasp on the subject.
If you want to learn about visual design, there’s Interaction Design, one of the biggest online design schools. You can see their Ultimate Guide to Visual Perception and Design | for starters.
There’s also a course on this subject on Coursera and Udemy, as well as many free courses on YouTube.
Sketching/Illustration in 2D and 3D
There’s an active debate about whether this is a must-have or a nice-to-have skill, however, let’s just say that knowing how to illustrate and sketch will make your life as a UI designer much easier and your work more far-reaching and diverse.
Once you understand the principles of visual design and you know how to apply them, the next step is learning how to create custom illustrations, icons, and other design elements. You don’t have to be Leonardo da Vinci - but you could try and be Piet Mondrian.
After you’ve learned about visual design, you should understand what it is that separates UI design from other forms of design.
You should be well organized and know about architecture; you should be familiar with Fitt’s law - in terms of UX/UI. And, of course, understand what and (most importantly) who you’re designing for.
Apart from the aforementioned Udemy, Interaction Design, and YouTube, in 2020. Google and Coursera joined forces and created a course that was supposed to give you college worth of knowledge in just 6 months and 7 courses. It is a course for a UX designer rather than a UI designer, but it can still teach you a lot.
Nice-to-haves: Animation and Copywriting
Animation can be the difference between someone paying you $1000 or $10.000. It’s the difference between drawing a planet and making the world go round. It can be challenging to learn but it may really help you deliver better and more interesting designs.
Copywriting, or maybe even better, storytelling, can help you with wireframing your website - having an idea of what goes where and how much text will be there. It can also add another level to your designing skills, as you’ll be able to imagine the visitor's journey through the website.
If you want to design and do it successfully, you should understand people. Understand their physiology - how we see, the way our brain processes visual cues, etc.; and understand their psychology as well: the lack of concentration and focus, the reason why they’re on the website you’re designing - what brought them there, do they have any questions, desires, fears?
As a designer, you should have empathy, because you need to understand the buyer, the website visitor. It’s important to remember that you’re not designing for your client, but for your client’s target audience.
Sometimes, even the clients forget this. Don’t be too scared to remind them, if you have a good reason for your choices.
If you’re reading this blog, it means you’re probably already on the right track. Curiosity is a great asset for anyone who wants to progress in their career, as you constantly have to learn new things and improve yourself.
As a UI designer, you should keep an eye open for what’s new, what styles are emerging, and what new information have studies shown about people’s behaviors - just to name a few.
You can be up-to-date by reading blogs like these, from fellow UI designers. Follow some good designers on social media, or look for inspiration on Dribble, Pinterest, and Medium.
To conclude: don’t be overwhelmed. Usually, with lists like these, people can start to panic and think that there’s just too much. It really isn’t! Just take it one step at a time.
And, as a reminder, here are those steps:
- Learning visual design
- Sketching/Illustration in 2D & 3D
- Understanding UI
- Animation (at least basics)
- Copywriting (at least basics)
- Understanding People
Do you think we covered everything, or do you have a suggestion on what we could add on the list? Let us know!