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Career Guide

How to Become a UI Designer

BrainStation's UI Designer career guide is intended to help you take the first steps toward a lucrative career in UI design. The guide provides an in-depth overview of the design skills you should learn, the best available UI design training options, career paths in UI design, and more.

How to Become a UI Designer
Ready to start your career in Design? Find out more about BrainStation's User Experience Design Bootcamp

How Do I Become a UI Designer?

There’s no single path to becoming a UI Designer—people enter the discipline from many different fields, drawing on different strengths to inform their work, from design to coding to psychology. But whatever your route to becoming a UI Designer, these are the steps you’ll need to take at some point.

Here are five steps you can take today to help you become a UI Designer:

  • Enroll in a UI design bootcamp or course to learn UI design fundamentals, including gestalt principles, and how balance, alignment, juxtaposition, and more.
  • Brush up on standard design principles, including how to use color and line, shape and texture, images and type.
  • Develop a familiarity with key UI design tools, Photoshop, Sketch, Illustrator, and more.
  • Work on your own design projects to develop your design skills and experience.
  • Develop a portfolio of projects to showcase your work.

How Do I Start a Career in UI Design?

To start a career in UI design, you’ll want to begin by familiarizing yourself with all the different subfields of design, until you’re confident that UI design really is the path for you. Then, dig deeper into what UI Designers do—talk to working UI Designers to learn about the kind work you’ll be doing, get a handle on the basic ideas that drive UI design, and start collecting good advice.

Hone Your Design Skills

There are a set of fundamental principles that all visual Designers rely on—how to use color and line, shape and texture, images and type, and even layout to create an organized hierarchy of information, engage users visually and intellectually, direct their eye or evoke a feeling. Immerse yourself in design. Study what others are doing and deconstruct what works and what doesn’t. Design is an art, not a science, so there are no “right” answers—which means improving your knowledge of design is a lifelong undertaking.

Learn UI Design Tools

It’s at this stage that you’ll want to begin thinking about taking a course in UI design, with a program tailored to include the tools you’ll be working with as a UI Designer: imaging programs like Photoshop; wireframing applications like Sketch, Illustrator, InVision Studio, Adobe XD, Axure, Figma, or Marvel; and prototyping programs like Proto.io, Principle, Flinto, Framer, and ProtoPie. You won’t necessarily need to learn all these programs, as many of the processes are transferable from one platform to another, but you should be familiar with the most popular applications from each category.

Hone Your UI Design Skills

In addition to fundamental design skills, UI also draws on more specialized skills—gestalt principles, and how balance, alignment, juxtaposition, repetition, and contrast are used not only to create a pleasing visual, but also to impart information to the user. You’ll need to know how to use personas to develop a design concept, and the ins and outs of wireframing and prototyping, and user testing.

Make Something

Your portfolio is your most powerful marketing tool. Make it great! Come up with an idea for a project you’re interested in, then chart your progress from start to finish, making note of your process and the creative solutions you’ve come up with at each step. Then, share it on a public platform like GitHub to gain attention and begin growing your network.

Apply for UI Design Jobs

This is pretty self-explanatory. One thing to keep in mind: carefully tailor the pieces you put include in your portfolio to show that you’re a fit for the company you’re applying to and the types of projects you’ll be working on, and to highlight the strengths you’ll be drawing on in your new role. Congratulations! You’re a UI Designer. But—you’re not quite done yet.

Continue to Learn and Grow

Like all creative arts, design can take a lifetime to truly master—there are always new discoveries to make, new innovations to be made. Technology, meanwhile, is always evolving; the tools at a UI Designer’s disposal are virtually endless, and always evolving. What this means is that, as a UI Designer, you can continue to learn throughout your career and will never know it all. For a UI Designer, the excitement of taking on new challenges never ends.

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