The User Interface Design Process
Practice User Interface Design
If you just started out as a user interface designer, you’ll need to have had some practice before beginning working as a professional UI designer. Luckily there are many ways you can start to practice user interface design. One of these places is FakeClients.com. FakeClients is a website that is made for design and illustration practice. You can also practice user interface design on FakeClients now. Simply go to FakeClients.com/UI and press start. It will then generate a practice brief for user interface design. You can then practice using one of these generated UI design briefs by working on it as if it was a brief from a real client. Not only will this allow you to easily get some practice without working for real clients yet, but it will also allow you to build up a portfolio if you haven’t had any clients.
User Interface Design Research
Before you actually start with the design part of the user interface design process, you’ll always need to do some research. Skipping this part is a mistake many beginners make because it doesn’t seem important at first. It can be one of the most important parts of the user interface design process, however. If you do not do your research you do not know who you are designing for, what the goal is and what message you want to bring over. A good example that displays the importance of this is the difference between an app that is designed for the elderly compared to an app that is designed for teens. Snapchat, for example, is an app that was specifically designed for teens. The interface is easy to understand and use for the age group it was made for but way harder to use for older people that just got their first smartphone. And research is not only important for the age-group you are designing for. What goals do the users have when using the interface? What goals does the company you’re designing for have? This is only a small selection of the questions you’ll need to be asking yourself when you’re doing research for a user interface design.
Start with Sketches
Once you know more about the goals you need to set for your design after doing your research, you can start actually designing your user interface. Most experienced designers will actually recommend you not to start designing on a computer but to start with a pencil and a piece of paper. This way, it’s easier to quickly get your ideas from your head onto paper, literally. Start thinking of ways the UI is laid out generally using wireframe sketches. Don’t settle on one idea too quickly as this can limit yourself in terms of coming up with other creative solutions that might work even better. This is why sketching can be so useful, it’s easily the quickest way of realizing your ideas. After this, go more into detail with your sketches. You can even start experimenting with different colors already to see what works best. These sketches don’t have to be detailed. You just want to know what goes where so you can easily finish your design digitally.
Digital User Interface Design
When you are sure about what you want to do in terms of your user interface design, you can start with the digital aspect of the design process. The great thing about doing user interface design research and sketching out your ideas is that most of your work is already done. You know pretty much what you want to do and how you want to achieve the goals of the business you’re designing for, using your design. Start the digital process by importing your sketches into your favorite design software. A lot of UI designers use Adobe Illustrator for their user interface designs but ‘Sketch’ (for mac) has also become very popular lately, among UI designers. It doesn’t actually matter a lot what software you are using, as most of them can achieve the same results. It is mostly about personal preference and what works best and what is easiest for you. In this part of the process, you can really get into the details of the interface design. Find out the perfect colors, shadows, and gradients for your design. Just like I stated in the sketching part, don’t limit yourself to just one design, try out a lot of different things and work them out even if they look off at first. This way, when you feel you have finished your design and you are happy with the result, you can still look back at the other designs and compare all your different versions to find the best or combine the ones you like most.
Testing your Design
When you have finished your designs, it’s always a good idea to test them after that. When you have been staring at your designs for a few hours you often overlook certain issues or mistakes that you hadn’t thought about. This is why it’s always smart to have someone else look at your designs and maybe even try them out if you created a prototype for your interface design. Try to see if the testing users use your interface design the same way that you intended it to be used and see if they may even find new ways of using it. If you don’t have someone to test or look at your design, it always helps to step away from the design for a few hours or days and come back to it at a later time. You’ll often have a different perspective than you had in the beginning and you may even see things you didn’t see when you were designing it.