How to Become a UI Designer

UI Designer

UI designers work on the user interface of a website, app, machine, or other software. They plan and co-ordinate the visual aspects of a design to help the user have a pleasant and productive encounter with their product

A UI designer works with brand guidelines, client interests, and technology, to design a practical and aesthetically pleasing interface. They create features like graphics, colour schemes, typography, and animation to ensure that the product looks good, and more importantly, is easy to use and navigate and meets user’s requirements.

UI design is often confused with UX design – and sometimes, the same person will do both jobs. However, the two processes are very different, although they work towards the same goal. UX design analyses products and asks questions that can help to generate the best user experience. UI designers have a much more artistic role, taking the UX designer’s findings and creating the products accordingly. UX design creates the structure of a project, and UI design adds the aesthetics to make it ready for use.

Being a UI designer includes duties such as:

  • Working from wireframes set up by the UX design team, brand guidelines, client requests, and their own artwork and knowledge, to create an interface.
  • Maintaining an on-going conversation with the client to ensure that the product is constantly meeting their requirements.
  • Senior or self-employed UI designers will put quotes for projects together.
  • Ensuring that the finished product meets expectations set by the UX design team and clients, and that it is appealing to the target audience.
  • Making sure that the interface is mobile and tablet-friendly.
  • Collaborating with UX designers, web developers, graphic designers, sales, and marketing departments.
  • Using analytics to see how well users interact with interfaces and using this information to make future UI design choices.

It is entirely possible to become a UI designer with no degree, or with an unrelated degree, but some subjects that may be beneficial to succeeding in this field are graphic design, art, or multimedia design. College diplomas in similar subjects are also a great way to get into this career.

However, many people choose to take a UI design course, with or without tertiary education. These courses give candidates all the necessary skills for being a UI designer, and most importantly, ample opportunities for creating a great portfolio.

A portfolio is the most significant part of a prospective UI designer’s application. They will need to provide real-life examples of what they have done, as well as the steps that they took to get there. Those who want to become a UI designer with no experience and who haven’t got a portfolio from a UI course should look at creating hypothetical interfaces, or volunteering to redesign something for a brand.

During a course or self-teaching, UI designers should become proficient in all of the software needed for user design, including InDesign and Sketch. UI designers should also have a good knowledge of web development and might want to also learn about UX design, as they may find that they are expected to do both jobs in one position.

UI boot camps are held in most cities are great places to learn new skills and network; there are also plenty of virtual meetups and chat rooms for new UI designers. Many UI jobs are in-house, but some UI designers who have particularly strong portfolios choose to work on a freelance basis from the beginning of their career.

UI designers need to be team players and great communicators, as they will be working with their colleagues on a shared product. Due to the nature of their design, they should be analytical and pay keen attention to detail. They should also be prepared to have their work constantly scrutinized and subject to constructive criticism, and be able to adapt accordingly.


What degree is most commonly held by a UI Designer?

  • Bachelor of Arts - BA
  • Design and Visual Communications, General
  • Digital Media
  • BachelorWeb Page, Digital/Multimedia and Information Resources Design
  • Bachelor of Design
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts - BFA

Career Transportability across Countries

Transportability: High
As increasing numbers of the world turn over to tech, UI designers are becoming more and more in demand, and experienced UI designers with strong portfolios may find it easy to acquire work in other countries. Indeed, the principles of UI design are universal; a UI designer working for a local company in another country should have some cultural awareness, but the main concept of their job should remain the same. Furthermore, many UI designers work on a freelance basis, so many companies are happy to hire foreign nationals to work remotely.

What is the Salary of a UI Designer?

Experience Average salary | year
UI Designer 1-3 yrs $61,000 £35,000 $57,552
UI Designer (Senior) 3-5 yrs $94,000 £54,200 $89,100
Head of UI 5-10 yrs $156,000 £90,000 $148,000

What skills are needed to become a UI Designer?

  • Graphic Design
  • User Interface Design
  • Adobe Creative Suite
  • Web Design
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Illustrator
  • Interaction Design
  • Wireframing
  • InDesign
  • Logo Design
  • User Experience (UX)
  • HTML
  • Typography
  • User Experience
  • InVision
  • Microsoft Office
  • CSS
  • Social Media
  • Sketch App
  • Art Direction
  • User Experience Design
  • User-centered Design
  • Prototyping

UI Design Courses

Candidates for UI design roles should be doing all they can to learn about the industry. Supplementary courses can give an excellent grounding in the field, as well as inspiration for portfolio pieces. We have plenty of related courses available at FutureLearn that can help start someone on the path to becoming a UI designer.

  • Create Accessible Interfaces

    Learn how to program inclusive creative interfaces for disabled users while meeting legal accessibility requirements

  • Programming with GUIs

    Learn what a Graphical User Interface is and write your own GUI-based applications with this practical course for teachers

  • Introduction to UX and Accessible Design

    Explore the world of user interfaces and accessible design and discover how you can start a career as a UX designer

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