Have you heard of Hey email? It’s a new email platform from the creators of Basecamp. It was widely spoken about and actively embraced by millions of people even before it launched. Do you know what’s different about Hey? The user experience. The team at Hey have entirely redesigned the way people think of email. Take this feature description, for instance: “It takes a step back and looks at email as a system — not just a set of features”. So, if you’ve ever wondered, what does a UI UX designer do? This! A UX designer’s role is to draw from a wide range of skills in design, communication, psychology, sociology, and technology to share user experiences. In this blog post, we’ll get into the details of a UI UX designer job description. We’ll also explore what a day in the life of a UI/UX designer looks like.

What Does a UI UX Designer Do?

UI/UX designers construct the way users experience products. These could be all kinds of digital products — websites, mobile apps, tablet apps, desktop apps, e-commerce checkouts, games and so on. A UI UX designer is responsible for:

  • Gathering user requirements, conducting research and identifying problems to be solved with UX design.
  • Identifying design techniques and approaches to solve the problem.
  • Creating information architecture, sitemaps, process flow, storyboards, etc.
  • Creating prototypes, wireframes, and mock-ups.
  • Designing interface, styles, icons, and animations.
  • Conduct usability testing.

Before getting into the day in the life of a designer, let’s understand UX and UI.

What is UX?

UX stands for user experience, which governs how your user feels about their interaction with your app or webpage. 

  • Was it comfortable and convenient? 
  • Did the user understand what’s on the page? 
  • Was it clear where they need to go next?
  • Did they perform the action they desired?
  • Did they enjoy their experience?

What is UI?

UI stands for user interface, which governs what your user uses to interact with your app or webpage — the buttons and links they click, the fields they fill, the menus they drop down are all features of the interface. UI is a subset of UX, one of the many things that dictate the user’s experience with a product or service.

What is UI UX design?

No product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all of the stages of a product or service — from initial intentions through final reflections, from first usage to help, service, and maintenance. Make them all work together seamlessly.— Don Norman, American researcher and pioneer of user experience

UI/UX design is shaping the experience of the user when they are interacting with the product — how the product works, flows from one step to the next and is intuitive and convenient for the user to handle. A UX designer would iterate through this experience until they find the best solutions, analyse and test repeatedly to optimise the product so that the users can make the most out of it. The UI designer’s part of it, as you can probably tell by now, is to ensure that the visual aspects of the user’s experience are in place.

A Day in the Life of a UI/UX Designer

In a UI/UX designer’s job, no two days are the same. The role is one that brings together a wide range of functions — research, planning, mapping user journey, building prototypes, testing, designing screens, and so on. Sometimes, all of this can happen in a day. Let’s look at what one of these days might look like.

9:00 AM Coffee, emails and planning for the day

Like every role in today’s workplaces, the first task is to settle in, check messages and plan for the day. They might have received feedback on designs, briefs for new assignments, responses to surveys they sent out, etc. It is important that a UI/UX designer carefully processes all this information and responds accordingly. They need stellar communication skills, even before they get started.

10:00 AM User experience research 

Research is an important and underrated part of UX/UI. This research could be of many kinds. For instance, they might be looking at web/mobile usage analytics to spot trends. Here, the UX designer will look at the usage analytics of the product to see what are the most used features, what are the least used features, at what point does the user exit, etc. to make corresponding improvements to the product.

Or analysing responses to questionnaires, interviews, field studies, etc. Finding creative ways to understand the user is the fundamental job of a UX UI designer.

Or they might be studying the latest developments in the field of design. Platforms like iOS or Android might make changes to their ecosystem, adopt new design styles, introduce new preferred languages, etc. A designer needs to stay on top of these changes.

11:30 AM User experience design

The research stage gives a clear and current understanding of the user, serving as input for the actual design of the product. Based on these insights, a UX designer will create the experience for the user. This involves several techniques and practices.

  • Creating customer personas
  • User journey mapping
  • Writing storyboards
  • Building the information architecture
  • Creating wireframes
  • Building prototypes

UX designers need to be well-versed with UX tools like Adobe XD, Balsamiq, InVision, Figma, etc. to effortlessly bring their ideas to design.

2:00 PM User interface design

It is here that a UI/UX designer wears the UI designer’s hat. They will build interfaces for their products — websites, mobile app screens, gaming consoles, smart TV apps, etc. Even though user experience is a lot more than the UI, this is the most visible part of a product. In many cases, users might conflate the UI for the product. So, UI design is critical.

  • UI designers use knowledge of brand design, colours, shapes and typography to create optimum combinations
  • They choose and design interface elements like input controls, menus, accordions, icons, pagination, etc.
  • They design micro-animations for engagement
  • They sometimes also write copy for the application

From Photoshop and Illustrator to Sketch and Figma, there are a wide range of tools that can be used to make interface elements. A designer will have expert-level skills in one tool and comfort in 1-2 more.

3:30 PM Observational research

Another important part of a UI/UX designer’s job is what’s called observational research. As the name suggests, a UX designer sits with sample users and observes the way they interact with the product. For instance, 

  • How long do they take to find what they need?
  • Are they scrolling through a list or searching for it?
  • Are they happier if the terms and conditions are explicit or assumed etc.?

5:00 PM Presentation to the CXO 

If you thought a UI/UX designer’s role is limited to the desk, you’ll be surprised. Designers spend a good part of their time interacting with members of other teams, users as well as product/organisational leaders. They made presentations outlining their insights and ideas. They influence leaders from varied backgrounds about human-centred design. Often, they also advocate on behalf of the designer in front of the business teams.

6:00 PM Wrap up and passive design

A designer’s work isn’t done when the clock strikes 6 pm. While they might wrap up and leave the workplace, they passively consume designs and imagine possibilities throughout the day. They might even do the following tasks –

  • Try out new apps in the market
  • Look at offline designs and consider their applications for digital products
  • Spend time away from the desk thinking about the impact of their design
  • Discuss their challenges with peers/friends/family members

In a way, a design professional’s job is never done — one doesn’t just do UI/UX design to become UI/UX designers. A UI/UX designer portfolio will show a unique bridge between technology and the arts. There is certain artistry in being able to design visuals that shape feelings and influence actions. There is also the precision of technology — engineering and software development — that makes products work.

This exciting work requires a sophisticated range of skills. If you’re interested in a UI/UX design career, consider Springboard’s UI/UX design career track. It offers job-ready curriculum, hands-on projects, 1:1 mentorship, career coaching and a job guarantee!

P.S: If you haven’t checked out Hey email, you must do so now! It’s a masterclass in rethinking user experience.