IT Language of UI/UX Designer
What does a UI/UX designer do? What is the difference between UI and UX? What words and expressions do you need to know to become a successful designer?
In this article
— Today, the definition of "designer" is completely distorted. Most people associate this word with someone who draws pictures and cares only about what the result of their work looks like. Kirill Nikitin, Lead Product Designer, explains that in fact, design is about how things work. A designer is closer to an engineer with a highly developed sense of beauty. This is definitely true of designers in IT.
Types of design
— One of the most common job titles in IT is "UI/UX designer." Sometimes "UI" and "UX" are separated, and those who want to look cool may use the now-fashionable "Product designer" title. In fact, at the most basic level, these job titles are all about the same thing. The task of each of these people is to create something that the user will fall in love with and will use repeatedly. It's just that each role has a slightly different focus.
- UI (User Interface) is what the user actually sees and interacts with. Text, images, buttons, fields, forms, etc. User interface even refers to the switches on your stove or other appliance. I confess that I often swear at household appliances because I don't like how their interface is designed.
- UX (User Experience) refers to how the user feels when using something. "Do they understand what is happening and what can be accomplished? Did they get the end result that they wanted? What did they want, what did they come here for?" All of these questions relate to UX design.
In my opinion, a really good designer should be well versed in both directions. That is probably why the most popular vacancy listings still combine both UI and UX.
Popular designer terms
— Both UI and UX can be described by a set of processes and specific "pieces" that can be done. You need to know the terms and slang associated with each.
UI design includes:
- Wireframe. Low fidelity wireframes are schematic images of the interface. They can be executed even on paper with a pencil. They are the essence, the skeleton — the initial representation of the design.
- Layout is the presentation. It shows the elements of the design and how the interface will look when developers "work their magic on it."
- User flow shows the path that a user will take to interact with your designs. It is usually a set of screens and a storyboard for each user step.
- Prototype refers to a model or sample version of the product combining designs and user flow into a pseudo-working application. In reality, it is just a presentation in which you can press buttons, and cause a corresponding screen to appear.
- A component is an interface element that can be reused. Is it wasteful to draw a button every time? Yes. That's why we use a component — it's the same element everywhere, just modified as appropriate, with different text, for example.
- A design system is a set of components and the rules by which designs are assembled. The components may be buttons, fields, and sometimes whole parts of a page or screen. To avoid a product that looks motley and as though it was assembled from different incompatible parts, like Frankenstein's monster, designers invent rules by which the product will be created.
UX design includes:
- Research generally combines a bunch of methods to learn what end users need and want, then uses the results to improve the design process.
- User interview means exactly what it sounds like. If you want to understand what a person wants, the most logical thing is to ask them, isn’t it? This is a research method that involves engaging with our potential user to figure out what we should do to make them want to use our product.
- User persona is a generalized description of the user for whom we are making the product. It helps us remember, during the process, that we are not just doing some super-duper thing for processing a bunch of data with a cool AI neuron, but that, most importantly, we are solving a specific user problem.
- User story refers to a short statement about a design requirement written from a user’s perspective; it is basically the same as the user problem that we need to solve. For example, choosing a hotel for a vacation. Or, at a more detailed level, understanding whether breakfast is included in the price of the hotel.
- Design validation is a check, an assessment. "Does the unicorn that we invented really solve the user's problem?" You can come up with something that will do almost anything, but if it doesn’t solve the problem you were focusing on, it will be sad and painful.
- Usability testing is the process of showing your prototype to the user, or perhaps a group of representative users, and trying to figure out how easy it is for them to complete various tasks.
- Analytics refers to the qualitative information as well as the "magic numbers" that show you how users experience your product, to guide and inform design changes.
Dictionary of an “effective” manager — things you may hear from your manager and what they really mean:
- "Will we make the font bigger?" "Can we highlight that in red?" Questions like this mean that your manager wants more emphasis on some element. But we are already excellent designers (or we will be) and we understand that the desired accent can be achieved in another, more effective, way.
- "Let's do this..." A conversation that includes this phrase from your manager may mean that your manager does not understand how to frame the task and is instead trying to "play designer" using your hands. Nothing good will come of this. To get things back on track, always ask, "What problem do I need to solve?"
- "Need it yesterday!" Sadly, this can mean that your manager is categorically incompetent and cannot fulfill their main duty — planning. Run away quickly!