In the age where most of the world connects to the internet daily, roughly all tech-related fields are rapidly growing. Two areas experiencing particular increases are the oft-paired user interface design (UI) and user experience design (UX). Organizations regularly hire professionals in these fields, guaranteeing their users have a pleasant and user-friendly experience with their websites and mobile apps. Dogged by competition across the market, businesses can't solely rely on having a functional tool―their product must be aesthetically pleasing and easy to use across the board, putting both UI and UX designers in high demand. 

If you want a new UI/UX design career, keep reading to learn what UI/UX design entails, the differences between the two and their tools.

What is UI/UX Design?

When you visit a website, what is the navigation like? What features do you see? What is the color scheme? Everything from content to layout makes a difference in your experience―and it's up to talented UI and UX designers to ensure your experience is positive. Whenever you browse the web, you unwittingly participate in the result of UI and UX design work. 

These designers are why websites no longer look and feel like they did in the early 2000s. Even over the short span of five years, designers can alter the landscape of web browsing by way of the natural evolution of their work. 

Most large companies today employ UI/UX designers to create and maintain their web presence, but these designers don't work exclusively in web development. They also assist in designing and presenting products, services, software programs, games and more. 

Keeping within the context of web development, UI and UX designers collaborate with the common goal of making a website function smoothly. While these professions share similarities, the two fields approach the end goal differently.

UI vs UX Design

It is not uncommon to see the terms UX and UI design used interchangeably, though they're different. So what do the terms actually mean? While the two positions typically go hand in hand, each has different requirements, job duties and skills.

User interface (UI) design concerns what users see on an application's screen―text, colors, backgrounds, icons and animated elements, which is why UI design overlaps with graphic design; graphic design education and experience in product design are fitting for UI designers. A UI designer works to build graphical user interfaces in software or computerized devices, focusing on looks or style.

User experience (UX) design studies how users navigate the various elements of the UI. A UX designer works to focus the flow of the user experience, eradicating any sources of disharmony when humans interact with a product. UX designers must know the methods and tools for studying user behaviors so they may translate their insights into design guidelines.

While UI manages the aesthetics of a digital product, UX manages how all UI elements work together to construct a seamless user experience. They're team members.

A UX/UI designer blends these two areas by executing user research first and then incorporating the findings in the visual design through mockups, wireframes and prototypes. These are then tested, and user feedback is collected to inform further changes and bring the product to the best possible condition before launch.

What Does a UI/UX Designer Do?

A UX/UI designer's daily responsibilities depend on their projects, the company, priorities and the size of their team. However, there are some general functions that a UX/UI designer can expect to perform. 

Here's a brief list of usual job tasks for designers.

User Research

Research, the first phase in the UX design process, can take different forms. From desk-based to field research, the goal is to get a comprehensive look at the target audience of the product or service.

How do UX/UI designers research users? Here are several example tasks:

  • Assessing the current products or services produced by the competition.

  • Consulting existing users for their feedback.

  • Creation of user personas, including all relevant details.

  • Discerning potential opportunities based on the findings of users.

These tasks give the designer insights into the core features necessary to create the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). An MVP is the first version of a product; it has the bare minimum of features that allow it to be used by early-adopter customers who can then provide feedback, the purpose being to validate a product idea early in the development cycle. 

The user research phase enables teams to scope out the project, identify their target audience and determine what the key user goals and challenges are with the product. 

Creating User Personas 

Using their user research, UX/UI designers build user personas to explore in greater depth the tasks every persona wants to complete and why. A standard persona includes demographic data and info about preferences, habits, likes, dislikes and connections to trends.

Another common approach used in conjunction with (or instead of) user personas is Jobs-To-Be-Done (JTBD). However, JTBD is geared less toward the hypothetical user and more toward what the actual users aim to achieve by using a product. 

Forming the Information Architecture

Next, designers consider what content they should display in products or marketing materials. This is where they brainstorm how all the essential information could be structured across the website or app. This is known as information architecture, which consists of working out the most compelling content layout and organization. 

Information architecture is important because it ensures users can easily navigate the product or website, locate what they need and speedily meet their goals.

Establishing User Flows and Wireframes

UX/UI designers utilize various tools to represent the user's journey through a product, a couple of them being user flow and wireframing tools. 

User flows are basic flowcharts that visualize a user's path moving through an app or webpage. They help determine how many pages the user needs to finish a task effortlessly. 

Wireframes focus on exploring the multiple ways a single page could be designed. Visually, they are sketches of a single screen or page of a website represented in as many ways as a designer can think of. Designers support this process with tools that allow them to make sketches swiftly, communicating their intentions simply yet accurately.

Prototyping and User Testing

Once designers have decided on the product layout, they move on to building the prototypes for running initial user tests. A prototype is a scaled-down product version that allows teams to test their designs before giving them to development. Prototypes can be simple paper models or high-fidelity interactive prototypes that closely imitate the final product.

Testing prototypes on real users helps identify design flaws before investing in the final product. Multiple rounds of testing may be required before the design is perfect. 

Assistance with Development

Designers are still part of the process when the product enters the development phase. They attend meetings, oversee product development and adjust the design if needed. They also participate in creating features for new releases and evaluate user feedback. 

Visual Design

This is where a UX/UI designer decides the final imagery, color schemes, icons and typography. It's also where creative visual artistry packs a punch, especially if the designer has an art background.

What Software Do UX/UI Designers Use? 

The best software for UI/UX designers depends on their individual needs and preferences, so the toolbox for creating website interfaces and apps that are sleek and user-friendly includes a variety of programs. 

Here are some of the most popular:

  • Adobe Photoshop.

    • Free trial.

    • Features and capabilities are unmatched.

    • Create pixel-based graphics and logos.

    • Beginner-friendly.

  • Adobe Illustrator.

    • Free trial.

    • Similar interface to Photoshop.

    • Create vector-based illustrations.

    • Learning curve.

  • Adobe InDesign.

    • Free trial.

    • Industry-leading layout and page design.

    • Create beautiful graphic designs with typography.

    • Learning curve.

  • Adobe XD.

    • Free trial.

    • Prototyping tool.

    • Complex and detailed design tools.

    • Beginner-friendly.

  • Sketch.

    • Free.

    • Create mockups, wireframes and prototypes.

    • Vector-based illustrations.

    • Beginner-friendly.

  • Inkscape.

    • Free.

    • Comparable to the capabilities of Illustrator.

    • Beginner-friendly.

Become a UI/UX Designer

While UX/UI developers primarily focus on website design, they're also responsible for putting it all together using code―making programming skills their top priority. Though a college degree is helpful, you don't necessarily need one to succeed in UX/UI design. Through the Stony Brook University UI/UX Design Bootcamp, you can learn the skills you need to land a job, even as a beginner.

UI/UX Designer Job FAQs

By now you have an understanding of what a UI/UX designer does, but you probably still have questions. We have compiled a list of some of the most common questions that are asked below:

Q: Is UI/UX design right for me?

If you are interested in design and want to create user-friendly and visually appealing products, then UI/UX design may be right for you. It is important to have a strong understanding of both UI and UX design, as well as coding skills, to be successful in this field. If you can solve problems and have strong communication skills, then you would be a great fit for a career in UI/UX design. We find that the following personality traits are common among designers who thrive at their jobs:


Designers need to be creative to come up with new and innovative ideas for their products. They need to think outside the box and find ways to make their products both visually appealing and user-friendly. This can be a challenge, but it is also what makes the job interesting and rewarding.


UX designers need to be analytical to understand how users interact with a product and identify any pain points. They need to be able to think critically and come up with solutions to problems. Additionally, they need to be analytical to understand the needs of users and translate them into design requirements.

Problem-Solving Skills

UI/UX designers need problem-solving skills to identify and solve any pain points that users may experience when using a product. Additionally, they need to be able to identify any problems with the design of a product and come up with solutions. Problem-solving skills are essential for designers as they are constantly faced with new challenges and need to find innovative solutions.

Strong Communication Skills

UI/UX designers need strong communication skills to communicate effectively with team members and stakeholders. They need to be able to explain their designs and justify their decisions. Additionally, they need to be able to understand the needs of users and communicate them to the rest of the team. Strong communication skills allow designers to effectively collaborate with team members and stakeholders to create a product that is both visually appealing and user-friendly.

Attention to Detail

Designers need to pay attention to detail to create a product that is both visually appealing and user-friendly. If a designer does not pay attention to detail, the end result may be a product that is not aesthetically pleasing or easy to use. Additionally, if a designer does not pay attention to detail, they may miss important design requirements that can impact the usability of a product.

Passion for Design

UI/UX designers need a passion for design to create products that are both visually appealing and user-friendly. If a designer does not have a passion for design, they may not be able to come up with innovative ideas or solve problems effectively. Additionally, if a designer is not passionate about their work, they may not be motivated to do their best and may produce subpar work. A passion for design allows designers to thrive in their field and create beautiful and user-friendly products.

Q: Will UI/UX Design Be Automated?

There is a possibility that UI/UX design will be automated in the future, but it is not likely to happen anytime soon. Automated design tools are currently unable to replicate the creativity and problem-solving skills of a human designer. Additionally, automated design tools are not able to understand the needs of users and translate them into design requirements.

UI/UX design is difficult to automate because it requires creativity, problem-solving skills, and the ability to understand the needs of users. Additionally, UI/UX designers need to be able to communicate effectively with team members and stakeholders. Until automated design tools can replicate these abilities, UI/UX design will not be automated.

Q: How Do You Measure The User Experience?

There are various methods for assessing user experience in UI/UX design. One technique is to utilize analytics to observe how consumers use a product. This may help find any pain points or mistakes with the design. Another approach for measuring the user experience is through user interviews. This allows designers to obtain feedback from customers regarding their experiences with a product. Designer surveys are also a great way to collect quantitative data which can be used to measure the user experience.

Q: How Do You Improve The User Experience?

There are various methods for improving the user experience with UI/UX design. One approach is to perform user research to identify any pain points or areas of improvement. This research can be used to create design requirements that will improve the user experience. Additionally, designers can use feedback from users to improve the usability of a product. Utilizing analytics is also a great way to improve the user experience by observing how users interact with a product. Finally, designers can always continue to learn and stay up-to-date on best practices to create the best possible user experience.

Learn more about the Stony Brook University UI/UX Design Bootcamp, which is designed to bring you from a beginner to a career-ready UX professional. This intensive program provides you with the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in this in-demand field.