What Does A UI Designer Do?


A UI designer, also known as a user interface designer is in charge of creating the visual and interactive elements of a user-centred digital product. They take care of the balance between aesthetics and functionality while also keeping in mind the viability of the product and business objectives. What does a UI designer do?

What is UI design?

As mentioned above, the acronym UI stands for User Interface. UI design aims to achieve optimal interaction between people and digital products. This is done by building interfaces (like dashboards) in software or computerised devices by focusing on looks or style. UI design is the framework that establishes the techniques and conventions for creating and optimising media, all while keeping the user at the centre. 

While it is common to get confused between UI and UX, they are both different but complementary aspects of digital product design. While UX design models a pleasant experience for the user, UI focuses on interactions to make them more intuitive and attractive. 

Role Overview - UI Designer
Role Overview – UI Designer

According to Michael Worthington, professor at CalArts in UI design, the user interface is the medium that brings the content of a digital product into contact with its user.

UI designers are in constant interaction and cooperation with UX designers and software developers.

The role of a UI designer

A UI designer’s collaboration with the design and development teams is essential to ensure that interactions with the digital product are intuitive, accessible and relevant.

Additionally, this professional makes sure that the aesthetics are in harmony with the functionality of the product.

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Responsibilities of a UI Designer

A user interface can be analysed according to various aspects, such as:

  • Look & feel
  • Colours, shapes and forms
  • Icons
  • Images
  • Typography

In this sense, the functions of a UI designer range from the definition and selection to the composition of all the formal elements of the UI.

Responsibilities of a UI Designer
Responsibilities of a UI Designer

However, formal aspects are not enough on their own. A user’s behaviour, their expectations and attitudes are what give it meaning. In other words, the UI designer’s responsibilities consist of managing the formal aspects of the user interface, based on the characteristics of the digital product’s target audiences.

The daily activities of a UI designer can be organised based on the life cycle of developing a digital product:

  • Analyse UX research results
  • Design screens and user contact points
  • View product on different screens and devices to check responsive design
  • Create colour palette in harmony with the identity and concept of the digital product
  • Select fonts and typography
  • Define the interactions for each UI element
  • Establish style guides that facilitate product development according to a set of parameters and consistent principles for the user.
  • UI prototype development and testing
  • Create and improve designs
  • Use wireframes and style guides to effectively communicate your interaction ideas 
  • Build storyboards to conceptualise designs and convey project plans to clients and management
  • Provide advice and guidance on the implementation of UX research methodologies

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Skills of a UI Designer

A UI designer stands out for their ability to integrate an aesthetic criteria with a keen practical sense. The professional skills that marks the difference between high-level UI designers and the rest are:

  • Assertive communication
  • Collaboration
  • Attention to detail
  • Empathy

UI designers should have expert knowledge in the methods, theories and practices of UI design. It is also crucial that a UI designer masters each of the formal aspects of the user interface.

Skills of a UI Designer
Skills of a UI Designer

Additionally, the user interface must be accessible to people with disabilities and the elderly. Therefore, a UI designer must know how to create intuitive interactions accessible to audiences with special needs.

Because there are different kinds of UI, – mobile UI, app UI, game UI, etc. – the exact skills needed will vary according to the field a designer is in. More broadly though, a UI designer has experience with user interface layout and prototyping tools such as Adobe XD, InVision and Principle. They must also be familiar with UI libraries such as Motion UI – a Sass library that helps designers create CSS transitions and animations.

Knowledge of the general principles of perception –  particularly colour, shape, shape, and proportions is also important as it will help predict user perceptions and interactions.

Animation in UI – is it a necessary skill? 

Animation is a wonderful craft and a profession on its own but it’s not an essential skill for a UI Designer. However, Carlos Villarreal Kwasek – artist & co-founder at Wild Games, believes it is a beneficial skill. 

According to him, creating a good UI is a job that involves the UI designer and their team. So being able to communicate effectively with them is a must-have skill and animation can help you with that. 

For example, for UI designers working in the gaming industry, animating your designs will  help you explain your solutions to game designers better. It can also help you create a vision for the user interface which can then be channelled to the entire team in presentations or meetings. 

You can also learn animation to show the tech team your concepts and make them understand better how your designs should behave. 

What are the skills of a UI designer?

  • Demonstrable UI design skills with a strong portfolio
  • Ability to define colour palettes according to the brand identity and characteristics of the digital product
  • Detailed knowledge of typography and fonts
  • Understanding of UX research findings for UI Design
  • Experience creating storyboards and site mapping
  • Experience with designing icons, buttons and other user interaction objects
  • Mastery of calls to action or call-to-action to guide the interaction within the digital product
  • Experience with prototyping and layout of interfaces in Adobe XD, InVision, Principle, Proto.io and Figma, among others
  • Experience using tools such as Photoshop, Sketch, Illustrator, InVision, UXPin, Quartz.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Creative ideas with problem solving mindset
  • Strong time-management skills

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Background and training

The level of responsibility and the complexity of projects both considerably influence the requirements that companies have when hiring a professional for this role.

In general, companies expect UI designers to have training in graphic design and/or visual arts, with specialised training in UI design. Additionally, experience and training in web design are valued.

An important aspect for most companies is experience in digital product design projects, in addition to a portfolio that demonstrates the quality of the work performed and verifiable references.

Prototypes, mockups and solutions in general require collaboration between different professionals. Therefore, it is common to require the use of specific specialised software, such as those we mentioned above.

Education requirements

The academic profile of a UI designer usually comes from a more aesthetic than technical background, which is why it is more common to find designers that have a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic design, Art, Web design or a related field. 

However, it is not so strange to find software developers who have ended up dedicating themselves to the more aesthetic aspects of technology.

Postgraduate and continuing education programs in UI design are an excellent complement to the professional training of designers.

If you want to learn a little more about this discipline, there are online courses with which you can train in UI design. Check these out down below:

How much do UI Designers make?

In the US, the average annual salary for a UI designer is around $89,000. The standard salary range is between $57,000 and $139,600.

In Germany, the salary range for these designers is between €43,000 – €55,000 whereas in the UK, the range is between £43,000 – £63,000.

In Spain, the average annual salary is €31,500, with a range between €26,000 and €39,000.

Keep in mind that factors such as level of experience, location and company considerably influence the salary of a UI designer.

How much do UI designers make?

US$57,000 – $139,600
Germany€43,000 – €55,000
UK£43,000 – £63,000
Spain€26,000 – €39,000

How much do freelance UI designers make?

UI Designers on freelancermap charge on average:


Rates in the UI Industry range between $40 and $96/hour for most freelancers.

The daily rate for UI Designers (8 working hours) would be around:

Stand 27/01/2023

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Stefania Volpe

Stefania joined the international team at freelancermap in 2020. She loves marketing, the digital world, foreign languages and meeting different cultures. She moved from Italy to Germany thanks to an exchange program at the university and worked as marketing manager for several startups. Now she focuses on helping freelancers and IT professionals to find jobs and clients worldwide at www.freelancermap.com.

By Stefania Volpe

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