Addressing Misconceptions of UI & UX — Part 2 : But I’m not an artist or coder.

With these buzzterms being thrown around through out various industries these days, it is no wonder that many are trying to figure out how they can get into the field of User Interface & User Experience Design. If you have not read the first part, you can find it here.

Previously, I have talked about the key differences between User Interface Design and User Experience Design, as well as discussed some of the things you should know before you apply to be a UI/UX designer.

As an educator, as well as an employer, one of the most common reasons I hear when telling someone I think they would make a good UI or UX designer is this:

“But I’m not good at art or illustration / I can’t draw.”

You don’t need to be an artist to be a designer, and there are plenty of graphic designers out there who are unable to draw more than a stick figure. That’s what artists and illustrators are for. Can’t draw? Get a freelancer who can. And that’s the thing. Even Graphic Designers can do their job without being able to draw. So why can’t you be an Interface Designer?

The only drawing you are likely going to be drawing as an interface designer.

As a User Interface Designer, your main job is to ensure that the users are able to locate all the functions they should have access to, without having to call up a help-line or visiting an Apple store to ask the Geniuses where the function is. In the earliest stages, you will probably be dealing with whiteboards, glass walls, post-its and scraps of paper. No drawing skill needed.

Once you’ve locked down on the rough wire-frame layout of the interface, your next step is to make sure that the (surprise!) graphic designer puts the right colours in the right places. Yep. Could be your job, could be someone else’s job. After making sure that the right colours are in the right places, you will make sure that it’s not some crazy combination that’s going to hurt the users eyes, and that buttons look like buttons, and that you can actually read the words on the screen. That’s pretty much it. That’s your real job.

As for User Experience Design, the ability to draw is even further down your list. You will most likely be working with mind maps more often than not, and discuss user behaviours.

UX Designers, 90% of your job looks like this.

Considering the fact that UX designers are required in pretty much any field, it is extremely likely that you will never have to do any half-decent illustration ever in your entire career — unless you wanted to, just because.

So, no, the inability to draw anything to save your life does not prevent you from joining the ranks of career designers, even less so when you are talking about UI and UX Design.

Usually at this point, the second most common excuse will appear —

“But I can’t code either”

Once again, the ability to code is not a pre-requisite. Unless you are applying to be a front-end developer, or a web designer. Even games designer may not actually be able to quote (more about that another time). And as UI and UX designers…You definitely don’t have to know how to code — even though I did mention it as a skill that is good to have.

As a UI designer, once you’ve done your wireframes, and have worked with the graphic designer to “prettify” the layout, your next stop is with the developer. The codes are their job. Knowing a little about code helps you speak their lingo, and make the workflow much smoother. It also enables you to make on-the-spot changes to a prototype while presenting it to the client. But that’s not a requirement. It’s just a useful skill to have.

Nope. Not your job. Really.

If you have ever thought about becoming a UI or UX designer, the real skills that you would most definitely need are:

  1. The ability to observe behaviours
  2. And then to understand said behaviours
  3. Based on Behavioural Sciences
  4. And other research
  5. Plan a logical userflow
  6. That will manipulate the user’s behaviours in way that you want
  7. And implement the plan with the help of graphic artists and developers.

TLDR; Not being a awesome-sauce artist that can illustrate a life-like animal or being a super-hacker doesn’t stop you from being a UI or UX Designer. Observation, Research, Deduction and Logic are the skills you really need.