Why UI designers won’t be unemployed soon

This is a response to Ariel Verber’s article.

Essentially, Ariel states you should start thinking about your next career move after you lose your UI Designer job. I also get the idea he’s telling us: a) the job is easy, b) another designer can replace you.

According to him, if…

Live by the KISS principle, stick to brand guidelines and make sure not to screw up UX. Got all of these right? Great job! You can work as a UI designer in a top tech company in the Valley, and earn plenty of money.

I strongly disagree.

  1. If you’re a regular Internet user, you would agree with me that at least 9 out of 10 designed “things” we see suck.
  2. You could also say that there are not that many top designers… And top designers are usually the ones companies in the Valley hire for a lot of money.
  3. Finally, well-paying positions are, like in any other industry, limited. Therefore, not anyone will end up working for a company in the Vally earning fortunes, just because he or she understands three simple concepts. Many can understand a thousand concepts and still not be good in practice. In this sense, we could compare design to sports. Nobody does not understand how to play soccer, and yet, only a few play it really really well, and even less of them earn fortunes playing it.

All in all… Understanding 3 simple concepts won’t make you a great UI designer who’s going to end up earning fortunes at the Valley.

But wait, just one thing… If these are the only things that you do, why do we need you, actually? I mean, someone already does the UX for the entire product, and we have all the components for any app ready in our design team’s “components” library. We just need to replace a few icons (we’ll take them from the icon set) and button texts and we’re good to go.

Let’s see: How absurd is this? Reducing everything that UI design involves to “the only things that you do” is somewhat insulting.

Every digital product out there has without fail a user interface. Getting back to what I stated earlier… most of what we see on the Internet sucks. The overall sucks. Not just pictures and illustrations. Whole interfaces with all of its components. If it’s really that easy to design user interfaces, why isn’t everything we see “Apple standard”?

It’s ridiculous to think companies are paying +$100,000 salaries for jobs that are so easy anyone could be doing…

Attempting to expose Ariel’s poor logic even further… I’d love to ask him: Where did all those components that are now in the design team’s “components” library come from? I bet it wasn’t magic.

Well, I’ll tell you my perspective as a UI designer:
You better start thinking about new directions, or you’ll lose your job.

Okay. No…

Before I continue, please check this infographic (took it from here).

The Disciplines of User Experience Design by Envis Precisely

User Interface Design is a wide aspect of Product Design, which also shares a lot with other areas. We can agree that UI design is not simple. It’s actually pretty complex and extensively branched.

A user interface’s visual design is a core component of the whole user experience, although it’s not THE user experience (obviously). The User Experience is the whole set of parts of the product, which gathers many duties and responsibilities for the designer. Thereby, it’s illogical to say that any UX designer can make the visual design decisions a UI designer usually makes. In reality, UX design is slightly more scientific than UI design, which is a much more artistic role. I’m not saying there are no UX/UI designers out there. In fact, there are plenty. But the truth is, the simpler the product, the easier it is to be a UX and UI designer altogether. But, as products get more complex and maybe outside the box, the harder it is to accomplish both roles seamlessly.

So, when dealing with more complex product developments, you should ideally segment design roles, specially UX and UI, to (very briefly…) allow the User Experience designer to focus on functionality and research, and to let the User Interface designer focus on visuals and aesthetics.

If you really understand the complexity User Interface Design represents, you will realize it’s not just all about “a few icons and buttons”… Product Design involves research, A/B testing, iteration, visual design, interaction design, information architecture, motion design, branding, usability, etcetera… So doubting about the dispensability of some roles is, again, ridiculous.

I’m not sure many people will still focus so much about the looks of the interface.

Everybody will, Ariel.

The overall design and experience can be the differential factor in many cases.

I find it really hard to understand your position given that you lived and experienced the Slack revolution. Slack’s chat app differential factor that crippled its competition was achieved with and interface that, and I quote:

Slack has become a cult hit. It’s beloved for its gorgeous, bubbly interface and tons of delightful little interactions throughout the app.

So, are we really arguing User Interface Design is about to desist? Are we really outraging and diminishing the job by lowering it to the comprehension of 3 simple concepts anyone can understand?

Please, designers, let’s take this seriously.

Let’s take ourselves seriously.

Other thoughts…

All that said, I do not want to imply that I’m against everything Ariel said.

It’s true that anybody that understands the digital world, knows that it’s important to keep up to date to avoid losing value.

Yet, I‘m sure the job thousands of UI designers world-wide accomplish daily is not going to disappear anytime soon like Ariel suggests. Given that we humans interact every single day with a User Interface, it becomes unthinkable to picture a world without people devoted to their making.

Even so, if you are really interested in broadening your skillset, I do recommend, as Ariel suggested, learning Illustration, 3D Design, User Experience Design, Interaction Design, Development, of anything else that catches your attention.

Without further ado, I hope I taken away the shock to those who thought to be unemployed soon (if any…).

Thank you for reading. Greetings from Argentina!

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