UI Designer Job Descriptions And What They Really Mean: A Comprehensive Guide To Your UI Job Search

UI Designer Job Descriptions And What They Really Mean: A Comprehensive Guide To Your UI Job Search

Emily Stevens

If you’re a budding UI designer trying to break into the industry, you’ll spend a lot of time sifting through job ads.

Perhaps you’re a UI designer with a few years’ experience, seeking your next challenge in the form of a new role.

Either way, searching for jobs is a time-consuming yet necessary endeavor — so how can you make it less painful and more productive?

We’ll show you how.

In this guide, we’re going to shed some much-needed light on UI designer job descriptions and what they really mean. First, though, we’ll show you where to find relevant UI job ads. We’ll also take a look at how employers distinguish between different levels of seniority in the UI design field, exploring which UI design skills are essential and which are simply nice-to-have.

In this guide, we will cover:

  1. A list of the most useful online job boards for UI design roles
  2. The UX/UI conundrum: Why are UX and UI roles often advertised as one?
  3. UI designer job descriptions: What skills and experience are required?
  4. Junior UI designer roles
  5. Mid-weight UI designer roles
  6. Senior UI designer roles
  7. Key takeaways and further reading

There’s more to UI designer job descriptions than you might think, so don’t start your job search without this guide to hand.

1. Searching for UI design jobs

Before we start looking at UI designer job descriptions in detail, you need to know where to focus your job search. To help you get started, here are some of the most useful online portals for design jobs:

When searching these portals for UI design roles, you may notice that there’s a huge variety in the results that come up.

If you search for “UI designer” or “user interface designer” jobs on Indeed, for example, you’ll get between 2500 and 6000 results. However, the job ads shown feature a range of different job titles, such as product designer, web designer, brand designer and visual designer. Be sure to read these job descriptions carefully; it may just be a UI designer role hiding under a different name!

You’ll also see that a search for UI designer roles pulls up a lot of UX designer job ads. So what’s the deal with that?!

2. The UX/UI conundrum: Why are UX and UI design roles often advertised as one?

If you’re familiar with the day-to-day tasks of a UI designer, you’ll know that there are many differences between UX and UI, and, technically speaking, they are two separate roles. However, many companies seek UX/UI designers under one job title.

There are many possible reasons for this. It’s not uncommon for startups and smaller companies to hire a single designer as opposed to an entire design team, in which case it’s important to find a candidate who has both UX and UI skills.

In larger companies, it may be that they are looking for someone to support both the UX and the UI designers in their day-to-day tasks, so again, an understanding of both is key.

If you are strictly a UI designer by trade, it can be off-putting to see the word UX pop up every time you search for jobs.

But don’t let this deter you!
 

Before you dismiss the role altogether, be sure to read the job description carefully. In many cases, it’s enough to have a basic understanding of user experience principles. Indeed, UX and UI design go hand in hand; it’s impossible to create awesome user interfaces without understanding how they contribute to the overall user experience.

Go through every job description with a fine tooth comb in order to gauge how much UX knowledge is really needed. If you’ve mastered the fundamentals of UI, the chances are you already know more about UX than you think.

3. UI designer job descriptions: What skills and experience are required?

The role of the UI designer can mean different things to different companies. In smaller teams and startups, it’s not unusual for the UI design role to incorporate a broader range of tasks and responsibilities — such as user research, or a deeper knowledge of UX principles.

In a larger company with a bigger design team, you might find that the role of each designer is more clear-cut. In this case, you can probably expect to be working strictly on user interface design.

With that said, there are certain skills and requirements that most — if not all — UI designer job descriptions will focus on.

Let’s take a look at the most common elements you will come across during your UI design job search, starting with junior UI designer job descriptions.

4. Junior UI designer job descriptions

If you’re a newly qualified UI designer, you might focus your search on junior positions.

Junior roles tend to require between 0-2 years’ experience, and there is a strong focus on soft skills. At this stage, employers are looking for someone who has not only mastered the fundamentals of UI, but who is ready to learn and hit the ground running.

Here are some of the key skills you can expect to see in a junior UI designer job ad:

Hard skills
  • Experience with web and mobile app design.
  • Working knowledge of responsive design and grid principles.
  • Strong typography, layout and visual design skills.
  • Working knowledge of industry tools: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Balsamiq, Omnigraffle, InVision, Sketch.
  • Working knowledge of the ideation and creation of UI design deliverables: Sitemaps, user flows, wireframes, lo-fi and hi-fi layouts, prototypes.
Soft skills
  • Strong attention to detail.
  • Proactive, independent working style.
  • Strong communication and teamwork skills.
  • Effective time management and ability to prioritize tasks.
  • Strong attention to detail.
  • Desire to learn and grow as a designer.
Nice-to-haves
  • Working knowledge of HTML, JavaScript and CSS.
  • Experience creating rapid prototypes.

Don’t be put off by the “nice-to-haves”, which will often be listed under “preferred skills and experience.” Frontend languages, for example, don’t technically count as a UI design skill. As a junior UI designer especially, it’s certainly not a deal-breaker if you don’t know how to code.

You don’t need to tick every single box in order to apply for the job. As long as you can demonstrate a willingness to learn, it doesn’t matter if there are gaps in your skillset. A junior design role should give you the opportunity to learn from senior designers; if you have the right soft skills and a demonstrable passion for UI, an exact skills match is by no means essential.  

5. UI designer job descriptions

So what happens when you delete the “junior” part and just search for user interface designer roles?

UI designer job descriptions vary greatly from company to company, but the years of experience required tends to range between 3 and 6.

As a UI designer with a few years’ experience under your belt, you’ll be expected to take a more leading role, working closely with developers, product managers, copywriters and other designers. You’ll need to deliver in line with time and budget restraints, and be able to confidently make — and defend — design decisions.

Here are some of the skills, requirements and responsibilities that frequently appear in UI designer job descriptions:

Tasks and responsibilities
  • Develop standard UI components and style guides for company-wide use.
  • Effectively communicate your designs to developers and other key stakeholders.
  • Address product, marketing and business needs.
  • Conduct industry research and stay up-to-date on best practices, competitor UI designs and emerging technologies.
  • Provide support and internal training.
  • Conduct, observe and analyse usability testing sessions.
  • Develop consistent, intuitive architectures.
  • Support the QA team to make sure features are implemented as intended.
Skills
  • Ability to innovate and develop out-of-the-box solutions to complex user interaction problems.
  • Strong presentation skills.
  • Experience with HTML5, CSS3 and the use of various Javascript frameworks in interface design.

There it is again — the request for frontend coding skills. After a few years in the industry, you may notice that this becomes more of a requirement than a nice-to-have for many companies.

While many will argue that this is not a UI design skill (and it’s not), learning to code can enrich your work as a designer. Why should designers learn to code? Find out here.

6. Senior UI designer job descriptions

For a senior UI design role, most job ads ask for at least 5 or 6 years’ professional experience.

So, from an employer’s perspective, what sets senior UI designers apart?

As a senior UI designer, you will be expected to lead and oversee the company’s entire UI strategy. A senior role may see you managing a team of designers, providing training and mentorship. Together with the UX team, you’ll be responsible for building and implementing a design thinking culture.

Senior UI designers tend to take a more strategic, analytical role, so you’ll need to be extremely comfortable with data.

Let’s consider what you might find in a senior UI designer job description:

Tasks and responsibilities
  • Manage design libraries and design systems with adherence to product branding requirements.
  • Oversee the development and delivery of effective user interfaces.
  • Manage a team of junior UI designers, providing training and support.
  • Work with digital analytics team to assess the impact of all UI design and usability changes.
  • Assist with user research, interviews, surveys and usability studies, translating findings into wireframes and prototypes.
Skills
  • Ability to lead and direct design thinking for a wide range of products.
  • Expert knowledge of UI design principles and techniques.
  • Strong team management skills.
  • Expert knowledge of responsive design and mobile UI.
  • Strong working knowledge of HTML5/XHTML, CSS3 and JavaScript.
  • Ability to perform in a fast paced, high stress design process under minimal supervision.
  • Outstanding written and verbal communication skills, and ability to present work to executives and large groups.
  • Proven experience mentoring or managing other UI designers.

As you can see, senior UI designers are an integral part of the business. In addition to fundamental UI design skills, you’ll need to bring strong business know-how and leadership skills to the table.

7. UI designer job descriptions: The takeaway

As already mentioned, different companies will expect different things from a UI designer. Your role will vary depending on a wide range of factors, including the product type, the current team, and the size of the company.

When it comes to UI designer job descriptions, it’s important to separate the essential skills and qualifications from the “nice-to-haves”. Employers will often treat job descriptions as a wishlist, so don’t be deterred from applying just because you don’t tick every single box.

For more tips and advice on building your UI design career, check out the following:

 

What You Should Do Now

  1. If you’d like a step-by-step intro to find out if UI design is right for you - sign up here for our free 7-day UI short course.
  2. If you are interested in becoming a UI Designer check out our UI design course (you'll learn the essential skills employers need).
  3. If you’d like to speak to an expert Career Advisor for free about how you can really get a new job in tech - connect with us here.

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Emily Stevens

Emily Stevens

Contributer to the CareerFoundry Blog

Originally from England, Emily moved to Berlin after studying French & German at university. When she’s not writing, she can be found travelling, hula-hooping or reading a good book.