BUX Podcast 87: What Does A User Interface Designer Do?

User Interface designers. UI Guys. Whatever you choose to call them, the questions still remain: who are they, what do they want, and why do they keep arranging things?

The guy in the picture up there is Ryan Singer. He’s a UI Designer at 37 Signals. While there he’s been part of the Basecamp, Backpack, Highrise, and Campfire product teams. He illustrates a UI designer quite well: he has to operate in the world of information architecture and in the world of graphic design. Wait. What?

What Does An User Interface Designer Do?

A user interface designer is responsible for creating the literal interface (physical or digital) for a product. On a car, think of the person who is responsible for how the car feels. How the dashboard works, where things are placed, and how they are accessed. On a website or app, this involves all of the ways that users can interact with the website. It’s such a part of design, that it’s almost hard to think of there being a subset known as a UI designer. But here we are.

Interface designers sit at an interesting intersection. They are smack in the middle of design and information architecture. They have to clearly understand both what data and why. Design projects are always a dance of competing interests and the best UI designers are able to create great interfaces by understanding the true needs of both the users and the product developers.

I’m not sure it’s quite as complicated as this chart makes it out to be.

User Interface Designer Flow Chart To me, a UI designer is a graphic designer with a mind for business and marketing.

He exists as a complement to the UX guy since the user experience is emergent out of the UI design. Feedback gathered by the UX guy from users will guide how the UI designer can create (or iterate) better designs.

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