How to Learn UI Design

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User interface (UI) design describes an app or website's graphic layout. Programmers study UI design to create a satisfying aesthetic and optimize usability. Many bootcamps and universities offer programs in combined UI and user experience (UX) design, the latter incorporating deeper considerations for the user experience and human-computer interaction.

Digital design agency Net Solutions estimates that consumers' first impressions of digital products and services are 94% design-related in 2022. UI/UX design enables developers to seek new, creative ways to capture a user's attention.

Find out how to learn UI design below.

Coding Bootcamps

Students can pursue a coding bootcamp for career-focused tech training in a condensed format and often for a lower cost than a traditional degree. Most bootcamps also offer flexible learning options for students seeking a full- or part-time program in person or online. A prominent feature of coding bootcamps is their emphasis on career preparation and placement services.

Find the Right Coding Bootcamp For You

Online Courses

While coding bootcamps are often cheaper than a degree, they may still be unaffordable for some students. Online courses can offer a free or low-cost path to learning UI design, with flexible completion times and enrollment options. Students can access online courses from anywhere with an internet connection at their convenience.Sample courses include:

  • UI/UX Design Specialization: CalArts offers this course through Coursera. It emphasizes a visual communication perspective and a design-centric approach to this web development subfield.
  • User Interface Design Specialization: The University of Minnesota offers this course through Coursera. It explores basic prototyping, user research, and evaluation techniques. The course culminates in a capstone design project. Students can enroll for free.
  • DESIGN RULES: Principles + Practices for Great UI Design: Udemy hosts this course in UI design, which emphasizes the balance and visual organization techniques needed for all apps, including mobile devices. The course includes on-demand videos and culminates in a certificate of completion.
  • Learn UI Design: Taught by UI designer Erik Kennedy, this course features 53 immersive lessons in color, typography, user interface components, and digital platforms and paradigms.
  • Product Design Inc. UX & UI: UK-based product design firm Experience Haus offers this UX and UI design course for beginners. It covers skills like empathy mapping, user research methods, and storyboarding. Lessons span 12 weeks and culminate in a professional portfolio.

Online Courses vs. Bootcamps

Pros of Online Courses Cons of Online Courses Pros of Coding Bootcamps Cons of Coding Bootcamps
Cost: Paid courses are even cheaper than a bootcamp, and many offer free enrollment. Asynchronous: Providers may offer the same pre-recorded courses online for years, with no live input from instructors. Flexibility: Many bootcamps enroll students in person or online, according to the student's preference. Tuition Costs: Median bootcamp tuition was $13,500 in 2020.
Easy Access: Open courseware is widely accessible to students everywhere. Broad Overviews Only: Many online courses only cover topical subjects and skills rather than in-depth UI design. Experiential Learning: Bootcamps typically prioritize interactive, hands-on projects and field experience. Prior Experience: While not always required, coding experience can benefit bootcamp students.
Fast and Flexible Completion: Many online courses are self-paced and can be completed in as quickly as one session. No Proof of Completion: Online courses do not automatically offer a certificate of completion. Some require payment to acquire a certificate. Professional Development: Bootcamps focus on job readiness and incorporate various comprehensive career placement services. Time Commitment: Bootcamps offer flexible enrollment options but may still require up to 24 weeks of classes to complete.

Coding Bootcamps to Learn UI Design

Arizona State University

  • Locations: Remote
  • Program Cost: $12,150
  • Learning Format: Online
  • Time Commitment: Full Time

CIRR Member

ASU offers its UX/UI bootcamps through a partnership with Thinkful. Students can complete the full-time bootcamp in five months. The curriculum teaches design-thinking, user-centered design, wireframing, and prototyping skills. The bootcamp culminates in a capstone project and professional portfolio development. Graduates earn a digital badge and professional certificate.

Coding Dojo

  • Locations: Remote, Bellevue, Boise, Chicago, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley
  • Program Cost: $8,745
  • Learning Format: Online
  • Time Commitment: Full Time, Part Time

CIRR Member
Evening & Weekend Options

Coding Dojo features a team-based immersive bootcamp in UX/UI design. The program lasts for 24 weeks and includes a live client project, portfolio development, and a career-readiness module. Coding Dojo's own 2020 student outcomes report boasts an 89% job placement rate within six months of graduation.

CodeStack Academy

  • Locations: Remote, Stockton
  • Program Cost: $5,000
  • Learning Format: Online
  • Time Commitment: Full Time, Part Time

Evening & Weekend Options

CodeStack is the first of its kind in Stockton, offering nonprofit coding programs through the San Joaquin County Office of Education. CodeStack's software engineering bootcamp, including project-based learning, the latest tech skills, and a guaranteed internship, culminates in a certificate of completion. Students also enjoy various workshops and local coding meetup opportunities.

Flatiron School

  • Locations: Remote, Austin, Chicago, Denver, Houston, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C.
  • Program Cost: $16,900
  • Learning Format: In Person, Online
  • Time Commitment: Full Time, Self-Paced

CIRR Member
Evening & Weekend Options

Flatiron School's product design bootcamp combines technical and studio-based modules with an emphasis on real-world projects and portfolio development. Students can choose from multiple start dates and enrollment options. According to Flatiron School's 2020 Jobs Report, more than half of its graduates found employment within two months of starting their search, and graduates earned an average starting salary of $74,000.

UI Design Jobs

UI Developer

UI designers often work as part of a team of software developers, creating and implementing an app or website's visual design elements that affect navigation and usability. Most UI designers hold a bachelor's degree. They must be proficient in programming languages.

Average Annual Salary: $77,720 (as of April 2022)

UX Researcher

These professionals use market trends, consumer surveys, and web analytics to improve end-user satisfaction with digital applications. They work with developers to modify existing web features and design new functions. UX researchers typically need a bachelor's degree and excellent communication and organizational skills.

Average Annual Salary: $96,230 (as of April 2022)

UI Engineer

In some cases, UI engineers differ from UI designers in name only. In other cases, UI engineers need more deep coding skills than UI designers, who tend to focus on the front-end visual elements and conceptual layout. UI engineers typically need an associate or bachelor's degree and advanced technical skills. A similar occupation is a software engineer.

Average Annual Salary for Software Engineer: $88,570 (as of April 2022)

What Are the Benefits of a UI Design Certification?

Though not required, UI design certification can help professionals highlight their skills in a competitive job market and potentially boost their salary. Some companies specializing in user-experience research, such as the Nielsen Norman Group, offer professional UX certification. This certification requires students to attend a series of courses and pass multiple exams.

Some bootcamps and online courses offer concurrent professional certification options. Employees of a particular tech company may enjoy opportunities to become certified in UI and/or UX design specifically for products and services under their name brand.

Frequently Asked Questions About Learning UI Design

What does UI and UX stand for?

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UI stands for user interface, and UX stands for user experience. These concepts are frequently studied together by tech professionals aspiring to a career in user-centered web development since many careers include an overlap of these closely related skill sets. In fact, bootcamps and career training programs offer UX/UI or UI/UX concentrations more commonly than an individual discipline on its own.

What is the difference between UI and UX design?

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UI involves the look and layout of an app or website, while UX determines the overall user experience. While designers must consider both UI and UX elements together to create a successful product, their roles are not interchangeable, and each requires its own skills. Both UI and UX designers need diverse and adaptable coding skills. However, UI designers often need more graphic design expertise. UX designers must practice advanced research and communication techniques.

Is UI design a good career?

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UI design continues to grow in popularity among IT professionals as businesses increasingly understand the value of attracting consumers through an enjoyable online experience. HRForecast named UX/UI design the third-most sought-after IT specialty for 2022. UI developers can earn an annual average salary of nearly $78,000 with moderate experience and almost $104,000 with 20+ years of experience, according to April 2022 Payscale data. Computer and IT occupations, including UI designers, also enjoy faster-than-average job growth of 13% from 2020-2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What skills do you need to be a UI designer?

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UI designers need specific technical and artistic skills, especially in design-thinking, problem-solving, and attention to detail. They should be naturally creative with a sense of ingenuity to identify and improve upon areas lacking in existing technologies. UI designers also rely on soft skills, including communication, teamwork, and high-level organization. While UI designers are the resident experts in typography, color theory, and animation, they require some of the same skills as UX designers, especially collaboration, curiosity, and user empathy.