UX / UI Design - The Key to Modernisation?
Designers are used to having their skills redefined and scrutinised. In this article we take a look at the complex and developing nature of the UX and UI world. We explore why these skills are so important in the modern world and what the UK vacancy trends point to.
Firstly, who needs a designer?
When the world went online, so too did the familiar brands we had become accustomed to; they all needed a website. Then, with the mass adoption of smartphones and subsequent applications, the world went fully digital and these brands had to properly modernise.
But, this was not as simple as taking the logo and throwing it on a website. New skills were required in order to curate “the feel of a brand” and to determine exactly what a customer would be interacting with along their individual customer journey.
A brand's messaging now needed to seamlessly translate across multiple digital platforms. And suddenly everyone needed a UX Designer.
This caused a spike in clean design; if a business was going to modernise, it went all in.
However, this trend does have its critics. Some blame the obsession with clean design as the reason for the worlds most iconic brands “modernising” their logos to a point where it “essentially removes any individuality from the brand.”
Who’s really in control?
UX Design (UXD) has an interesting history. By definition, UXD is the art of creating something led by the end users requirements.
But then a brand new industry rose to the top of social consciousness: social media.
Social media shaped customer expectations and set the bar very high for UX. So high that it came close to backfiring with users having a lot to say about when Meta made changes to Instagram’s UI and how this would ultimately impact the UX.
The UX and UI professionals working at the big social media companies are the tastemakers. They create something users get used to that other industries are then expected to adopt.
Who’s making it happen?
In real world terms this has led to UXD evolving into design that encourages customers to do exactly what the business wants them to.
In the realm of retail, they want their UX to result in the customer buying something in as few clicks as possible. In the case of banking they want their UX to allow you to securely and confidently make financial decisions without the need for in person or over the phone interaction.
This is where the cross over between UX and UI is most prevalent. Creating a good user experience for the customer is futile if the visuals don’t demand enough attention and encourage enough action.
A User Interface Designer is responsible for the visuals; they create what the customer will be looking at and interacting with. These design decisions should be based on the customer needs and wants discovered by the UX-ers who have gone through multiple stages of discovery.
However, it is not unusual for these different roles to merge into one “UX/UI Designer” position where the responsibilities stretch from discovery to creation to implementation.
Who’s got the skills?
This merging of skills and positions can be the cause of some heated debate, which is likely to continue…
But the prevalence of “UX/UI” doesn't seem to be shifting. Infact, the tail may have wagged the dog and now if you’re a product based tech designer, in order to make yourself the most hirable candidate your skills should probably reflect a deep understanding of both UX and UI principles.
According to ITjobswatch.co.uk, towards the end of 2018 there was a spike in demand for both permanent and contract “UX/UI Designer” roles. This spike now pales in insignificance when compared to the spikes seen since in 2020 and 2022. With the demand for permanent UX/UI Designers staying way above that of contractors since early 2022.
This all points to businesses starting to comprehensively understand the value of these skills and how their value increases on a long term basis. UX/UI Design skills are required in house and on hand if a business stands a chance of competing with the pace of change customers have come to expect.