Khizar Hamid

By Khizar Hamid

So one day you wake up and realize that you want to be a User Interface designer. Every other device or machine you see around you requires human input to operate, this interaction with mechanical devices be it a machine, phone, app or a food processor is our primary focus . Manufacturers in the last couple of decades have come to realize how important it is to improve on the interaction experience between man and machine, which is why devices are becoming better and more efficient at doing the task they were designed to do… well most of the time anyways.

How often do you find yourself using a new device and trying to figure out how the heck does this thing work. And at times you’ll find devices that just speak to you. You would already know before pressing that button that it would do what you think it would do. And when an interface successfully lets its user perform the tasks it wants to do without scratching his head too many times, that suggests that the over all user experience has been good on using the machines interface.We call that a good interface design.

When I refer User Interface from here on I will be referring to User Interfaces of Websites or Mobile Applications. Because that’s what brought you here.

So lets get down to business I am not gonna talk about what degree you need to capitalize on to get this gig going I am just gonna teach you the raw skills and basic ground work that you need to do to get you started.

Tools

In order to familiarize yourself you need a firm grip on the following:

Balsamic Mockup

Is a very easy to learn design tool for creating wire frames, before you get onto developing a high fidelity mock up( graphic intensive UI) its best to draft up a basic version of what you are trying to make this comes in handy.

Photoshop

This is my favorite tool to use to create UIs a lot of people tend to argue Fireworks is better at this but I prefer Photoshop it does the job nicely.

In order to learn Photoshop you need to spend a lot of your initial time practicing and learning how to use this tool. I suggest using Tuts Plus It is an awesome resource of learning advance techniques on Photoshop on various subjects Creating Logos, UIs, Banners, Digital touch the whole lot. Lynda’s online video tutorials is another good source to get you acquainted and like them there are many different places you can find to help you in the course of your work.

Colors

Get yourself acquainted with color theory and what colors to use and what is the significance of different colors. You should also learn to know when to limit yourself to certain color platelet when working on a specific project.

Typography

This is perhaps one of the most crucial features of any interface the font style that you are gonna be using on the website. Sans font and Serif font, you need to able to differentiate which type needs to be use line height,spacing, size every minor detail boils it down to how readable and elegant the interface looks. You also need to learn to limit the number of fonts used in a project.

Symmetry & Harmony

I have seen a lot of UI designers who are starting out have this feeling on wanting to cram everything in one design. Always remember focus and simplicity is key to any design project. You should look at your design from a perspective that it should not confuse your user and keep your users eyes focused on whats important on the design, whether that’s a call to action to buy something, to get in touch, or a banner with the information that you are trying to deliver. Color choices and contrast are also important when you want to leave the focus at the right place. for example a blank white canvas with a large black box is something our eyes are bound to focus on.

Inspiration

Join an online community of fellow graphic designers learn from the best see what makes their work shout Holy #@!# Cow. Keep being inspired by designers around the world. Behance and Dribbble are great platforms to do that while also keeping your own personal portfolio up to date. Awwwards is a great site to see who is the best of the bunch and what makes them stand apart, take notes, study other peoples designs get inspired! but please remember there’s a different between getting inspired and copying a design that’s a big no no!

Design Research

Before starting out any design work always research the different type of work there are and what have other designers approach been when designing for your kinda project. Where have they cleared solved the problem and where have they not, is there room for improvement? how would you find a better and different approach. If you are doing a project for a business or category that you are unfamiliar with its always good to do some background reading on the type of consumers your gonna be designing your interface for.

User Experience (UX)

Part of research before beginning to design an interface should be to understand who you are designing your web interface for, what type of users will be using this website? Your design should reflect this and allow for ease of use. Your choice of colors,font type, spacing, focus, message, interactive elements everything should be to allow maximum ease of use for the user. A good interface design will suggest people how to accomplish a certain task especially when they are using it for the first time. A good user experience accounts for a great design. But this comes much later in your learning process and is a subject so vast that you’ll find man books and resources on the matter. The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman is considered a Bible and a must read on the subject.

I have probably left out a ton of stuff that would probably be helpful but I think it should be good enough to get you started hopefully I’ll be putting in some more articles as I go along the way.

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