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A Complete and Useful Guide to What is UI Design in Details

Mockplus Team 15149 Views

UI design is popular nowadays. This article is a complete guide to what is UI design and introduces UI design in details.

Many have misconceptions about what UI design is. For instance, they may think that drawing a mobile phone icon is UI design, which leads to many spending time drawing various icons, mistakenly thinking this makes them a UI designer.

Others have heard that the UI design industry commands a high salary, but they don't know what UI is and it is still not clear what they may need to learn. This article will introduce you to UI design in detail.

1. What is UI design?

UI is the user interface. UI design refers to the overall design of human-computer interaction, operational logic, and the graphical user interface (GUI).

Almost all electronics that we use in our daily life, from mobile phones, computers, TVs, car systems, iPads, ATMs, industrial control systems, if it has a display device with an electronic screen, UI design is required.

Generally speaking, the UI/user interface is a visual portal that allows us to retrieve information, call device resources, and control device operations.


2. UI design functions

The functions of UI design are roughly divided into 3 aspects.

A. Graphic design- The "visual design" of the software product. This is completed by a graphic designer (GUI=Graphic UI Designer).

Related:6 Must-Know GUI Design Principles to Make You an Excellent UI Designer

B. Interaction design-The design of the software operation flow, tree structure, operation specification, etc. This is usually completed by an interaction designer (IXD=interaction Designer).

C. User testing/research- This tests the rationality of the interaction design and the aesthetics of the graphic design. The rationality of UI design is mainly measured by a target user questionnaire.

3. UI designer job description

There is no one description as there are different UI designers. Let’s break down a few of them.

Mobile UI designer --- Highly popular as many companies focus exclusively on mobile apps; app design and theme design for mobile phone tablets is the mainstream. If you are looking for a point of entry into the field, this is the place to focus your learning.

PC-side UI designers --- PC-side UI designers mainly focus on computer software interface design, such as software and web button design.

Game UI designer -Game UI designers focus on the interface of online and mobile games. At present, this is the most difficult field as requirements and expectations for game UI designers are very high. However, with the right education and experience the return on investment is much higher and you can command a high salary.

Other UI designers --- There are less popular UI design opportunities in AR, VR, bank cash machine interface, self-service ticket machine, smart watch interface, and the like.


4. UI design workflow

What is the development process of digital products? What is a UI designer's role in this workflow?

In brief, the development process of an Internet product (or App) can be divided into four phases: research and projecting → design and development → testing and publishing → publishing and promotion. UI design falls in the second phase.

A. Research and project. In this phase, you establish the Product Requirements Document (PRD=Product Requirement Document) to prepare for UI interaction design. This is usually completed by the product manager (PM=Product Manager).

B. Design and Development. According to the product requirements document (PRD) → complete the UI interactive prototyping → complete the graphic design of the UI → the technical realization of the R&D engineer (the front-end engineer realizes the reconstruction of the UI graphical interface → the back-end engineer realizes the data processing of the business logic)

C. Testing and publishing. All the team's developers collaborate to solve interactive, visual, and technical bugs. The product manager controls quality and coordinates time to ensure that products are delivered on time.

D. Release and promotion. Multi-channel, multi-model, and multi-media advertising so that the product reaches the target customers.

The final link is continuous content operation output, which enhances user activity and expands the target population. For this to be effective, you need to solicit and accept user feedback, continuously optimize product experience, and iteratively update.


5. UI design work content

What are the main tasks of UI designers (graphic user interface designers)?

Most of the UI designers we refer to are GUI graphic designers. Their main work tasks include: graphic design, icon production, app brand production, and interface design, etc.

In the actual work of Internet product development, you are connected to the product manager (or interaction designer) upstream; downstream you are connected to your front-end engineer.

Therefore, you usually complete the graphical visual design of the UI interface based on the interaction draft issued by the product manager. This requires you to understand the interactive draft, understand that interactive design is the best option, and can endorse the visual design.

After completing the visual draft of the UI interface, the UI designer will mark it up and deliver it to the downstream front-end engineer for interface refactoring. When necessary, you may also want to use some UI effects to clarify the designer's intent, so knowing a little about UI animation design is also a plus.

6. UI design essential skills

Icon design ability

UI designers need to master a variety of icon designs. Linear and silhouette icons are the most widely used. But there are already a wide selection of icon libraries available online, why do you need to design them yourself? Because projects are ever-changing and unique in nature; you need to design according to the style and uniqueness of the product.

Graphic design ability

UI designers need to master the ability to draw graphics to meet the many graphic needs of the project. For example, the design of the app interface requires various guide pages and startup pages; these graphics can be drawn with a graphic tablet or with a mouse.

Design layout ability

The UI designer is first and foremost a designer, not a painter, so the icon illustration just represents the designer's idea. The icons and graphics need to be cohesive and connected to the overall layout of the product.

Here is where many lack the necessary skills, even designers who have worked for many years. Thus, this is an important skill to cultivate and practice and once achieved will put you ahead of the pack.

Design proposal ability

A qualified designer should have the ability to design proposals. Proposals will include your selection of graphics, color, and text, why it is so designed, and your overall thoughts. A well-founded design description, rather than a piecemeal picture, is more convincing.

Poster/banner design ability

A banner and poster layout can be used in interface design. Furthermore, you need to master operational design, graphic design, and UI design as many companies do not delineate the division of labor.

Interface design capability

Some people say, wrongly, that interface design looks easy, which is why so many interfaces look the same. Unique design takes work, with careful consideration of color, graphics, down to the smallest details.

Interactive thinking ability

The UI designer's interface still needs to serve the product design, not just in aesthetics, but also in the logic of the interface. The use of visual means to express product intent requires critical thinking ability and interface interaction knowledge.

Collaboration ability

Nowadays, the process of product development requires a detailed division of labor. At the same time, with the development of various technologies and software, collaborative operations are becoming more and more convenient. As a designer, you need to understand your place in the upstream and downstream workflow.

In addition, you have to understand the prototype, page structure, interaction form, product logic, etc. In addition, you need to know what standard documents you need to submit. Taking iOS development as an example; labeling documents is a must and icon requirements are 1x, 2x, 3x. Luckily, there are tools like Mockplus iDoc that can help facilitate design collaboration.

7. UI design essential tools


Adobe Photoshop, or "PS" for short, is an image processing software developed and distributed by Adobe Systems. Photoshop primarily processes digital images made up of pixels. With its many editing and drawing tools, you can effectively edit pictures.


Adobe Illustrator (AI)

Adobe Illustrator is a graphics processing tool used in the creation of standard vector illustrations used in publishing, multimedia and online images.


CINEMA 4D has a very high computing speed and a powerful rendering plug-in. It has been used in films, such as "Destroyed Warrior" and "Avatar," and won the title of the best product in a trade show. It was formerly known as FastRay.


Adobe After Effects is a graphics video processing software for organizations engaged in design and video effects, including TV stations, animation production companies, personal post-production studios, and multimedia studios.


Axure RP is a professional rapid prototyping tool that enables experts responsible for defining requirements and specifications, design features, and interfaces to quickly create wireframes, flowcharts, prototypes and specification documents for applications or Web sites.


Mockplus is an all-in-one platform powering design. It can help you create a mockup in minutes. It comes with more than 3,000 icons and nearly 200 components. Designers use an intuitive WYSIWYG editor to drag & drop all required components onto the canvas. Mockplus allows designers to test on native devices instantly.


Sketch is a sketch drawing software. Users need to rotate the left and right knobs to control the brushes on the panel to paint and color images.


Cutterman is a plug-in that runs in Photoshop and automatically outputs the layers you need to replace the traditional manual "export web format" and the tedious process of using a slicing tool.

Mockplus iDoc

Mockplus iDoc is a powerful product design collaboration tool for designers and engineers. It helps connect the entire product design workflow. It facilitates handoff by taking designs from PS, Sketch, and Adobe XD, then exporting them into a format that can generate code snippets, specs, and assets.

Mockplus iDoc


XMind is a very practical business mind mapping software that uses the world's most advanced Eclipse RCP software architecture to create easy-to-use, cross-platform visual thinking software that emphasizes software scalability, stability and performance.



Mockplus is a desktop-based tool for prototyping mobile, web and desktop apps easily and quickly. Create interactions by simple drag-and-drop and your teamwork will be time-efficient with the collaboration features.

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