Responsibilities of a User Interface Designer
- Designing User Interfaces
- Designing User Interactions
- Prototyping User Interfaces
- Testing User Interfaces
- Optimizing User Interfaces
A user interface designer performs one of the most important roles in the software development process. Without them, users cannot properly interact with software, and this can render a good concept useless. But their role is not limited to simply creating a design. They have the following job duties.
1. Designing User Interfaces
Before computer developers can program a user interface, user interface designers must design it. This typically entails writing out — either on paper or in design software — the interfaces of the planned software. This requires that they fully understand not only the purpose of the software but also how people will use the software. It further means that they must be well versed about what programmers can and cannot program, and what users expect in a software interface.
2. Designing User Interactions
It is not enough for user interface designers to simply map out what the screens will look like. They also must map out how users will interact with the interface. This means that they must detail every operation a user can initiate with every element in the interface. They must also detail the outcomes of these interactions. Like with a user interface design, designers can create this either on paper or by using design software.
3. Prototyping User Interfaces
It is usually not sufficient to create user interface and user interaction designs. As Microsoft has said, “Prototyping is a means of exploring ideas before you invest in them.” Before companies invest in the huge amount of resources required to program a user interface, they want to see the interface in action. This is where a prototype comes in to play. It is a functional means of creating and interacting with an interface without programming, and designers can create one using a wide range of prototyping software.
4. Testing User Interfaces
Once designers have completed their designs, software developers have all they need to program an user interface. But this does not mean that the designer’s job is done once they have completed their designs. They also often must test the interfaces after they have been programmed. They must ascertain that the software actually follows the design and that it has no bugs. This testing is usually completed in conjunction with both quality assurance analysts and the users of the software.
5. Optimizing User Interfaces
The last step in the user interface design process is optimizing designs. Regardless of how well a designer has designed the interface, there will always be things that they will inevitably overlook. They will often also discover that there are better ways of implementing a particular interface. Again working with quality assurance analysts and users — as well as developers — designers help optimize a user interface so that it becomes better. This process can go well beyond the initial release of the software.
In conclusion, user interface designers perform many roles in order to take a design from a concept to a functioning interface. Because of this, a user interface designer stays active throughout the entire software development lifecycle.