Getting hired as a UI designer is actually a lot of fun! The position has a lot of opportunities to learn about a business, help push the digital products forward and ultimately provide lots of interesting new products and services to your target market. UI design encapsulates the role of developing an interface for digital products, sometimes web products, and marketing sites. As well as most times working within the product and technology portion of an agile engineering or product development team. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to get hired as a UI designer or hiring one. I’ve outlined some of the best UI design interview questions and answers below to help you either kickoff your hiring process with the team or to prepare you for your future employment. As with all interview questions its important that you recognize these are mock answers. Meaning, you should study what the answers are but attempt to answer them in your own way. The delivery, of course, will be different but that’s somewhat of the point. You want to be sure you’ve studied for the position and are well prepared to get hired as a UI designer.
1. What does UI stand for?
UI stands for User Interface. A user is a person who is operating a computer or technology device. Not limited to an iPhone, personal computer or desktop. This person could also be an operator of heavy machinery or maybe the operator of a radio. Both of these types of machines and devices also have interfaces as part of their function. The person using that is the user.
2. What is a UI?
A UI is any type of translation that’s done between a user and a machine via some type of visual language. If you think about, machines don’t speak our language. And we don’t speak theirs. So it's important that a UI exists to help translate functions between user and machine. This is where the term ‘interface’ comes into play. Interface, in this instance, acts almost like ‘translator’. Any type of visual presentation of what the machine will respond with and do, is considered an interface. Interfaces are often times confused as being only for the new digital way we see them the most, for example on your Amazon Firestick TV device or maybe through your iPhone. But in reality, an interface could also exist on a GPS device. UI’s are almost everywhere once you start to realize what the function is and why its there.
3. Where did some of the first UI’s come from?
Some of the first UI’s mostly came from Apple. They are most respected in terms of developing the more modern UI examples. It came from Lisa, where Apple computers went from being mostly numerically driven to having a mouse and being able to click on portions of the screen that also told the machine what to do. Apple was definitely not the first-ever UI to be made but in terms of paving the way for what we do with computers and devices today, it was the most pronounced development in the past 30 years. Another form of a UI could be a sundial. Sundials are very old devices that help a user understand the time of day, utilizing the sun and the shadow that the sundial creates. In a way, this is also a UI. Because it translated the suns position to a time of day that the user was looking for.
4. Who does a UI serve?
UI’s are always there to serve the customer or the user. The main intent behind a UI is to make sure that any human behind a device clearly understands how to control that device. UI’s are always serving humans.
5. What is considered good UI and bad UI?
While this is a very subjective question, it is important to try and answer it the best you possibly can. In general, good UI is one that is there to clearly and intuitively serve a customer or human. That is done with as little confusion as possible while providing as much freedom as possible to that end user. A bad UI is one that is cumbersome and confusing the human. If that is the case, then the majority of the UI won’t be useable and the result will be a frustrated human, customer or user that most likely won’t want to use whatever the interface was intended for.
6. What software do you use to create UI?
There are now more options for creating a UI than ever. But the most popular tools are Sketch and Photoshop. Photoshop is apart of the Adobe suite of tools. Not specific to interfaces is Illustrator, which is sometimes used to assist in the UI process but not one you would use to create a fully functioning UI or one that might be handed off to your team of engineers.
7. What happens when a UI is done?
When a UI is done it should undergo a series of checks. The first check that should be done is ensuring that other humans understand the UI. This is usually done by asking for feedback by people who have not seen the UI before. The second step is to attempt to build a prototype or version of the product that the UI was made for. This is usually done by a UI developer, a front-end engineer or sometimes a general web developer. Depending on the company structure and what type of employee’s are available, the next steps after a UI is done can be variable. In general, though, you will be looking for feedback from either a front-end or backend engineer.
8. How do you test UI’s?
UI’s can be tested in a variety of ways. Primarily through user testing, which can be done virtually. Or through focus groups, which is usually done in person by asking random people to try out digital or non-digital products and look at their ability to use the devices. Lastly, testing can be done by allowing a close friend or friend of that person to try out a digital product or device to make sure its being understood as the designer expected.
9. What are the legalities of UI patterns?
UI patterns are when many people use the same type of interface. A UI pattern is a good thing because it means that more people understand what the result of a particular interface item may do. This means there is some commonality between one or many parts of the interface with regard to a device. For instance, a volume button on a radio. Most people understand what that is going to do because it is shared across many devices. The legalities of these UI patterns is that they are free to use, unless specified by a patent. Even then, sometimes UI patents are free to use as long as the licenses is listed in the software code. For the most part, UI patterns are used amongst designers at will.
10. What is the hamburger menu?
The hamburger menu is a three lined icon which indicates a hidden top-level navigational structure that the user can access at any point.
11. What is conversational UI and voice UI?
Conversational UI is when a user speaks to a robot and the robot knows certain responses and functions to perform. This is still considered a UI. Voice UI is when we speak to devices and the device then performs tasks or jobs. This is also considered a UI.
12. How would you hire another UI designer?
Hiring a UI designer is a process of looking over portfolio examples to ensure they have executed work similar to the work they are about to perform at the organization. As well as ensuring they know the general functions required for the UI design position. This means, who they interact with and how they interact with them. The hiring process for this is specific to checking all of those boxes to ensure a proper fit for the company they are applying for.
13. How do you work with other UI designers?
UI designers need to collaborate between each other on various projects to ensure that there is a unified translation language being used on all products, services, websites and more. If two UI designers do not work together, what will happen is a very disjointed user experience that will cause users to be upset. UI designers can collaborate by using a variety of software tools. In general, showing early stage work and incorporating uniformity is the way to achieve collaboration and success.
14. What software should you not create UI in?
You wouldn’t create UI in Illustrator, InDesign or any other tool that does not allow for vector shaping to exist.
15. What is a UI spec sheet?
A UI spec sheet is when a designer writes out user stories or specifications on how a UI should work. In this process, they usually outline parts of the iconography and pages for which they want to be connected and what types of results they want to be presented to the user after they’ve clicked or submitted information to the device.
16. How do front-end engineers work with UI designers?
Front-end engineers work with designers by understanding the UI’s needs, the portions of the UI that need to be cut into multiple pieces and connecting the various parts of the UI to the backend engineering functionality. In a way, front-end engineers are a translator between the UI and the backend engineering.
17. Do color palettes play a big part in UI’s?
Color palettes play a huge part of the UI. For instance, if the UI is very bright, it might be more difficult for people to see portions of the UI which is important. Ensuring a proper contrast and color choice which doesn’t disturb the users vision is very important.
18. Is there such a thing as plagiarism in UI design?
You can plagiarize a product but you cannot plagiarize a UI. For the most part, UI influenced from one another is technically a good thing for end users.
19. What software would you use to create iconography?
Software to create iconography would be Sketch or Illustrator. You will be creating vector files or SVG files which can fit to the high DPI requirements for modern devices.
20. How do you create prototypes for your UI?
There are many pieces of software to create prototypes. Depending on the type of device you are designing for, the tool would be Invison, which can be used to create clickable desktop or mobile prototypes. There are also many other types of ways to develop prototypes. But Invision is one of the most popular tools for this.
21. What are some well known UI designers?
Dan Cederholm, Max Voltar.
22. What inspires your UI design?
This answer should be very specific to you. Its important that you use this opportunity to show where your inspiration comes from. That can be in many ways, not specifically just the digital environment. For example, architecture might be a powerful tool for inspiring your digital work. Other UI design may also be a powerful tool for inspiration. Magazines can also be a powerful tool for this. All sorts of places can be used to drive inspiration. Be creative.
23. How do you design UI for men and women?
There is nothing gender-specific about UI’s, you are always designing for the human. But in general, you can design a UI for a man or woman by the presentation of the colors and the overall aesthetic. These types of things may make it more comforting for specific genders to experience a UI.
24. Should you consider age groups in your UI design?
Yes. Age groups are a huge part of good UI design. You should attempt to make your UI understandable by many age groups. If only one age group is able to understand your UI then it goes against the fundamental parts of a UI being a translator. You should be testing your UI’s once they are finished to ensure multiple age groups have the same reaction to specific UI functions, icons, colors and features.
25. What is interaction design?
Interaction design is the motion that is experienced in the UI. Animation helps the user understand certain events. For example, if a phone vibrates, then it allows the user to know that something is happening on the device. It allows them to know that an event is occurring. Technically, this would be considered interaction design. Any motion, movement or vibration that exists in the product and what that indicates to the end user.
26. What is human-computer interaction?
Human-Computer Interaction is the focus of ensuring that all parts of an interface are clearly understood by humans. It is about simplicity of functionality in favor of the end user.
27. What is the difference between UX design and UI design?
UX design and UI design are not very different. But UX design is when the experience of a brand or product is unified across many instances of that brand being accessed. Lets think about this for a moment, if you have a desktop experience and an iOS experience, you’ll want them to be synchronized. The function of ensuring that they are synchronized is part of the UX designer. The function for which the interfaces are being created and why they are being created is part of the UI design function. So in essence, they are similar and they work together.
28. How does branding play a role in UI design?
Branding is more than just a logo. Branding is the emotional feeling a company wants a user or human to feel when they are interacting with that business. Branding is when you have a positive emotion or some other type of emotional response towards what the business offers. For instance, if the business is offering skydiving lessons, the branding may be exciting. They want you to feel energized about the opportunity and excited. But this wouldn’t be the same for a company who is offering health insurance, for instance. Branding plays a major role in the UI design because you want to ensure that the UI design is communicating the proper branding initiatives that are part of the company goals. This can be difficult for a lot of UI designers to achieve but it is very important.
29. How do you take UI design feedback?
UI design feedback can be collected in many ways. Ideally, you can take written or verbal feedback. Presenting a UI to a group of people inside a company and asking for their honest opinions is a great way to collect feedback. You can also print a UI and take written notes.
30. What are some ways UI design can help a business?
UI design can help a business in a plethora of ways. Lets say there’s a device or product that users are using, UI design can attempt to alleviate any friction the user might be already experiencing. This could cause a more positive response to the business offering as a whole. There’s way to ensure that the business is always being interpreted positively through the UI design. Another way is when a business is investing in new products or services for their customers. UI design can play a major role in helping to develop these new properties. UI design can also play a big role in the marketing sites or landing pages for a business. There are ways to ensure those properties also have very little friction and that users can pleasantly understand what the business offers and why.
31. What are other skills a UI designer should have?
Whenever a UI designer can present skills outside of just the interface level of the process, they are considered more valuable. Mostly because they can help other people on the team understand what needs to get build, more efficiently. Ideal additional skills that a UI designer should carry is HTML, CSS, and some type of backend programming experience.
32. What are the educational requirements for a UI designer?
A UI designer should have a bachelors degree in human-computer interaction or some other type of digital product design study. Although, it is not a requirement of a UI designer to have a formal background in UI design. Any type of design study can be applicable. Including graphic design or branding.
33. What is responsible web design?
Responsive web design is the process of ensuring that native websites service good experiences to users on devices with many types of widths and heights. There are many computers on the market and all of which have different dimensions. Responsive web design helps ensure all of those devices have useable interfaces.
34. What does iOS stand for?
iOS stands for iPhone OS or iPhone Operating System. This was coined by Apple.
35. What is Android?
Android is the mobile framework used to power the Android devices. It is a mobile operating system, similar to the iPhone OS.
36. Should UI for Android and iOS be different?
Yes. Android users are more familiar to UI’s that are specific to that device. It is unfortunate that Android and iOS interact in different ways. This is mostly because of the competitive nature between the two types of devices. As a UI designer who is building for both iOS and Android, you should be learning what users might be expecting to see in terms of the UI design for both of the device types.
A job interview where you are being asked UI interview questions is going to be quite fun. You may experience having to show off a portfolio of UI design work as well as products that you might have built or designed on the side. If you do not have this work ready, I would take some time put this together. If you are worried that you don’t have enough portfolio work you can absolutely redesign an existing product without it actually being built. In this example, you’ll be wanting to improve the UI of an already existing product and that can show your personal thought process being creating a great UI for the user. This is usually an acceptable type of portfolio work to include and employers will not shy away from this. It still shows of your skills and talents, thus is achieves what it needs to. The design position is a creative one, so be sure that you are ready to answer all questions related to your own personal process and how you might be able to educate others about being apart of it. Take some time to sit down a friend and have them ask the questions above as well as ask some random questions about design and the design process. This will get you more familiar with answering design questions to those who may not be as familiar to design as you. Remember, you are speaking to those who are not designers. So in the same way that UI design serves the purpose of it being a translator, you will also need to be that translator. Great communication is an important part of the designers skill set. Presenting that to your future employer is going to give you a big advantage. Written and verbal communication skills are critical for designers to have.