Ok, so what is a UX/UI Designer....well, according to Wikipedia:
User experience (UX or UE) is about how a user interacts with, and experiences, a particular product, system or service. It includes a person's perceptions of utility, ease of use, and efficiency. User experience is an important concern to many companies when creating products, as negative user experience may decay profitability.
And a user interface design (UI design) or user interface engineering is the design of user interfaces for machines and software, such as computers, home appliances, mobile devices, and other electronic devices, with the focus on maximizing usability and the user experience. The goal of user interface design is to make the user's interaction as simple and efficient as possible, in terms of accomplishing user goals (user-centred design).
If this is what people find online when they search UX/UI designers no wonder I get phone calls from friends and family members asking me if I can decorate their homes or help them out pick their curtains for their living room, just because I have "designer" in my job title.
Let's put all of this in layman's terms so that everyone can understand.
A UX designer or user experience designer is like an architect, his job is to create the structure and think about how the user will interact with a particular digital product, may it be an app, a website a car's dashboard, pretty much anything you can imagine that has a screen on it. But how does he do that? Well, first of all, he needs to understand the business requirement, what is the main objective of that digital product? To sell an item, to keep people engaged and entertained, to obtain their email, and the list can go on and on and on. He/She is the first in line between an idea and a digital product. His job, similar to that of an architect, that listens to his client's crazy needs and wishes to have 100 windows underground lifts and a tennis court on his house roof, just like the architect needs to take those ideas and create a blueprint of a house, that you can live in, and that can be constructed, a UX designer needs to take those business ideas and create a blueprint/drawings for a product that will achieve those goals but in the same time is easy to use and it can be developed.
And the way he does that is by researching competitors, analysing data, analysing user interaction and conducting various user testings so that he can define a structure that the majority of people will understand and know how to use. For example lets say that our UX designer has a client that wants to create an app similar to YouTube and they need to create a structure for it, what they will do first is to start looking around and see how other apps or websites are showcasing videos, they may look at TikTok, Facebook, Netflix and see how people interact with their videos, take notes ask a few questions and then come up with a structure.
Going back to the architect analogy, same as an architect knows that if a person wants to enter or exit a building he or she will be looking for a door, which is common sense right? The same way a UX designer knows that users 99% of the time will be looking for their account settings by clicking on their profile picture, and he knows that because he asked people and he analysed how users behave. Don't believe me? Check it now! Go ahead click on your YouTube's account profile image and see what you will find.
Now after the UX designer finishes gathering all these data, they will analyse it and based on their findings they will define and create the blueprint, which by the way in design terms is called a wireframe. The wireframe will showcase things like how many pages the product will have, where things will be placed, how the page will be structured, what functionalities will the product have but this will not be very detailed, usually, most UX designers will just draw the structure using grey boxes and text, nothing fancy, you can even use windows paint for that, but please don't do it. That's why after defining the wireframes they will hand them to the User interface designer or the UI designer.
Now the UI designer kicks in takes those blueprints aka wireframes and turns them into beautiful user interfaces. You can think about him as an interior designer he is the one who decorates, paints ads furniture to the house he is the one who makes your home feel cosy and warm instead of you being surrounded by plain white concrete walls. He is the one usually working with the marketing team and developers to make sure that the product design is within the branding guidelines and that everything looks and feels just right before presenting it to the users.
He/She is the one that knows things like responsive design (which is a fancy term for saying that the designs need to look good on all digital devices, phones tablets, laptops, computers and so on), he is the one who knows how to match colours, how to pair fonts, he will think about animations and transition for the product, pretty much anything that you see on your screen right now was designed by a UI Designer.
These roles are not always this clearly defined as most companies cannot afford to hire highly specialised designers in only one niche. So what you will find is that most small to medium companies will be looking for designers that know a bit of both, designers that can help them out throughout the entire process instead of being specialised only in UX or UI, we usually call these designers hybrids hence the wild spread term UX/UI Designer. So keep this in mind during your journey if you want to get a job strictly in UX or UI and you want to get specialised in only one field and get extremely good at it, your best option is to look for positions or opportunities in very big companies like Banks, Social media companies, Big brands and so on. But on the other hand, if you want to be a bit more hands-on throughout the entire process from idea to final product look for opportunities in startups or small companies as usually, those have a limited budget and they need someone that can do everything.
The same thing goes for a company as well, if you have a small business and you're looking to hire someone to help you out with the designs, I would suggest you look for a designer that has experience in delivering end to end products.
I hope these bring a bit of clarity of what a UX/UI designer is and does and if you know someone who might need help understanding the role of a UX/UI designer please feel free to share this blog post with them.