Your guide to UX/UI design skills (and how to test for them)

The best advice in pre-employment testing, in your inbox.

No spam. Unsubscribe at any time.
Close
CTA

Hire the best. No bias. No stress.

Our screening tests identify the best candidates and make your hiring decisions faster, easier, and bias-free.

Try for free
Close

Your guide to UX/UI design skills (and how to test for them)

Are you recruiting for a UX/UI design-related role? Maybe a UX/UI designer, a web designer, a mobile designer, a product designer, or an interaction designer?

If the answer is yes, you're in the right place.

If your answer is no, but you want to find out more about UX/UI design skills, then you're still in the right place.

What is UX/UI design?

UX/UI design refers to user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design.

Since our online world is ever-increasing, more attention is being directed toward online user experiences with companies, products, and services. You'll often see UX and UI thrown together because they're related to one another and usually go hand-in-hand.

In the modern business world, companies that want to thrive must place the quality of the customer or user experience at the heart of all their operations. UI/UX designers are imperative, and companies should have them involved right from the start.

In 2022 the ROI of UX is 9,900%, and research shows that fixing a UX problem after launch costs 100x more than tackling it before.

user experience

UX/UI design Q&A

What's the difference between UX and UI?

The difference between UX and UI is the same as the difference between interface and experience. Interface refers to all of the aspects of a product or service that users interact with. Experience, on the other hand, is defined by the kind of interaction users have with those products or services and how they feel about them.

Put simply, UX is the why of a product, and UI is the how.

You can ask users technical questions about interfaces, for example:

  • Did you find the website easy to use?
  • Is information signposted well and easy to find?
  • Were you able to easily navigate to the checkout section?

To evaluate user experience, you need more emotional and psychological questions and answers.

  • How did using our product/service make you feel?
  • Did you have a positive experience with our website?
  • What did you take away from your interaction?

UI is the bridge that gets us where we want to go, UX is the feeling we get when we arrive.

Jason Ogle – Designer at CACI International (2018)

Can one person be a UX and a UI designer?

Yes, it's possible. UX and UI design frequently overlap, so many companies and organizations choose to combine these roles into one. This gives their employees the potential to grow, too. As UX/UI designers, rather than one or the other, they can improve their skills in whichever areas they are less proficient in.

Some people argue that 'user experience' is an all-encompassing term for end-user interactions with a company, its services, and its products. In this view, UI is actually a part of the UX, meaning any UI designer is by proxy also a UX designer. This is reflected in the fact that companies will often just advertise for a UX designer, and the role description will incorporate both UX and UI design.

Do UX/UI designers code?

UX and UI design do not require coding. Companies are more concerned about acquiring talent with high-quality design skills.

Although coding is never a requirement, it can sometimes be a competitive advantage. So the real question is, which designers benefit most from being able to code?

  • Firstly, and most obviously, designers who enjoy engaging with the technical side of interaction design will benefit from knowing how to code. It's always smart to leverage an interest or passion to upskill.
  • Secondly, independent UX/UI design consultants. Being able to create designs and execute them in code will make you stand out among freelancers – by hiring you, business owners will be able to kill two birds with one stone.
  • Lastly, designer-founders benefit hugely from being able to code. If you're a designer with an entrepreneurial streak and a personal project you want to bring to life, you can save a lot of money if you're able to implement your ideas in code.

How much do UX/UI designers earn?

Salaries will vary depending on the country you're in, the company you work for, and the seniority of the role you're in. Below we've assembled some data from Career Foundry about the average annual salaries in 2021.

Country Lowest salary (average) Highest salary (average)
United States US$69,600 US$114,300
Canada CA$50,000 CA$101,800
Australia AU$59,500 AU$115,600
Germany €34,500 €70,000
China ¥126,000 ¥297,000
United Kingdom £30,600 £65,700

The UX/UI design processes explained

User research is at the core of good design

Any design process begins with user research. Businesses thrive by learning how to best serve their target audiences, empathizing with them, and coming to sound conclusions about how to provide them with a positive and enjoyable experience.

Because UX and UI are concerned with creating and improving digital experiences, designers need to think about elements such as layout, navigational options, images and graphics, buttons, and calls to action. All of these comprise the user experience. UX designers should ask themselves:

  • Why do users land on this website?
  • What information, service, or product are they looking for?
  • What problems might they have?

UI relates to the specifics of a website's design and appearance – everything from typography to color schemes and button sizes. UX tends to be more pulled back from these aspects, avoiding detail orientation to focus on understanding how users might engage with the design of the product itself.

build products that bring joy

Although user research is still important for UI designers, they must ask themselves a different set of questions about users, for example:

  • What appeals to my users visually?
  • What do I want them to feel
  • What can I do to the interface to help them feel that way?

The design process is determined by design thinking

Following user research, the UX/UI design process follows five steps as they are defined by design thinking. The process of following the steps is iterative, but non-linear. They are as follows:

  1. Empathize. Get to know your human users with the aim of understanding their wants, needs, and objectives as deeply as possible.
  2. Define. Define your users' problems based on your research from the previous stage. Construct a clear problem statement that frames - in user-centred terms - the problem you've identified and intend to create a solution for.
  3. Ideate. Come up with ideas for potential solutions. Incorporate as many views, perspectives, and voices as possible to ensure diversity of thought. Build a portfolio of your best options.
  4. Prototype. Make scaled-down mock-ups of your potential products or solutions. Use these to iron out and perfect ideas. Prototypes facilitate communication and revelations that may require taking a few steps back to the ideation stage.
  5. Test. This is the user testing stage. Pull your best prototypes together into a complete product that you can test in real life. New problems will likely surface, taking you back to previous stages.

You can find out more about design thinking, its importance, its history, and its nuances, in our guide to design thinking blog post.

UX design: The quadrant model

UX can also be divided into four quadrants. This is a useful way to break down and approach the design process.

1. Experience strategy (ExS)

This area involves combining technical business and design strategies into solutions that will bolster a great user experience. A good experience strategy will ensure a company's vision, its user and customer needs, and its technical capabilities are operating in unison. It helps teams manage their resources by providing concrete ways to solve specific problems for certain users.

2. Interaction design (IxD)

The Interaction Design Foundation defines IxD as the design of interactive products and services in which a designer's focus goes beyond the item in development to include the way users will interact with it. It demands close scrutiny of users' needs, limitations, and contexts, empowering designers to customize their output to suit precise demands.

There are five dimensions of IxD to consider: Words (1D), visual representations (2D), physical objects/space (3D), time (4D), and behavior (5D).

Interaction design is probably the heaviest of these quadrants, and interaction design is often used interchangeably with UX design even though it focuses solely on the moment of use. UX concerns the entire user journey.

3. User research (UR)

As we emphasized before, user research is key if companies want to create products, services, and solutions that work, and that people want to use. All good design, no matter the context, is user-centric.

Empathy is key here – it's the first stage of design thinking, but it's important to maintain empathy for your users in every other stage, too. When it comes to user research, it's your most powerful tool.

4. Information architecture (IA)

Information architecture refers to the structure and design of environments where information is shared. It involves the organization of content on websites, applications, and social media channels.

With IA, the idea is to organize information and content in a way that optimizes your users' experiences. Your new users should be able to easily adjust themselves to the way your product functions, and your existing users should be satisfied that they can easily locate any information they need from you.

A product's design should be informed by effective IA. IN UX, IA will include labeling content and information, defining navigation systems, and providing search systems for users.

Core UX/UI design skills your candidates need

UX/UI design skills

Design thinking

Over the past decade or so, design thinking has been recognized as an important social technology that enables innovation. Whether design thinking is implemented as a mindset or a methodology, its premise is quite simple.

Design thinking employs an iterative process in which designers seek to understand their users, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems to reach innovative solutions.

The process involves five stages (empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test) which can be followed in a non-linear fashion to build products, services, and solutions. There's far more to it, and it's a term that requires some demystifying if you're not familiar with it, so we've put together a quick and easy guide to design thinking to help.

The best UX/UI designers will have a strong grasp of design thinking, its processes, and its principles.

Wireframing and UI design

A wireframe is the skeleton of the eventual user interface of an application or product. It's a sketch of the UI that conveys its key features and functions without conveying the visual design in detail.

Creating wireframes using different tools and software is one of the most basic and crucial tasks that UI/UX designers have to do. They're vital for the beginning of the design phase in the same way that blueprints are vital for architects and planners.

Wireframes are commonly divided into three types: Low, high, and mid-fidelity. UX/UI designers should be proficient at creating all three before moving through the next stages of UI design. There are many useful wireframing tools, but Figma, Sketch, Adobe XD, and Balsamiq are the most popular.

If you want to hire a good UX/UI designer, you should be looking out for candidates who are proficient at wireframing and familiar with the UI design process outlined earlier in this blog post.

Prototyping and testing

There is more to design than just being creative: Things get practical sometimes, too. The best UX/UI designers will be able to successfully prototype and test their ideas before implementing them.

In the design thinking process, the prototyping and testing phases are the most important stages for gathering feedback from target audiences and identifying potential areas for adjustment.

Because of this, it's hard to over-emphasize the importance of prototype testing. Without it, ideas will only ever exist on paper. How can you modify something to meet its user's needs if you don't prototype and test? Ensure you employ UX/UI designer candidates who can do this and respond well to constructive criticism.

Prototyping is the conversation you have with your ideas.

Tom Wujec

Developer handoff

This is the stage where the UI design is ready for developers to start implementing it in code. Information must be communicated to the developers clearly and effectively for a smooth handoff. Errors, no matter how small, can cause both designers and developers to lose valuable time, and might even affect the final product.

From idea to launch, products and solutions undergo a whole host of handoffs and conversations. But the design-to-development handoff is often the most stressful, because designers and developers perform such different tasks.

In most cases, there's a knowledge gap. And it can only be bridged with constructive communication and an effective handoff. Hiring candidates who are skilled with developer handoffs will save your business time and money.

Soft skills for UX/UI design

Communication

As we just discussed, good communication is at the crux of a successful developer handoff. Because of this, if you're recruiting a UX/UI designer, it's vital that you identify and shortlist candidates with good verbal and written communication skills.

Your candidates should also be excellent at visual communication. Creating visuals that communicate effectively with users is a chief concern for user interface design.

Problem-solving

Design thinking frames the design process as one where designers effectively identify problems and then navigate their way from problem to innovative solution. So, naturally, problem-solving skills are important for any UX/UI designer to have.

Attention to detail

The journey from idea to product needs to be a thorough and rigorous one. Fixing UX problems after a product or service launches is costly: As we mentioned at the beginning, it costs companies about 100 times less to fix problems before launch.

Employing UI/UX designers with impressive attention-to-detail skills is a reliable way to get the intricacies right and avoid incurring extra time and resource costs.

Time management

Time-management skills are important in any workplace. For designers, the progression of a product's development cycle depends heavily on their ability to complete tasks on time. Although attention to detail is important, the pursuit of perfection can introduce endless revisions and slow processes down. The best UX/UI design candidates will harness their knowledge and expertise to prioritize their tasks effectively.

Hiring a UX/UI designer? We can help

As you can see, there are a lot of skills involved in UX/UI design. If you're recruiting a UX/UI designer, you'll have no way of knowing whether your applicants actually have these skills or not by just looking at their CVs.

CVs and resumes make for costly, ineffective hiring practices. These outdated documents are especially bad for digital and tech-related recruitment because they only offer information about education and experience, while skills like UX/UI design are frequently self-taught.

So, how can you make sure you hire UX/UI candidates who have all the skills listed above? We've made it simple.

With TestGorilla, you can:

  • Browse our comprehensive and ever-growing test library
  • Select which tests you wish to give to your applicants
  • Build a complete pre-employment skills assessment to send to your candidates

The results will show you how candidates compare for certain skills at a glance. All of our tests are crafted by industry experts, and you can add custom questions as you wish.

How to test UX/UI design skills in candidates

Use our UX/UI design test

Earlier, we outlined four skills that make up the UX/UI designer skillset. To recap, these are:

  • Design thinking skills
  • Wireframing and UI design skills
  • Prototyping and testing skills
  • Developer handoff skills

TestGorilla's UX/UI design test can assess your applicants in all four areas at once. This intermediate test lasts ten minutes. In this time, it will reliably evaluate candidates' knowledge of the overall design process and their ability to turn feature requirements into intuitive and innovative digital product designs.

The test will ask candidates direct questions about these topics, as well as situational judgment questions that ask them to react to situations that they might be presented with as designers. Here are some examples.

user story statement

Here, candidates are asked to deduce some conclusions from a user story. Their answer will demonstrate their knowledge of user story etiquette.

change this design

This question is asking candidates to suggest changes to improve a design. It assesses design skills by asking candidates to use situational judgment. Candidates who answer correctly show their ability to identify areas for design improvement.

user-flow-diagrams

In this final example, candidates are asked to choose steps where user flow diagrams might be useful. It measures knowledge of user flow diagrams and visual communication skills.

Other relevant tests

There's much more to being a successful UX/UI designer than the role-specific skills that this test measures. That's why we recommend combining three to five tests to create a complete assessment for your candidates. This way, you'll get a well-rounded understanding of their skillsets, and also of who they are as people.

You can search our test library to find other relevant tests and build your assessment. We offer role-specific, personality and culture, cognitive ability, language, programming, and situational judgment tests.

test library search

To assess UX/UI candidates for the soft skills discussed above, you can give them:

Tailor your assessments to what matters to your company, and add custom questions to get relevant qualifying answers from your candidates at the top of the hiring funnel.

Skills-based hiring has never been easier. You can hire the best without bias or stress with TestGorilla – sign up for free today or choose a pricing plan that works for you.

Leave a comment

Hire the best candidates
with TestGorilla.

Create pre-employment assessments in minutes to screen candidates, save time, and hire the best talent.

Try for free

Free resources