UX/UI Design is an avenue that a lot of people are still confused on. What is it and what does it do? While some do clump both UX and UI under the same definition, they aren’t really alike at all. UX (user experience) focuses on the functionality of a product, creating the framework and fixing any kinks that may arise. Whereas, UI (user interface) focuses more on the feel of a product as it relates to the user. They normally spearhead the style guide creation so it’s cohesive with the UX.
We caught up with a couple of our tribers to discuss the ins and outs of becoming a UX/UI Designer. I also think it’s important to note that both Daniel and Adriana are self-taught designers and fully thriving independently!
Position | Functional Role:
Adriana is an AR (augmented reality) & VR (virtual reality) UX designer. She designs applications and stories taking place in a 3D space within a 2D screen. You can check out some of her most recent work here.
Daniel is officially a Product Designer, but the full scope of his role has to do with creating concepts, UX & UI, and building prototypes (shaping the design of a product). His most recent client is Asteria.
Hours | Pay Scale | Benefits:
A typical work day really depends on the project. As a freelancer, the term “working hours” is subjective, so both Adriana and Daniel said they normally try to negotiate a flat rate per project, therefore they’re not expected to work a certain number of hours, but instead to deliver certain results. However, Adriana does stress that it is critical to set time aside for synchronous communications with your clients every week, and in that case balancing timezones can prove to be tricky. She tries to adapt to her clients as much as she can – within a certain bracket. The largest time difference she’s worked with was 8 hours but only for short period of time. Beyond that, it is simply inefficient. Additionally, Daniel is a firm believer that creativity and productivity doesn’t always link with you working an 8 hour day – a burst of creativity might see you complete in a few hours everything you need to do so it’s good to have that flexibility versus feeling like he’s clocking in and out which typically happens when you charge an hourly rate.
The pay scale for a UX/UI designer can definitely vary depending on where you live (like most professions), but generally, a solid range is around the USD$100-150/hr on average. When negotiating a rate, Adriana advises not to discount yourself because you are working remotely; quite the opposite. She thinks of herself as a company making a deal with another company. The client has a problem that her company is offering to solve – and they negotiate the price of the solution. That way you can escape being trapped in a salary grid, while increasing your client’s revenue and fitting in their budget.
“When I make a price offer I set a minimum price per day for myself that I am willing to take for the contract and only accept if the negotiation stays above. “
In terms of health benefits, everything is out of pocket because both Daniel and Adriana are independent contractors. For Adriana, it’s a pro because she can choose the benefits that fit her needs best. Also, keep in mind that creating a customized travel insurance plan is sometimes less expensive than a normal health plan (this is specific to the US). Not to mention most US health plans do not cover you while you are travelling abroad.
Attributes for Success:
Communication, communication, communication. This is not only critical to be a good designer but also to maintain a healthy business relationship. Transparent communication means:
- voicing ahead your concerns if you’re hitting roadblocks (for instance, a task that proves more difficult than expected and may not be completed on time),
- taking the time to discuss the tasks and understand why they think they need these designs: do they want to attract new customers, get exposure and brand awareness, build their image, catch up with a competitor? Often a client will ask for a solution without informing you of their initial problem. It’s on you to dig that up,
- give proactive, regular updates (once a week) of what’s in progress and what you will tackle next,
- ask questions and make suggestions,
- visit your client in-person if possible, facetime builds trust.
Adriana is self-taught in design and development. She built her first AR (Augmented Reality) app, http://getfind.it, on Google Glass 4 years ago. The system was new and in a field that was still in its early development stages, and with no guides around best practice, Adriana had to forge her own way. She observed how people were interacting with the apps (or better yet – how they were dropping them, uninstalling them) in order to extract what could be the most intuitive ideas.
It is important to listen, and quietly observe, rather than influence your users with your own bias.
Finally, she’s constantly curious of how other designers work. When she finds an app that she thinks is a great piece of work, she tries to find who built and designed it on Twitter and Medium and follow them. Likewise, she posts a lot of her thoughts on design and the various challenges she encounters on her social media platforms; which invites comments & suggestions from others which are always enlightening and can lead to a creative solution.
Daniel is also self-taught in design. He started exploring the design world with a friend and continues to learn new methods by taking on projects specifically that will help him build on what he already knows, versus doing the same thing over and over again. He also studied at Hyper Island to shape his communication and presentations skills. Having the ability to accurately explain your skillset is a huge part of investing the time and the effort to gain the skills in the first place.
Aside from taking the advice from both Daniel and Adriana, we have found a handful of extra help online in the form of online training classes and helpful articles that will give you yet another perspective into the life of a remote designer. Udemy is a super popular online training website that allows you to take various classes in all sorts of fields. If you’re interested in just getting your feet wet in a new category, or completely immersing yourself into a new career path, it’s never too late to start, you just have to make the decision to do it, and then follow through!