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Is UI Design Stressful? What You Need To Know

If you are considering a career in UI Design, you’ll likely want to know is UI Design stressful. Being able to work in a stressful job is not something everybody enjoys doing. Some people can cope with the high demands of a job but others would much prefer a career with less stress.

As I have worked as a UI Designer for over 4 years, I hope to be able to set your mind at ease as regards how stressful UI Design is.

When working in an agile environment, particularly one that practices the SCRUM methodology, UI Design can be stressful at times but it is very manageable. For instance, you will know when the deadlines are for each part of the project. What’s more, in agile, there are always multiple iterations of a project. This means you have time to improve upon previous designs.

An agile environment can seem stressful from the outside as there are multiple iterations of a project. However, this allows for scheduled deadlines and continuous improvement of your designs. This is why I believe UI Design is not as stressful as you might think.

Of course, there are certain times where UI Design work can become stressful, as with any job. However, the stress is manageable and doesn’t last long.

Now that I’ve shared with you my thoughts on UI Design not being stressful, I’m sure you will want to know more about the work-life of a UI Designer. In particular, what a typical day as a UI Designer looks like, and how long it takes to become a UI Designer. Let’s look at all of this in more detail.

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How Many Hours Per Week Does A UI Designer Work?

Knowing how many hours you’re required to work each week as a UI Designer is important to know. It may even be one of the deciding factors for you becoming a UI Designer.

On average, a full-time UI Designer can expect to work between 30 – 50 hours per week. This can vary dramatically depending on the company you work for and the level of UI Designer you are i.e. junior, mid-level, or senior. On the other hand, as a freelance UI Designer, you control how many hours per week you work so this is completely up to you.

Of course, as I mentioned, the number of hours a UI Designer works per week can vary drastically depending on where you work.

Some companies no longer work traditional work hours and advocate for productive work rather than lots of work.

For example, companies such as Basecamp work reduced hours over the summer months to allow their employees to spend time with family or work on other projects.

Other companies may ask you to work a set amount of hours per week but leave it up to you to decide when you will work. This flexibility can allow you to plan out your week to suit your schedule.

As a freelance UI Designer, on the other hand, the number of hours you work per week is completely up to you. This is however a double-edged sword so you should carefully manage the hours you work per week to ensure you’re getting your work done. Your income can drastically be affected by how much you work each week so that is something to consider.

If you are a very productive UI Designer and can manage your time effectively you may be able to work fewer hours but still achieve the same high-quality output.

Of course, this also depends on how you price your work, whether it is an hourly rate or a flat rate per project. This is also something that will determine how many hours per week you work.


What Is A Typical Day As A UI Designer Like?

To give you some insight into what a UI Designer does on a day to day basis, let’s examine a typical day as a UI Designer.

The best example I have for this is my own workday as a UI Designer. With that said though, I do work a number of different roles during my workday. Considering that, I’ve condensed the UI Design tasks into 1 day to just focus on UI Design.

Also, I am working from home as of the time of writing this so also bear that in mind.

With that out of the way, let’s look at a typical day as a UI Designer:

Morning

  • 8:00 am: I wake up, have breakfast, etc. and get ready to start into work. Very exciting..
  • 8:30 am – 10:00 am: This is when I start work most days. We have core work hours but I always like to start early so I can finish early. I never check my emails or IMs until later in the morning. This allows me to initially work on my current workload without distraction. I often work on creating UI Design mockups in Figma based on the items in the current sprint. I’ve recently started using Figma for my mockup creation and have found it works really well when working remotely. I can easily share my work with developers so they can pick out the color values used and leave comments as needed.
  • 10:00 am – 10:15 am: At 10:00 am I check my emails and IMs. I then write down my top 3 tasks for the day based on this and the items in my Todoist backlog. I use Todoist to manage my tasks but write my top 3 tasks for the day on a post-it note and stick it to my monitor.
  • 10:15 am – 10:30 am: At 10:15 am we have our daily scrum. Each team member says what they worked on yesterday, what they will work on today, and if they have any impediments to their work. This gives us a chance to check in while we’re all working remotely. After the scrum, I take a quick tea break and work through the rest of the morning.
  • 10:30 am – 1:00 pm: For the rest of my morning, I’m usually on calls with developers or continuing work on my UI Design mockups. Calls with developers will usually involve a review of what they’ve implemented and then I’ll provide feedback based on the mockups I’ve created. On days with no developer calls, I put on my noise-canceling headphones, listen to some ambient music, and continue with my UI Design work. If I’m facing a design for a particular component like a complex table design, I’ll often do some research online to see best practices and different implementations. I then collate my notes into my Notion Design System so I can refer to it when I need to.

Lunch

  • 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm: Lunchtime. I turn off my laptop and leave my office to eat lunch and take a break.

Afternoon

  • 2:00 pm – 2:15 pm: After lunch, I check emails and messages once again to catch up with everything. This doesn’t usually affect my top 3 tasks but if it does I’ll adjust my list accordingly. I try to only have 3 items on my list each day to prevent my brain from going crazy.
  • 2:15 pm – 5:00 pm: The rest of my day is spent refining mockups, researching UI Design best practices for components, and calls with developers. I finish work at 5:00 pm most days as I generally start at 8:30 am.
  • 5:00 pm – 5:15 pm: At 5:00 pm I start my shutdown routine. I’ll close down everything I’ve been working on, review my todo list, and prioritize work for the next day. I then turn off my laptop and but it back into my bag so I don’t think about work for the rest of the afternoon.

There you have it, a somewhat typical day in the life of a UI Designer. My days will vary depending on where we are in the sprint and how busy we are in general. I find that writing out my top 3 tasks for the day helps to gear me in the right direction and focus my work. I highly recommend this to anyone to focus their day.

In researching for this article, I found another day in the life example, this time in the form of a video that you can watch:


Does UI Design Require Coding?

A source of stress for some people might be the prospect of having to code for a living. This is especially true if you have no coding experience or just don’t have the head for it. That’s why a common question someone looking into a career in UI Design might have is does UI Design require coding?

UI Design does not require any coding. As a UI Designer, you will predominantly be working at designing user interfaces using tools like PhotoShop, Sketch, or Figma. With that in mind, you don’t need any coding knowledge like HTML or CSS. Of course, by having some familiarity with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, you’ll be able to effectively communicate your designs to developers by using the correct terminology.

A person who can work effectively in both design and development is known as a unicorn designer/developer. This can be of huge benefit to you as your skillset will likely lead to an increased income if you are effective. With that said, however, some companies may take advantage of your increased knowledge and add more to your workload so think about this carefully.


Pros And Cons Of Being A UI Designer

Being a UI Designer, as with any other career path, has its fair share of pros and cons. Let’s now look at the pros and cons of being a UI Designer in more detail.

Pros Of Being A UI Designer

  1. A variety of work each day – As a UI Designer, you’ll be creating designs for different products almost every day. This variety of work is something that highly motivates some people as they enjoy working on something different each day. Over time, you will see some similarities in the things you are designing, this will allow you to use your learned skills and design techniques to create a professional and effective design.
  2. Continuously improve your design skills – A huge part of being a UI Designer is the continuous improvement mindset that goes along with it. UI design itself is a constantly evolving field and a UI Designer needs to keep up with trends, principles, and design techniques.
  3. Work collaboratively with other team members – Being able to work with others on a team is a huge benefit to being a UI Designer. Depending on the size of your team, you may be the only other UI Designer or there may be 2-3 of you on one team. Collaborating with other designers and developers will vastly increase your design and communication skills as you can learn from others.
  4. Good pay – It has to be said that being a UI Designer can pay pretty well as you can experience and develop your skills. According to Indeed.com a User Interface Designer in the US can expect to make around $85,000 per year. This is a pretty impressive yearly salary, especially if UI Design is something you enjoy.
  5. High demand career – Almost every company that is designing or building a product or service requires a UI Designer or a UX Designer. The demand for UI Designers is very high and so you will find lots of job opportunities in many types of companies from web development to software development etc.
  6. Can have a big impact on society – Every digital product or service you interact with daily, from your banking app to Netflix to the software on your phone is designed by a UI or a UX designer. UI Design is a very important profession as it gives you the opportunity to have an impact on the way things work in society.

Cons Of Being A UI Designer

  1. Negative critiques and feedback – The biggest hurdle I faced as a beginner UI Designer was having my designs critiqued. I would feel personally attacked whenever my designs were negatively received. An important thing to learn as any kind of designer is that you are not your ideas. Do not get personally attached to your designs and consider that the feedback being received is meant to help to improve your designs.
  2. Conveying complex designs to developers – If you are working in an enterprise software company or somewhere that requires complex designs to be created, it can be a challenge to convey design intricacies to developers or other team members. This requires you to develop your communication skills and design skills. You may have to create multiple versions of a mockup to convey a simple state change for example.
  3. You won’t always get to design what you want – An unfortunate reality some UI Designers face is not being able to design the types of things they want. This is not always the case but sometimes you will be required to create designs for products or services you may have little knowledge of or interest in.

How Long Does It Take To Become A UI Designer?

Knowing how long it can take to become a UI Designer is a common question to ask if it’s something you are considering. Do you have to go to college? How much work experience do you need? Do you need a big portfolio to get a job? These are all questions that crop up when getting into the area of UI Design.

Becoming a UI Designer can honestly take any length of time depending on the course you take. If you attend a UI Design college course that’s 3 years long then it will take about 3 years to become a UI Designer. If you get a job as a UI Designer after 1 month of building your UI Design portfolio, then it will take 1 month to become a UI Designer.

There is, unfortunately, no set time it takes to become a UI Designer. With that being said, there are ways to increase the chances of becoming a UI Designer quickly. We’ll look at just how to do this in the next section.

Before we finish discussing this topic, I found an interesting video on how long it takes to become a UI designer that you can watch below:


How Do I Become A UI Designer With No Experience?

We all want to become the best UI Designer or whatever profession with little to no experience, but is it achievable?

In my opinion, it certainly is with enough hard work and determination.

Here are the basics to get you started:

  1. Learn UI Design Principles and Patterns
  2. Become proficient in using a design tool like Figma, Adobe XD, Sketch, or InVision.
  3. Immerse yourself in design. Follow people on Behance or Dribbble and read plenty of articles.
  4. Take a course on UI Design, read UI Design books, listen to podcasts, or watch YouTube videos.
  5. Create a UI Design portfolio – build your portfolio from scratch or use Behance or Dribbble to host your work.
  6. Apply for UI Design jobs that are of interest to you or consider freelance UI Design

For more UI Design resources, check out my Toolkit page.


Conclusion

You’ve reached the end of the article. Let’s summarized what was covered before we finish:

  • First, I answered the question, is UI Design stressful?
  • Next, we looked at how many hours per week a UI Designer works
  • Next, we examined what a typical day looks like as a UI Designer
  • After that, I answered the question does UI Design require coding?
  • Next, we covered each of the pros and cons of being a UI Designer
  • Next, we looked at how long it takes to become a UI Designer
  • Finally, we looked at how you can become a UI Designer with no experience

I hope you found some value in this article. If you did, please consider sharing it on social media. It will help other people like you to find it and would be much appreciated.

Finally, if you enjoyed reading this article on is UI Design stressful, you might like to read these articles next:

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