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July 18, 2019

Working in Wireless: UI Designer .

Working in Wireless: UI Designer

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CTIA Melissa Gallant
Melissa Gallant
Creative Director

UI is short for User Interface. UI design concentrates on how a feature, like an app or logo, looks—the colors, fonts, and graphics. The goal of UI is to create simple and efficient interaction between humans and design.

As we discussed in our post on UX designers, UX and UI are both important parts of your wireless experience. While UX— User Experience design— focuses on how humans interact with something like their smartphone, UI designers make sure the apps and programs you run on your device have intuitive visuals that help you access information more efficiently, and in most cases, come with sleek looks to boot.

It’s an exciting time in UI design, as the next generation of wireless, 5G, offers faster speeds, lower lag time and increased capacity, which is driving exciting new advancements in technology—including new IoT devices and new wireless use cases. And with that, comes new challenges for UI designers.

For example, wearable devices like smartwatches and fitness monitors are becoming smaller—and so are their screens. Imagine you’re on a run and glance down at fitness tracker on your wrist. Can you quickly read your heart rate information, or is the type too small? Typographers— the designers who create lettering designs— are now designing fonts specifically for readability at small sizes on screens.

But does your UI design even need words? Icons can be a great alternative for even faster communication. High-resolution screens mean UI designers have more colors and capacity for details when they’re designing icons. There’s two things to remember: simple is better, and make sure your icon can successfully communicate across various demographics.

Do you recognize these classic icons? Original Macintosh icons designed by Susan Kare.
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Do you recognize these classic icons? Original Macintosh icons designed by Susan Kare.

Logos are usually designed to work in full color, one color, and reversed out—meaning the colors are swapped. That idea holds true for UI designs, too—a UI design should be adjustable based on the preferences and needs of a user. Devices and apps are giving users more control over things like wallpaper, background colors and light/dark mode. How does your icon, logo, type or button look against a light background? What about a dark background? Reversed-out type can reduce legibility. That means you may need to make your fonts larger.

UI design isn’t just about what you see—it encompasses all the other ways you experience an app, too. Wireless devices like Alexa and Google Home reply on voice activation. Designers have to make sure that the voice replying to a user is clear, speaks at an appropriate cadence and has a pleasing tone. In some cases design isn’t visual. It’s the sound that matters.

And whether you’re a UX or UI designer, don’t forget about accessibility. More people are taking advantage of accessibility settings on their wireless devices. Putting accessibility first makes sure new technology is available to all users. Whether it’s an app that helps you communicate or hail a ride, or a wearable or smart-home device, UI designers make sure everyone has the chance to take advantage of today’s innovations.

So next time you go looking for your favorite app’s icon or click through an intuitive menu on your smartphone, don’t forget— a great UI designer made those visuals possible.

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