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Fundamentals of UI/UX Design

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User Experience and User Interface design is one of the most employable professions today. The demand for UX designers has been on the rise in recent years. Product experiences are becoming more central to how users consume products. As the demand for more personalised and user-centric services increases, so has the demand for UX-related roles.

As a field, it is extremely versatile and straddles across multiple disciplines — technology, design, research, opening up many options even if you do not end up in UI/UX. You will learn skills and knowledge applicable to tech, business and design. In fact, there are significant overlaps with the functions of product managers and UX designers.

This begs the question: What does UI/UX entail and what are the basic principles of the practice? If you are new to the field, this article will provide the broad strokes of the discipline and what its core tenets are.

What is UI/UX?

Before understanding the UI/UX fundamentals, it makes sense to first look at the definitions. A user refers to someone who utilises or interacts with a product, service or digital interface.

User experience (UX) refers to the overall experience of users when they interact with a product. Perhaps it could be said that UX refers to an emotional experience or connection that a user has when engaging in a product. Taken together, a good user experience affects a user’s perception and experience with a brand. According to, understanding the needs, goals and struggles of your users is critical to designing positive user experiences. In the digital sphere, UX tends to deal with ease of use and whether users can achieve an end goal.

User interface (UI) can be considered part of UX – it is focused on designing interfaces that can lead to a better overall experience for the user. Compared to UX, UI takes on a more technical approach to how people interact with digital interfaces. As a department, UI draws on graphic and visual design, interaction design and information architecture. A good interface design depends on the designer’s ability to understand the needs of users and build pathways that will enable people to get to where they want to.

It is apparent from the definitions that users are at the heart of UI/UX design – that is one of the core principles of UI/UX design.

Principles of UI/UX design

While this list is by no means exhaustive, UI/UX can be seen as underpinned by the principles of empathy, strategy, usability and inclusivity.


Empathy is at the heart of the practice. UI/UX design places the user at the centre of the design and seeks to understand the problems that users build problems when using a product or service. A designer must take into consideration the expectations that users have as they utilise a product. In this user-centred approach, the ability to think from another person’s point of view, understanding the relationships and connections that users make on their user journey map is the key to an empathetic design.


Designing solutions for complex problems may not be easy. The design processes of UX are also often iterative. Therefore, it is important to have well-defined plans and goals before starting any project. A design strategy will highlight the objectives including chosen research methods, design solution, approach towards conducting user interviews, testing systems, and the definition of success for both the user and the business. It is also important for designers to understand that there could also be different stages in the design process and strategy that they are in.


Design should always feel intuitive and invisible. For example, when you are in a hurry to get on a cab, the last thing you want is to have to think about how to navigate your Grab app. The process should be as seamless as possible. Moreover, a good user interface or experiences take into consideration the usability of something by people of all ages and backgrounds. Making a product intuitive is the hallmark of a usable product.


Inclusion is something that needs to be worked into the design from the get-go, not as an afterthought. While it might not always be possible to include everyone in the consideration, designers should strive to account for the needs of people of different races, ages, genders, backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, and more. Being able to incorporate the experience and needs of the marginalised, even designing creative solutions for their problems can be a mark of exemplary practice.

An inclusive design recognises the needs of users who might experience exclusion due to being part of an oppressed group or a statistical minority. Intentionally including these groups of people become important because we risk unintentionally excluding them otherwise.


Since users are such an important part of the design process, the success of a design can only be verified by user testing. A key aspect of UX design is to test your design solutions with actual users of the product. With the feedback, not only can design be improved, it serves as a guarantee that the products created will be useful. In a way, a product is never really finished even after it is released. People are dynamic, needs can change. Designers should strive to continually test and ensure that the products they design will remain relevant.

The iterative process of UI/UX allows for continuous improvement and takes advantage of the power of iteration. The product or service does not stop improving when it is released – it is continuously improved upon. Depending on business goals, user needs, market trends or advances in technology, the product can be put through a repeatable UX design process. In each iteration, designers can identify new opportunities to continuously test and improve a product.

The business of improving quality of life

While it is easy to get caught up with the technicalities and processes of UX design as a designer, it is important to continuously remind yourself of the core principles of UX design. At the end of the day, UI/UX is about improving the quality of life of people. As a field, it has the potential to solve the complex problems of the world today – in healthcare, education, food and more. Powered by the engines of tech and business, UI UX has the potential to make a long-lasting impact on people’s lives when designers are grounded in the right principles.