In the United States alone, the web design industry is worth over $20 billion with amateurs and professionals both contributing to its success. Approximately 16 million new websites are created every month! Europe too has a thriving and continuously growing creative web design community. Not only the global web design industry is growing but it’s evolving as well. From technological advancements to design thinking and the approaches to web design. If you are a budding web designer or thinking of pursuing this career, then here’s a primer.
Defining UI and UX
Once a upon a time there was only one unified term “web design” which described everything related to layout designs, menus, interaction, codes etc. But today, it’s a study of complex human behavior interacting with machines and vice versa. In this context two prominent terms which have evolved how we define web design are UI (user interaction) and UX (user experience).
UI defines the visuals of a web interface – for example should the buttons on the website be green or pink; should they be flat or with a gradient. It’s all about the look of a website which involves a careful planning of color coordination, visual elements such as shapes, text and images, and how users are motivated to interact with these elements.
On the other hand, UX design is the process that enhances user experience, satisfaction and desired outcome from an interaction. UX web designers work strategically to improve the usability and pleasure of interaction between the customer and product, in this case a website. Don Norman, co-founder of the Neilsen Norman Group Design Consultancy, invented this term in the 1990s. According to his explanation, user experience “encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”
UI and UX designs are often interchangeably used across the web design industry, because the two have so much in common — their relationship is like skeleton (UX) and skin (UI).
With the ever-changing advancements in technology, internet and creativity – UI/UX designers are always working one step ahead of time. As movies like Gattaca, Minority Report, Avatar, Matrix, and Star Trek inspire us, they motivate web designers as well, to bring the future to the present.
For that reason, the web design industry is seeing a major shift in simplicity and complexity. Although there are many designers still making pre-millennium designs, the scope of user experience has positively changed. Internet users are rapidly increasing due to widespread use of portable devices like smartphones, laptops, phablets, tablets and even watches. This is why designing a user experience, both technically and visually cutting-edge web designs, has become a priority for UI and UX designers.
And the following 13 UI and UX designers have contributed to this futuristic epoch. Whether you are a professional designer, a student or somebody interested in everything web design, they are the gurus you should follow.
1. Andy Budd
Andy Budd is a user experience designer from Brighton, England with numerous contributions to the world of UI/UX design. he is also the co-author of CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standards Solutions. He has been a partner at Clearleft, a digital design agency while simultaneously serving as a curator for UI/UX design events of London such as dconstruct and UXLondon.
2. Steve Fraschini
A self-taught creative UI/UX web and mobile designer from France, Fraschini is a former music composer. His plural skills solidify and permeate his artistic conscience. He’s been freelancer at Nespresso, Adidas, KitchenAid, Kenzo, and AXA etc. His experience will be of great help to all those designers willing to work as a freelancer.
— Steve Fraschini (@Novagraphix) October 2, 2015
3. Cosmin Capitanu
A Romanian UI designer, Capitanu’s style of design is contemporary and full of flat icons and transparency. He’s been experimenting with graphic and web design since he was 16, when he came across a Swiss Style tabloid. From then onwards, he’s been working on layouts, logos, interfaces and all other ways of visual representation. His approach to design is simple: clean and rational.
Testing out som' grid and layout'ing.You can see it here https://t.co/3LalhxxBuC
— Cosmin Capitanu (@CosminCapitanu) May 29, 2014
4. James Richman
A prized art director in Los Angeles, Richman has design experience of over a decade. He’s worked as a user interface and user experience designer at NBC Universal, Technicolor, and Pawazii. Moreover, he’s been a recipient of many awards from 2009 – 2011. Richman’s knowledge can help you stand firm in the web design industry.
— james richman (@james_richman) April 13, 2015
5. Jackie Tran
A Czech designer, Tran has worked as a UI and icon designer with Victoria’s Secret, Skoda, HTC, MetaLab, Cleevio, Snippit, CloudApp, and Tapmates etc. Apart from this, he is an award-winning photographer. His design represents harmonious use of color, and looks like he likes gradients!
I would much prefer "dislike" button than 6 different emojis on FB. #useless
— Jackie Tran (@jackietrananh) October 9, 2015
6. Aleks Faure
Not a very experienced lad, but Faure is linked with the UI industry for enough years to become an inspiration for those who are thinking of opting for this career. He is a freelance art director based in Paris, France. He’s worked with TextMaster, Colorz.fr, TONTON, and Epiclist etc.
— Aleks (@AleksFaure) September 13, 2015
7. Nikolay Lechev
Lechev is a UX designer and front-end developer, who has worked as a freelance web designer. In addition to this, he is the founder of AetherThemes. In 2013, he was among the Special Mentions from Awwwards. On tips of how to get recognized as a freelancer, follow him of twitter.
"Great design should be a part of everything, not just a garnish to make your product look pretty…" http://t.co/11TTM4ADOL
— Nikolay Lechev (@iamlechev) May 14, 2015
8. Anders Drage
A multidisciplinary designer, Drage is from Norway. As his UI design project, he created PicPac.com, and worked for clients like BabyShop, and Buggmakker (biggest hardware store in Norway). In case you are looking for modern inspiration then this is the man.
— Anders Drage (@AndersDrage) June 28, 2015
9. Elliot Condon
A Melbourne based web developer, Condon created the popular Advanced Custom Fields Plugin. He’s available on most social media platforms and via his blog. If you are interested in making plugins then he can be your inspiration or guide.
I've got something super cool planned for the next #advancedCustomFields PRO update! All I'm saying is it's been requested a lot 🙂
— elliot condon (@elliotcondon) October 2, 2015
Born in 1990, Roussilhe studying at HETIC: The Internet School, is passionate about the digital world. He interned at 8P Design in Montreal, DDB Paris, and Tribal DDB. All the young designers and students of web design related fields can connect with Roussilhe to gain knowledge about how young minds should work during their design internship.
— Timothée Roussilhe (@TimRoussilhe) October 6, 2015
11. Luke Van Lathum
Founder of thinkLuke, Lathum works with a team of dedicated developers and collaborative designers specializing in brand identity, web design, online marketing and search engine optimization. His work is available on design sharing sites like Deviant Art and Behance.
I just download SEQUI – FREE TYPEFACE and is awesome! http://t.co/J9TrJQ5vr9
— Luke Van Lathum (@thinkLuke) August 28, 2013
12. Stefan Hiienurm
A creative UI and UX designer, Hiienurm hasn’t only worked with several companies but has also helped businesses and startups improve their digital products. He’s received prizes for his work from 2013 to 2015 including Kuldmuna Bronze, and Estonian Design Awards. Moreover he’s the cofounder of Thorgate, and has worked with GateMe.
— Stefan Hiienurm (@shiienurm) October 12, 2015
13. Pavel Hůza
A front-end developer and web designer for 7 years, Hůza is interested in visual communication. Her major focus however is designing mobile, web and tablet interfaces. She’s also hands-on in web development, icon design and branding. Prior to this, she has worked as a freelancer at Precise Design, her studio. She’s working for a start-up company as their senior UI/UX designer.
— Pavel Hůza (@huzic) October 5, 2015
Designers from different cultures and experiences teach many things that books don’t, and following them would help gain hands-on knowledge that no one is going to teach you. There are certainly many more futuristic UI and UX designers around the world to inspire and guide you, but these are our top pick.
Who are you going to follow? Let us know your reasons in the comment box below.