What sort of subjects should I take if I want to do User Interface design?


I need to decide on my A-levels. I was wondering whether User Interface design was quite code-intensive or whether others did the coding whilst you designed the appearance.
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I doubt that many companies can afford a graphic artist and a psychologist to tell the programmer what code to write. You do it all yourself – finding out what the user really needs (even big corporations get that wrong sometimes – I give you Vista as a prime example), what looks nice and the code to make it happen.

If you’re not looking to become a programmer, you don’t want to get into UI design – the opportunities for work are much too limited.


In most cases I know of User Interface design is code-intensive. The problem is that most code- intensive education does not focus on User Interface design; there might be one or two courses but not a comprehensive program.

I suspect someday there will be a greater division between interface designers and coders; at present this is not the case.


There are several professions where you get to do user interface design: “user experience (UX) designer” and “program / product manager”.

I’d recommend a couple books on the subject: for UX design, take a look at About Face 2.0; for program management, read “How would you move Mount Fuji”.

Personally being a Program Manager at Microsoft today, I get to do quite a bit of user interface design; I don’t code any of its implementations. That said, it’s very important to be able to speak the same language with the developers; I’d still recommend to take a bunch of programming courses.

That said, for the actual user interface design, the best classes are in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI).

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