Thumbnail by author, not my image though

I’ve been pursuing UI design for a couple of years now.

Well, only months where I was serious — the first year was just fucking around and finding out.

And I do this full-time and much better now than before.

Which helped me learn a lot since then.

The learning includes both ‘about the craft of design’ and also the‘on-job realities of the profession’ that I had no clue were a thing.

I’ll discuss the latter today.

It’s not that creative (currently)

It isn’t, sorry to break that to you.

Only a few designers come up with something that breaks the norm.

And even if they do, a bunch of keyboard warriors will drag them down for not following the norm.

Everything looks the same, and likely you’ll have to design a UI that has been done 137460 times already before.

More web designers are needed than mobile designers

It shocked me when I realized this.

Not because the numbers made sense but because how was I stupid enough to not realize this earlier ?

An average user isn’t likely to go to the App Store and download a new app every day.

I doubt they do it more than thrice a month.

But websites ? We go onto a new one almost every day.

Even I’m writing this article on a website text editor, not on an app.

Also to design an app you’ll need deep pockets, not necessarily the case with a website.

Lesser costs, easier to launch, easier to iterate on. You see ?

Engineers are the soul of the business, not us

You can buy a template and outsource the design part in an instant.

But you might still need someone to build that design with custom code.

When it comes to cost-cutting, a designer gets left out.

That’s sadly how things work in many places, and has been for a while.

Not everyone is a Brian Chesky.

Learning different design styles will put you ahead of others

I yap a lot about how visual designers don’t take risks, and the creative ones are told to not design outside a particular style.

Because being overly creative is what will take you further ahead in your UI design career.

Having a signature style works for illustrators and graphic designers.

But for UI bros ? Learn how to internalize different styles.

Not every UI designer is doing that citing niche and other excuses, it’s really easy to stand out.

For example, I gave up on my “minimal-condensed-type-heavy” style for my current “semi-skeuomorphic-flat” style.

And I’ll keep adding more with time.

Not all clients will respect your input

Again, the age-old issue of designers not getting a seat at the table.

Most clients, generally not the best-paying ones, consider us to be just image makers.

And that’s okay.

You can’t fight everyone that doesn’t agree with you.

Sometimes it’s just better to take the money, do the work, and leave.

You can earn more than you think

I network a lot more now than before.

And these conversations led me to find out how much some UI designers were earning.

And holy fuck man, I was undercharging.

$1000 is the minimum for a basic and standard website design, and that’s what I charged to make an entire MVP back in the day.

Potentially lost out on $1500 more.

That hurts, but in order to “earn” you first gotta “learn”.

And that means you have to take the L at times.

Most successful UI designers, the awwwards kind, make anywhere over $150k a year.

Crazy, right ? I didn’t even know designers can earn over $100k a year even in the US, let alone do that just being a UI designer.

The C-suite dealers and product management heavy ones can go up to $200k.


I’m writing something on Medium after almost 5 months, spare my rusty writing comprehension.

Will take me a while to get back on track after going full MIA.

Hi there 👋🏻 I’m Sharanya — a freelance UI designer writing about design and documenting his journey.

Currently booking projects — let’s chat.

Find me on Twitter, Dribbble & LinkedIn or reach out directly via email!

Check my design templates on my shop.

Sign up for my newsletter over here!

Realities As A UI Designer I Wish I Knew Earlier was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.