Being a good artist is not the only thing you need for a career in graphic design. Modern graphic and user interface design is all about making interactive designs that people will use. It really helps to have a solid understanding of business and grasp the goals of the web interface you are creating. Aren't there interfaces that are not on the internet? Sure, there might be some, but these days just about everything is connected to a web of some kind, even if it is just on a local network within a company.
Interface design is basically graphic design that is being used to navigate information for goals, a purpose or to perform some kind of funciton whether that is delivering information, selling products, or advertising a service. UX design can range from website design, non-web software design, kiosk interfaces and website software design. The most common type of interface design is that for the web. If you have ever designed a website, you have some experience in interface design. However, there is a lot more to UX design if you want to be at the top of the game. The best rule of thumb to keep in mind is to make it very easy for people to find the information they need....and in some cases, tastefully including things that will help accomplish your business goals. Let's start by talking about the process for making a smart website interface design.
The first step in web interface design for a website is designing (or being given) an outline of the pages and content for the site. This outline is often called the "information architecture", or "IA". It should consider the goals you are wanting to accomplish. For example, if you are building a website for a medical office or a group of doctors, then your goal might be to get more patients for the medical office. So, to accomplish this through a website you want to get the user to fill-out a contact form or call the doctors office to set-up an appointment. You also want to "pre-qualify" a lead so that the business you are working gets inquiries from people that are a good match for them. Here is a list of common goals for a medical office:
So now that we have established some goals for this example, we will decide what the other pages on the site will be in order to design our interface to accomplish our goals. So in the next step, we will consider what our website visitors will want to find out about the business before they will take action and contact the office. Some examples of things they will want to know can include:
1) Can their insurance can be used at the doctor's office?
2) Where is the office located and is it within a reasonable distance of the patient?
3) What fields of medicine do the doctors practice (internal medicine, physical therapy, cardiology, etc.)?
4) What is the track record and experience of the physicians in there are of practice?
5) What do their previous patients have to say about the doctors?
6) How easy is it to set-up an appointment and transfer medical records to them?
7) What resources are provided by the office including patient education?
There are many ways to find out the answers to these questions. The best way is probably going to be either talking with the managing partner of the practice and/or office manager.
Once we have verified the answers to the above questions, you can decide on the sections of the website and get started on the actual wireframes and design of the site. Based on this example of a medical office and the information we gathered up to this point, we could decide the main links on the website would be:
AREAS OF PRACTICE / SERVICES
Your design should not try to re-invent the wheel too much. Keep it clean and simple. Also, remember the fundamental principles of interface design: keep information accessible and easy to find. Anything you do while designing that distracts the users from this goal is usually going to be counter-productive to the goals of the business.
Ten years ago I was really into building flash websites. Most of the the "new" interface design techniques that are out at this time have actually been around for a long time. In many cases, the general public is still not ready for most of it unless you are targeting young adults in their late teens or in their 20's. Your user is your #1 focus when creating a usable interface and the most important thing to remember is that you are creating something FOR them, not you.