If you’re looking for an exciting and creative career in tech, UX design might be the perfect option for you. In this article, we’re going to talk about everything you need to know to become a successful UX designer.
What Is UX Design?
User experience (UX) design is a process that design teams use to design products for optimal use and function. UX designers are responsible for providing users with a good experience, and they do this by improving the way humans and machines interact. UX design is not only limited to websites and mobile applications, but also includes products such as printers and coffee machines.
User experience is a broad term that can change with the product or service in question. UX designers have to consider many factors for a good user experience. One of the factors is the aim of the product itself. What is the product trying to accomplish? Why would the users need it? With points like these in mind, designers can incorporate usability and attractive features in the product.
With digital technology progressing and the number of products and services growing, brands need to provide a good user experience. UX is also essential for brands to stay relevant in the competitive market. Because of the importance of UX, the demand for UX designers is high.
Differences Between UX And UI
The terms UX and UI are often used interchangeably. Although they’re closely related, they have different functions. UX is the process of designing an enjoyable experience for users while using a product, whereas UI is User Interface design and is responsible for the look of the product. UI designers focus more on the visual design of a product, which includes typography, color schemes, images, icons, and buttons.
In any project, UX design is carried out first, followed by UI design. UX designers map out the users’ path through the product. UI designers then add in attractive and interactive visual elements.
Despite these differences, you’ll find many job listings asking for someone who understands both UI and UX design. So, if you’re interested in the description of both roles, you may want to consider getting educated in UI as well.
Role of A UX Designer
UX designers think from the users’ perspectives and aim to make the products easy and pleasant for everyone to use.
UX designers may work on a new product or update the existing products with new features. While doing all of this, UX designers have to pay attention to users’ expectations. Simultaneously, they need to keep the product in line with the company’s goals.
A shopping app is a simple example. You want filters to help you find products with ease. The registration page must be straightforward with the least number of steps. You want to be able to track the orders and expect good customer support options, and more. These are just some of the points to consider.
The day-to-day tasks of a UX designer may vary. Some of the common tasks include:
- Conduct Research
UX designers need to know who the target audience is. For this, they have to carry out research, which includes both searching the internet and talking to people. Internet research involves understanding the product and its competitors, while field research could involve finding out what the existing customers and potential customers want.
- Create Personas And Information Architecture
Based on their research on target users, UX designers create fictional character profiles to represent their customer base. This is known as UX persona or user persona. As a UX designer, you can use UX personas to better understand customers’ behavior patterns and needs. This will help you make better decisions and design an improved user experience.
- Create User Flows And Wireframes
UX designers use different methods to display the most ideal path users could take while navigating the product. One of these methods is making flowcharts called user flows, which are used to map the path users could take from the beginning till the end. Wireframes are more detailed. UX designers use wireframes to create a draft of a particular screen. With these, you can have a clearer view of the layout and interactions for users.
- Creating Prototypes And User Testing
UX designers are responsible for building prototypes and executing tests on them. At a basic level, a prototype is a draft for the entire product or a part of the product. Prototypes should run as close as possible to the actual products to test successfully. Testing prototypes on actual users will help to discover any remaining issues. UX designers have to be in close contact with development teams to ensure that all the features are correct.
After product launch, UX designers have to help update the product as and when needed.
Skills Required to Become A UX Designer
UX designers need to have good communication skills because they need to participate in meetings with clients and stakeholders. They also need to cooperate with development teams and other designers. So, UX designers have to express their ideas clearly while also being able to listen to others.
As mentioned earlier, UX designers should know how to see the product from the users’ perspectives. This is an important soft skill to help you make user-oriented decisions.
UX designers may also work with research data, prototypes, and wireframes--all at the same time for different projects. Thus, organizational skills are required for maximum efficiency.
Along with these soft skills, some of the hard skills you would need to succeed as a UX designer are:
- Research and analysis skills to carry out and understand data from surveys, questionnaires, etc.
- Information architecture to design the navigational structures and labels in such a way that feels natural to the users.
- Create wireframes and prototypes to test the designs.
Some of the tools you would most likely use include Photoshop, Canva, Proto.io, Sketch, InVision, and Illustrator, among others.
How to Get Hired As A UX Designer
If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably wondering how to get hired as a UX designer. First, you’ll need all the skills mentioned above to become a UX designer. There’s no shortage of special training and online courses to help you get educated.
We recommend Thinkful’s UX/UI Design Course because it’s been designed to help you land a job you’ll love post-graduation. Plus, you’ll receive one-on-one mentorship, and you don’t pay a cent until you get hired. During your education, you’ll also be able to start building your portfolio which is essential for a UX designer.
The roles of a UX designer differ from company to company. Small scale companies might look for UX designers who can do almost everything, whereas larger organizations tend to divide the tasks into different roles.
Some of these roles are:
- UX Designers – They’re responsible for carrying out research and converting it into usable information. They have to create prototypes and perform testing. UX designers have to be skilled at problem-solving. They also need to have basic business knowledge to understand metrics.
- UX Architects/Information Architects – They have to work with researchers to discover users’ needs and areas for improvement. They create flow diagrams and use cases to label information. UX architects need to have good teamwork skills. They need to understand design and interaction concepts. Their work is more focused on research, so they need to know about qualitative and quantitative research.
- UX Strategists – They take care of the business-end of user needs. UX strategists require good presentation and communication skills to convey ideas clearly. They need to have the market knowledge and research skills to understand competition.
- UX Researchers – They usually work with the product teams. UX researchers are responsible for planning and conducting surveys and interviews. They also help in defining user personas. Along with this, they use product analytics and tracking tools like Google Analytics to conduct their research.
- UX Copywriter – This is still a growing field in UX. This role focuses more on writing all of the text that users will interact with. Their writing should help a brand meet their needs. They need to understand product metrics to determine whether the existing copy is effective. Being attentive to details and being able to understand data are important skills to have.
If you’re just starting out, you should look for entry-level and junior roles to help you develop your skills and gain experience. As you can see, you have different job options available to look for. If you’re applying for one of these job positions at an entry level, obviously you’re not expected to have a ton of work experience. However, you will be expected to have an understanding of the basics and a willingness to learn.
UX design is one of the most in-demand jobs in tech. According to Indeed, a UX designer can earn, on average, $100,551 per year.
Start with A Career-Focused UX Design Education
UX design is a high-income, fulfilling career path. Companies need to develop products that not only satisfy users’ needs but are also enjoyable and easy to use, and that’s where UX design comes in.
If you’re starting out in this multi-faceted and constantly evolving field, you have a plethora of options to choose from, both academically and professionally. There’s a wide array of courses and guides to help you improve your UX skills and enhance your portfolio.
If you want some guidance as you kickstart your career in UX design, Thinkful’s team is ready to help you find your path. We’ve also got you covered with plenty of UX/UI articles to keep you inspired and informed throughout your journey.