User experience (UX) designers are masters at creating seamless, easy-to-use products. Designers not only need to learn fundamental UX skills, but are also expected to keep up with changing tech trends and user preferences in this fast-evolving space.
It takes a balance of technical and soft skills to cut it in the design world. Even if you’re an expert in every Adobe product, you’ll also need to prove your communication abilities, teamwork and empathy in order to get hired as a high-level designer.
If you’re looking to get started in the rewarding field of UX design, read on. We rounded up all the skills you’ll need to learn to become a UX designer. We’ll also discuss how user interface (UI) design fits in and why UX/UI bootcamps are an effective way to kickstart your design-based career.
What Does a UX Designer Do?
A UX designer is responsible for creating products and services that provide an intuitive and engaging experience for the user. The process of UX design involves branding, designing, and improving the usability and functionality of the product.
Let’s look at the job responsibilities of a UX designer:
- Conducting user research
- Interpreting data and feedback
- Creating user stories and storyboards
- Developing prototypes and wireframes
- Collaborating with designers and developers
- Communicating ideas and prototypes to developers
- Conducting usability testing
These core job responsibilities can vary depending upon the work structure, team, and company that you choose to work with.
Soft Skills Needed to Become a UX Designer
Social and interpersonal skills are often called soft skills. Along with technical skills, strong soft skills are required to work well with other people in a company structure. Here are some important soft skills you must master to become a UX designer:
- Communication: You need to present your ideas to stakeholders and clients, which requires good communication skills. Your communication skills will also help you collaborate with your team members and other colleagues. You should work on written, verbal, and visual communication skills. Try to improve not only your speaking but your listening skills as well.
- Collaboration: A successful UX designer should know how to work in harmony with others and how to be a good team player. You’ll have to work with developers, content strategists, and many other employees. If you’re good at collaborating, your journey to the top will be easier.
- Analytical Skills: UX designers deal with lots of data. So it’s important that you understand how to analyze this information. In today’s customer-focused world, data is a major part of every company’s decision-making process. Learning what users like and dislike is key to creating a flawless user experience.
- User Empathy: The whole idea behind UX design is to understand and meet customer demands and expectations. You should understand the problems of the users and create solutions accordingly. A person who is detached from the user will struggle in the field of UX design.
- Organization: As a UX designer, you have to be extremely organized. You need to take care of various things like design briefs, prototypes, wireframes, design specifications, and many other aspects. Not being organized can affect your efficiency and can lead to an unnecessary increase in your workload.
Technical UX Design Skills
Hard skills are job-specific technical and functional skills. They’re essential for carrying out UX design responsibilities. Let’s look at these skills:
- User Research: You have to be good at conducting research. As a UX designer, you’ll have to carry out user testing, interviews, surveys, questionnaires, and focus groups. These all require strong research and analytical skills.
- Wireframing and Prototyping: Before actually developing applications, it’s important to create prototypes to understand their functionality and iron out any problems. Some important tools used in this process include Marvel, Sketch, Balsamiq, Canva, and Figma. These can range from low-fidelity hand-drawn models to high-fidelity digital mockups. Employers expect candidates to be familiar with these tools so they can communicate and test their ideas.
- Interactive Design: Along with being aesthetically pleasing, the application should be easy to interact with. An intuitive interface, well-defined goals, and a strong purpose are all examples of good interactive design.
- User Flows: This is a crucial skill needed in the UX industry. User flows help you understand the path a user takes while using a product or a service. There are usually three types of user flow charts including wire flows, task flows, and user flows. These charts provide information on each step. From the entry point to the final decision.
- Coding: The difference between designers and developers can be quite blurred in the tech world because most UX designers come from an engineering background. Good coding skills are definitely a plus, but not essential. It might not be listed on the job description but most recruiters will be impressed to see coding skills on your resume.
- Information Architecture: You need to be good at prioritizing and organizing complex information. This will allow you to control the flow of information. If information is not properly structured and controlled, it can lead to a confusing and bewildering product experience.
- Visual and UI Design: You don’t have to be a master of visual and UI design. But having some basic knowledge is vital to make it in the UX design space. There’s plenty of cross over between UX and UI design as both roles share many responsibilities. The product interface plays an important role in the whole user experience.
How to Learn UX Design
A UX-based degree course is a traditional path taken for many aspiring UX designers. However, a degree isn’t actually required to get started in this field. A degree can take up to 4 years to complete and incur expensive tuition fees. Due to the big investment of both time and money, many students are following alternative routes to kickstart their UX design career. Here are some tips on how to learn the necessary skills:
- Enroll in a Bootcamp: These online programs are designed to teach students career-ready skills, fast. Join our UX/UI bootcamp to fast-track your way into a well-paid UX position. You’ll benefit from expert mentorship and receive our full support throughout the course. Our curriculum has been put together by leading professionals that understand exactly what you need to be successful in this field. As part of the training, you’ll build a professional portfolio to impress prospective employers and help launch your UX career.
- Build Your Network: Networking allows you to connect with like-minded UX professionals. This will help you grow professionally as well as personally. If you feel like networking, you can join societies like the User Experience Professionals Association, AIGA, or other online communities and forums. You can share your opinions and ideas with other people in your industry. This can help develop ideas, look at things from different perspectives, and learn new areas of expertise.
- Stay On-Trend: If you want to be a successful UX designer, you should keep your ear to the ground and follow the latest trends. Stay up-to-date on industry news, read UX blogs, and follow your favorite designers on Twitter to keep up. You can take inspiration from their work and use your innovation to create outstanding designs.
- Try New Tools: Instead of sticking to tools you learned years ago, you should make an effort to use the latest software in order to stay relevant in the industry. And when you do learn a better way to build wireframes or create customer surveys, remember to add that skill to your resume to impress future employers.
- Ask for Feedback: Criticism and negative feedback are a reality in any creative field, and that’s ok (it’s actually a good thing). Feedback can help you improve your designs. Some UX designers might be anxious while sharing their first drafts or new ideas with others, but getting second opinions will only work in your favor. You can get a fresh perspective on your designs and then work on your shortcomings (which we all have).
- Find a Mentor: If you’re a beginner, then having a senior UX designer as a mentor can be a blessing. Your mentor’s experience, support, and guidance can teach you a lot of things, which you might otherwise take years to learn on your own. They can provide a good roadmap for your career and act as a confidant who is receptive to your professional ideas, problems, and fears.
Your Next Steps to Become a UX Designer
If you’re an aspiring designer with a passion for providing amazing user experiences, a future in UX design is perfect for you. And you can achieve your dream career faster than you think. With hard work, dedication, patience, and practice, you’ll soon be iterating and wireframing at a top tech firm.
If you’d like to continue your research, you might be interested in learning about careers in UX/UI design (and how much they pay).