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TechieGen Career Guide

How To Become A UX Designer

TechieGen's UX Design career guide is intended to help you take the first steps toward a lucrative career in UX Design. The guide provides an in-depth overview of the data skills you should learn, the best data training options, career paths in UX Design, how to become a UX Designer, and more.

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15 Minute Read

What Is UX Design?

UX design—an abbreviation of “user experience design”—involves the interaction between users and a product or service, usually (but not always) in the digital space. In other words, UX design is the craft of making the user’s experience when interacting with a digital product as effective, efficient, and pleasant as possible: the process of building products with the user in mind.

This sweeping definition covers a wide range of considerations, including accessibility, ease of use and navigability, brand coherence and positioning, and general aesthetics. It also covers the users’ moment-to-moment reactions and how these add up to create the overall experience—both within a single product and across interactions with the company behind it, from initial intent to purchase through to product maintenance.

At its core, UX design is the process of designing products and services that are easy to use and beneficial to the user, making the overall experience with your product enjoyable. The term “user-centered design” was coined by Don Norman (the first person to hold the title of User Experience Architect at Apple) in his 1988 book The Design of Everyday Things. Norman defines UX as encompassing “all aspects of the end user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.” Given its overarching influence on the way consumers interact with brands, UX design has become an essential component of today’s business world, and is already changing the way organizations create their products and services.

A UX Designer has to consider the “why,” the “what,” and the “how”:

  • Why would someone need this product?

  • What can they do with it?

  • How simple is it to use?

The “why” explains a user’s needs for a particular product. The “what” takes into consideration what a user can do with the product—that is, its features and functionality. And finally, the “how” primarily considers the experience: how customers will use the product, and what a UX Designer can do to ensure that the overall experience is as intuitive as possible. It’s not just about how a product, app, or website looks, although that is an important aspect—it’s about how customers experience it, which also comprises usability and feel.

That makes UX design a “human-first” approach that often requires layers of research, prototyping, and testing, and a UX Designer role often stretches far beyond the scope of an individual project. “A given design problem has no single right answer,” writes Designer Farhan Khan. “UX Designers explore many different approaches to solving a specific user problem.”

What Does A UX Designer Do?

A UX Designer is focused on all aspects of a product’s development, including design, usability, funcion, and even branding and marketing. Their work touches the entire end-to-end journey of a user’s interaction with a product, and includes identifying new opportunities for the product and business.

Given their wide scope, it’s no surprise that UX Designers perform vastly different types of work, depending on the company and project. In fact, one survey reported over 200 different job titles within UX design – not to mention wide-ranging responsibilities. But what exactly do UX Designers do?

There are a few key aspects to the UX design process—a cluster of core activities and responsibilities – that make up the bulk of a UX Designer’s day-to-day work. According to the 2020 BrainStation Digital Skills Survey, UX Designers spend a significant amount of time working in each of the following categories.

User Research

Many people aren’t aware of how much research UX design entails. In fact, market, product, and user research are major components of UX design, as research is crucial to understanding the user and their individual needs. User research often focuses on the behavior, motivations, and needs of a customer to help the Designer identify what opportunities exist in a particular market for product solutions. Among the research methods UX Designers commonly use to gather information and insights about target users are data collection, surveys, user interviews, and focus groups.

Persona Development

The development of user personas is another crucial phase of the UX design process. During this stage, UX Designers consolidate and interpret their findings to construct representative personas based on patterns and commonalities in their research. Each persona communicates a potential user’s demographic information, motivations, needs, potential responses, and anything else Developers will need to consider—a useful tool that helps the organization gain a clearer picture of who they’re building the product for.

Information Architecture (IA)

Information Architecture describes the way in which information is mapped out and organized to communicate a clear purpose—in a word, how the information is navigated. Adobe defines IA as “the creation of a structure for a website, app, or other product, which allows users to understand where they are—and where the information they want is in relation to their current position.” This blueprint ultimately aims to optimize the way users encounter, move through, and interact with the product or site; with this in hand, the design team can begin building wireframes and prototypes.

Wireframing

As one of the first steps toward building the final product, UX Designers create wireframes—low-fidelity design sketches that represent different screens or stages of the product throughout the user journey. Wireframes include simple representations of UI design elements, which serve as a guide for further development and product design.

Prototyping and High-Fidelity Design

Compared to wireframes, prototypes are a higher-fidelity design of the product, which can be leveraged for user testing and for illustrating the product to the development team. UX Designers create these prototypes to have a look, feel, and range of capabilities very similar to the projected final product. Clickable prototypes allow test users to interact with the product—which lets UX Designers try out practical variations of the experience and identify areas for improvement.

User Testing

There are a number of ways that UX Designers can test products. User testing is one of the most common, and involves allowing users to interact with a prototype of the final design to analyze its accessibility, usability, and intuitiveness. But there are other methods as well; focus groups, moderated user tests, and unmoderated user tests all provide valuable feedback on what is and isn’t working. Ultimately, product testing is one of the last, crucial steps toward identifying what changes should happen as you proceed with development.

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What Skills Does UX Designers Need?

To be a UX Designer, you will need to develop fundamental skills in user research and persona development, information architecture, wireframing and prototyping, and user testing, among others. A UX Designer’s skill set needs to be broad enough to handle all these tasks—and more. 

To become a UX Designer, you will need to have a number of technical skills crucial to the role. These include:

User Research and Strategy

Research is fundamental in determining users’ needs, and how they’ll interact with and respond to the finished product. For this reason, UX Designers need to be well-versed in research methods, including qualitative and quantitative data collection, and understand how to plan and conduct research and interpret and analyze findings. According to the design team at IBM, user research is key to the early identification of biases that could seriously hamper your product’s success.

Wireframing and Prototyping

Obviously, UX Designers need to be very knowledgeable about how users navigate and interact with flows of information. To apply this expertise to the design of products, they also need to be proficient wireframers and prototypers, adept at wielding the industry’s most widely used tools—including Sketch and InVision—to bring their designs to life.

A prototype is not an early version of the final product. It’s a communication tool—the primary communication tool used to convey aspects of the final design’s user-facing elements, both to the Graphic Designers and UI Designers working under the UX Designer, and to the Developers and other team members working alongside them.

User Interface (UI) Design

According to an InVision survey, 66 percent of UX job postings require UI skills. Visual interface elements like layout, typography, graphics, images, and animated motion are key to the user’s overall experience. While UX Designers may not be the ones putting the pieces together (this work is often done by their user interface or interaction design colleagues), they should have a strong sense of what design elements will optimize user interactions.

Responsive Web Design

UX Designers should be familiar with the concept of responsive design, which ensures that designs display differently across different screens. This is becoming more important with time, as well over half of all website traffic worldwide is now generated by mobile phones.

UX Designers also need to develop skills that serve the business side of product design, to effectively manage relationships and streamline a design process that comprises multiple departments.

Project Management

Knowing how to take a project or design from ideation to delivery is important. As a UX Designer, you aren’t solely responsible for the product’s development, but the ability to lead, coordinate, and stay on schedule and on budget will result in a more efficient product development process for all.

Team and Stakeholder Management

UX Designers collaborate with a diverse group of individuals within an organization, including Graphic Designers, technology and development teams, Product Managers, and senior management, to create products with optimal user function. When creating a product or service for a client, UX Designers need to be able to consider, address, and manage the expectations of stakeholders within and outside of the organization.

Because UX Designers work closely and liaise with so many groups of people, both inside and outside an organization, several soft skills also come into play—all of which factor into better teamwork and more effective integration of user input.

Empathy

One of the biggest challenges to user-centered design is comprehending how users think and act in a given situation; the assumption that users will approach and solve problems in the same way Designers and Developers do is a major pitfall, even leading to the assumption that interaction problems are the fault of users, or the failure of users to follow instructions. UX design means working for users—not the other way around. Understanding how users think and feel is the first step.

Collaboration

Given that UX Designers interact with many groups on a regular basis, the ability to effectively collaborate is essential. Active listening, taking initiative, including and eliciting views from others, and brainstorming are all effective skills that enable successful teamwork. It’s also crucial that UX Designers collaborate with the right people at the right time.

Communication

Developing communication skills is fundamental for UX Designers, as they will need to rely on these skills in almost every aspect of the job. Whether presenting to clients and project stakeholders, interviewing users, or collaborating with teammates, UX Designers need to be able to articulate ideas and listen to feedback.

This list may seem daunting—and it’s certainly true that UX design can be a complex process—but someone who has spent time working in development or other collaborative environments will likely have picked up many of these business and soft skills already.

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Is UX Design A Good Career?

Yes, UX design is a good career. Given the UX Designer’s involvement at so many stages of a project’s life cycle, UX Designers are one of the most in-demand positions in technology, with 87 percent of Hiring Managers saying that acquiring UX Designers is a top priority. Job site Indeed recently ranked UX Designer as the fifth most in-demand role in tech, and there’s reason to believe demand is only poised to rise.

There’s another compelling reason UX design is a good career choice: a high salary. According to Indeed, Graphic Designers bring home a median wage of $37,000 a year—compared to $89,000 for UX Designers. UX Designers are also treated well at the office: Forbes ranked it the second-best job for work–life balance.

Yes, UX Designers are heavily in demand across all industries. An Adobe study that canvassed 500 managers and department heads found that 87 percent of managers said hiring more UX Designers was their organization’s top priority, and 73 percent vowed to hire more UX Designers over the next five years. Nearly two-thirds—63 percent—said they had hired five or more UX Designers during the previous year.

There is huge diversity in UX design job titles, partly because UX Designers work across so many different industries—too many to list here. Here are a few of the most common UX Designer job titles you may encounter during a job search:

  • UX Designer

  • User Researcher

  • UX Researcher

  • Usability Tester

  • Information Architect

  • Experience Designer

  • Interaction Designer

  • Information Architect

  • UX Strategist

  • UX Architect

  • UX Product Manager

  • UX Analyst

  • UX Engineer

  • UX Developer

  • Product Designer

  • Visual Designer

  • Content Strategist

 
 

Is UX Design Hard to Learn?

Learning UX design can often be challenging. How difficult you’ll find it to learn UX design, however, often depends on whether you’re transitioning into it from a design background or a development background, or whether you have no experience in either.

As someone with a background in design, you’ll likely find that your knack for elegant aesthetics—and mastery of typography, color, illustration, and imagery—will be highly valued within the UX sphere, but you may find the more technical aspects of UX design foreign. Adding research, testing, and even coding to your skill set may require you to stretch yourself in new directions.

As someone with a background in development, you’re more likely to find that, as you begin learning UX, you won’t have to stray too far from your comfort zone. In fact, the biggest benefit of learning UX might be how organically it extends your existing experience as a Developer. Although UX design spans many more platforms than the trusty browser, web design is, of course, still a massive part of the job; BrainStation’s Digital Skills Survey found that 74 percent of UX Designers who responded are designing for the web.

User experience spans every single interaction that users have with a product, so for someone coming from a programming background, learning how to think like a UX Designer means learning how to look at products with a broader scope. While many Web Developers are likely to have been involved with designing, prototyping, and testing their products, learning the more thorough iterative UX design process can be illuminating.

UX Designers have to juggle a huge number of considerations (visual design, user research, content strategy, usability and accessibility, information architecture, and overall business goals) while also knowing how to effectively steer a project and communicate findings to a broad array of stakeholders. Attaining a comfortable level of expertise may prove more challenging in some of these areas than in others, but rest assured that improvement in any one of them translates into improved performance in the others as well—any Web Developer would benefit from having a more holistic understanding of the products they’re creating and how users are interacting with them.

Job Opportunities In UX Design

Highly qualified project managers are needed in all industries more than ever before.

The global talent gap between employers’ needs for project management professionals and the availability of experts to fill those roles is growing rapidly. Several factors driving this gap include an increase in the number of jobs requiring project management skills, higher attrition rates, and a significant uptick in demand for project talent in developing economies.

According to the Project Management Institute’s Job Growth and Talent Gap report, employers will need to fill 2.2 million new project management-oriented roles annually through the year 2027. In particular, the Indian healthcare sector has experienced the most substantial increase in project-oriented jobs, followed by industries such as manufacturing and construction, information services and publishing, and finance and insurance.

If you are considering starting a career in project management, there has never been a better time to do so. 

Additionally, a project manager’s salary is expected to increase as they advance along their career path. While there is no typical progression of job titles (most advance from Project Manager I to Project Manager II, for instance), there are opportunities for skilled workers to advance from project to program to portfolio management throughout their careers if desired.

According to a report from the Product Management Institute, “Demand over the next 10 years for project managers is growing faster than demand for workers in other occupations.” The report projects that there will be almost 214,000 new project management-related jobs per year in India. 

 

Learn UX Design With Our Meme Based Learning Path 

TechieGen's UX Design Meme-based learning path is intended to help you take the first steps toward a lucrative career in UX Design. The guide provides an in-depth overview of the data skills you should learn, the best data training options, career paths in UX Design, how to become a UX Designer, and more.

 

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