To succeed in today's competitive market, tech companies are moving from product-centric to customer-centric approaches. They listen to users' pain points and design solutions that make customers' lives easier. Therefore, organizations need skilled professionals to conduct user research, analyze gathered information, create wireframes and prototypes, design user interfaces, perform user testing, and monitor customers' satisfaction. And this is where UX/UI designers come into play.
What do UX and UI designers do? What skills do they need to perform their daily duties? And how can you start a career in UX/UI design? We will answer all these questions in today's article.
What is UX/UI Design?
User experience design, or UX design, is the process of defining Problem and finding a solution while creating products that customers can use with ease and delight. It defines a product's functionality, usability, accessibility, and design to enhance a user's experience while interacting with a particular application or service. Simply put, UX design encompasses how a product looks and works to provide users with a straightforward and enjoyable experience.
Since UX design encompasses the entire user journey, it is a multidisciplinary field combining market research, information architecture, interaction design, development, visual design, and psychology.
When we talk about digital products, such as mobile apps, one of the essential components of UX design is user interface (UI) design. It defines how applications look. So, UI design handles fonts, colors, graphic elements, animations, buttons, and menus.
What Is the Role of a UX Designer?
To better understand the role of a UX designer, let us look at the different stages of the design thinking process.
Stage 1: Researching
Design thinking starts with researching what customers actually need and what challenges they face.
Stage 2: Analysis
In the next stage, the UX team transforms the collected data into valuable insights on what is most important for users and what should be the project's primary focus.
Stage 3: Ideation
After users' needs are clear, the UX team thinks about how the company can meet them. The team uses brainstorming, sketching, wireframing, and other techniques to develop multiple solutions for each problem.
Stage 4: Validation
Next, the UX team tests different solutions to determine which works best. This stage involves user testing sessions, gathering feedback, and analyzing data.
It is also important to remember that UX design is iterative. Different phases can repeat or overlap as business needs, customer priorities, or market landscapes change.
Depending on the company's size and the structure of the UX team, a designer might be responsible for a particular phase, like data analysis, or they could be a generalist who oversees the entire process from research to validation. These differences in role structure are why job titles in UX/UI vary and can include:
- UI/UX Designer
- UX Designer
- UI Designer
- UI Product Designer
- Product Designer
- Content Designer
- UX Researcher
- UX Analyst
- UX Writer
- Information Architect
- UX Strategist
To make things even more confusing, professionals with the same job title can have slightly different responsibilities at different companies. So, exploring different job titles is crucial when searching for an opportunity in the UX field. Read all job ads and choose those openings that suit your skills and interests.
UX Designer's Responsibilities
Although the daily duties of UX professionals can vary depending on the company and project, they usually devote their working time to the following tasks and responsibilities:
- Prepare customer surveys and interviews.
- Collaborate with customer support teams to gather user feedback on current products and features.
- Conduct competitor research.
- Analyze data, troubleshoot UX problems, and come up with data-driven solutions.
- Specify user personas, user journeys, and use cases.
- Create wireframes, prototypes, concepts, mockups, and information architecture of a digital product.
- Work closely with product managers, developers, and marketers to determine the best solution for a problem at hand.
- Oversee A/B tests.
- Advocate for customers and promote user-centered design within the company.
- Design UI components and ensure that a product is aesthetically pleasing and easy to use
Professionals with more narrow specializations have smaller areas of responsibility. For example, a UX writer focuses only on creating microcopy that helps users navigate applications, and a UI product designer creates visual elements of digital products.
UX/UI Designer's Job Requirements
As the duties of UX/UI designers vary, so do the requirements for their qualifications. However, if you browse UX openings on major job search websites, you will see that employers most often look for these hard and soft skills:
- Experience planning and conducting user interviews.
- Strong knowledge of UX fundamentals and best practices.
- Understanding of usability principles.
- Proficiency in analyzing quantitative and qualitative data.
- Ability to create wireframes, storyboards, user flows, and process flows.
- Experience with usability testing of prototypes.
- Proficiently with Figma and Adobe Creative Suite.
- Strong visual design skills.
- Ability to follow provided style guide.
- Exceptional communication and presentation skills.
- Strong creative thinking and problem-solving skills.
In addition, candidates for UI/UX designer roles are expected to provide portfolios that describe previously completed projects and demonstrate their UX/UI skills.
Who Can Become a UX Designer?
One of the advantages of UX jobs is that they allow using both creative and technical skills on a daily basis. That is why this field attracts professionals from many different backgrounds. Here are a few examples:
- Graphic designers have many overlapping skills with UX/UI designers. These professionals can utilize their understanding of visual design principles, color palettes, and typography. In addition, proficiency in such tools as Adobe InDesign, Sketch is very valuable in UX/UI roles.
- Web designers can also make a smooth transition into the UX/UI field. Their understanding of the advantages and limitations allows them to specify solutions for developers easily. Their in-depth knowledge of design software helps them create professional mockups and prototypes quickly.
- Former marketing specialists become great UX researchers as they are already familiar with such techniques as customer interviews, surveys, focus group sessions, competitor analysis, or A/B testing.
- After transitioning to the UX field, business analysts utilize their years of experience in data analysis, creating user stories or process maps, and preparing requirement documentation.
- Professionals with a background in customer service make great UX designers. They already know how important it is to listen to users' problems and develop the most effective solutions.
- QA engineers also have many overlapping skills with UX designers. Their ability to ask questions and create use cases, analytical and problem-solving skills, understanding of software development life cycle, and experience with usability testing significantly helps them in UX careers.
- Former project managers bring their ability to coordinate the efforts of multiple teams, communicate ideas, and anticipate risks to the UX design process.
While these jobs transfer well into UX/UI, there is no reason to feel discouraged if your occupation is not on our list. The world of UX is so broad that you will surely have some transferable skills.
How Do I Become a UX Designer?
Regardless of your background, becoming a UX designer might be easier than you think. It all comes down to three steps:
Step 1: Learn UX design fundamentals
To become a UX designer, you must learn the necessary skills: user research, data collection, wireframing, prototyping, UI design basics, etc. You can choose between in-person training programs, online UX bootcamps, or self-studying.
Step 2: Gain experience in UX
More than theoretical knowledge is needed to get a UX design job. You will have to get at least some hands-on experience. It can be an internship at a digital agency, volunteering for a non-profit organization, or doing freelance gigs. The main goal is to test your skills and become confident before applying for long-term positions.
Step 3: Create a portfolio
Next, you have to create a portfolio showcasing your skills and supporting the experience listed in your resume. Your portfolio should also demonstrate who you are as a professional, how you work, and your approach to the UX design process.
Complete these three steps, and you will be ready to start searching for your first UX job.
A career in UX/UI is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to use both creativity and logic, solve problems, help build high-quality products, and frequently communicate with other people. It is a fulfilling and exciting job that earns a strong salary. According to Glassdoor, the top yearly pay for UI/UX designers in the United States is about $150,000. Switching your career to UX design is relatively easy as many skills a UX/UI designer needs are transferable from other professions. Want to start you career in UX design? Apply here!