Beginner or Expert, a UX designer is always crucial to the process of ensuring that a product is appealing, usable and meets the need of a company’s main audience.
User experience or UX as it is popularly called, has been increasingly gaining a lot of attention in recent times. Many firms have come to understand that it is at the core of product development. Nonetheless, its relevance is still somewhat unclear to a good number of business owners.
UX design aims to increase users’ satisfaction with a product or service by improving interaction, accessibility, and usability. It helps to examine human-computer interaction in a bid to make the experience of users better.
Therefore UX designers are tasked with helping customers solve their main needs while making them happy in the process. Achieving this goal helps to grow a business as the satisfied end users are likely to make future investments.
Here is what Don Norman, the creator of “User Experience” stated, “No product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all of the stages of a product or service – from initial intentions through final reflections, from the first usage to help, service, and maintenance. Make them all work together seamlessly.”
What are the roles of a UX designer?
The activities of a UX designer is usually in stages. It usually starts with the research stage, then, the design stage, and then, the testing phase. The implementation stage is usually the last stage of a designer’s activities. Below is a breakdown of the roles.
The Research Stage
Here, as a UX designer, you will need to interact physically with end-users who are also the product’s target market. The interaction process will help you avoid wrong assumptions so, you can eventually come up with informed decisions. You will have to interrogate people on how they feel when using the web page you plan to improve. You will need to get insights on whether the users can easily interact with the interface or not, among other inquiries.
At this stage, you get to use data collection methods such as focus group discussions, surveys, questionnaires, and so on. Then, you will analyze the data gathered and convert them into useful information.
However, if the product is still new without previous editions, your task at this stage will include engaging proposed end-users in conversations about related products. This will help you understand the things you would have omitted.
The Design Stage
Your activities as a UX designer at this stage will include brainstorming on how the product you are about to design will suit the behaviour of its target market. You must understand that the usability and functions are given priority over appearance. Hence, you will have to create your design to focus on the aforementioned qualities.
The Testing Stage
This is where you get to check whether the product you have designed measures up with the original plan or intentions. The testing stage helps to solve any early user difficulties which did not appear in the design stage.
The implementation Stage
This is usually the stage that completes the circle of your tasks as a UX designer. You will have to work collaboratively with web developers to roll out the product to the target market or end-users as the case may be. However, to avoid unnecessary delays at this point, you must have been collaborating with the developers, right from the research stage.
Although you will be tasked with managing the stages mentioned above, some organizations try to distribute the roles for different designers to ensure that each stage is properly managed.
What are the important skills you need as a UX designer?
Just as applies to other careers, you need some basic and technical skills when pursuing a career as a UX designer. I have discussed these skills in two broad categories. The first category is Applied skills, while the second is the Soft Skills.
Important Applied Skills for UX Designers.
Skills in this category include:
Research: You must have been able to understand your audience and what they want by conducting comprehensive interactions, getting into extensive conversations with them, and drawing meaningful conclusions from all information you must have gathered.
Wireframing: Wireframe is a term that is used to describe the blueprint of an entire interface. That is, it explains how the entire processes of a product will work, from one page to the other. Hence, UX designers are no novice to wireframing. You need the skill.
Prototyping: Another important applied skill for every UX designer is prototyping. Prototyping involves testing the functions of a product to be sure that it correlates with the original idea behind its creation. You may have to go through this process over and over again before arriving at your intended goals. UX designers need to master the prototyping process to be as fast as possible.
Visual competence: While the primary purpose of a UX design is not aesthetics, You nevertheless need to be skilled in visuals to have a competitive edge in the field. UX designers need to approach areas such as Color of the design, Layout, Icons, Images, Typography with a graphic mindset.
Information Architecture: This skill is associated with being able to organize information in a way that others can easily understand and interpret. As a UX designer, whatever information you are pushing out to the web developers, for instance, must be well arranged and logical to avoid misinterpretation.
Important soft skills for UX Designers
This second category may not be technical, yet, incorporating them into your career will help in getting your activities completed in the best way possible. Here are some crucial soft skills every UX designer needs.
- Communication Skills: Helps to have positive interactions with end-users, web developers, among others.
- Curiosity: Assists in getting through to the minds of the target market.
- Collaboration: As a UX designer, there is always the need to work within a group of other web development experts. Through meaningful collaborations, you will be able to explore solutions and incorporate ideas that help a product achieve its goal.
- Empathy: This skill is very important. Your ability to understand how the audience truly feels will go a long way in helping you proffer the exact solution that they seek.
Job Outlook for UX Designer
Ten years from now, the demand for UX designers would have increased significantly as more organizations are beginning to understand their value for businesses as well as customers.
Generally, your capabilities will determine the place you can work as a UX designer. For instance, if you find interest in engaging in all the stages of activities, you will most likely thrive in an organization that has just kicked off operations. Meanwhile, if your interest is in just one or at most, two of the stages, you will be best suited for a role in a bigger organization where you can work alongside other UX designers on projects.
Equally, if your interest lies in the overall coordination of a UX design project, you should aim at Managerial roles in the field. However, it takes capability and years of experience to nail such roles.
How is a UX designer different from a UI designer?
UX, as I have explained above, is an abbreviation for User Experience, while UI, on the other hand, stands for User Interface. While the two aspects are key in the process of designing a product, and as a matter of fact, one cannot exist without the other.
However, a User Interface designer’s role is largely different from that of a User Experience Designer in the process of creating a product.
While a UX designer pays attention to the flow of the project as well as how users will interact with the product, a UI designer is tasked with creating the actual design as described by a UX designer.
UI designers are more like architects who go through a brief and then proceed to create appealing and useful interfaces. Another way to explain the difference between a UI and UX designer the fact that UI is closely related to graphics design while UX is more technical and extends beyond visuals.
In all, the two designers need to collaborate at different points. They ensure that the interface of the final product is fascinating, as much as it is useful.
A good example of collaboration is the situation where a UX designer is creating some buttons that will help users in navigating the pages of an application, while the UI designer is designing the shape and colour of such buttons.
In the words of Rahul Varshney, the co-founder of foster.fm, “User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) are some of the most confused and misused terms in our field. A UI without UX is like a painter slapping paint onto canvas without thought; while UX without UI is like the frame of a sculpture with no paper mache on it. A great product experience starts with UX followed by UI. Both are essential for the product’s success.”
How is a UX design different from a Web design?
Here are some things you should note about web design.
- Places attention on visual elements of a website.
- Puts content on in the interface to make it appealing.
- Does not necessarily employ a human-centered approach.
- Blends the interface with a brand’s colours and fonts styles.
- It focuses mainly on technology and its provisions.
- Ensures only compelling visuals.
Meanwhile, the basic features of UX design include:
- Focusing on users/ target market
- Seeking to deeply understand what and how a user feels about a product.
- Examining their needs, emotions, habits, and expectations.
- Conducting surveys and tests.
- Brainstorming concepts steadily
- Creating scenarios and audits
- Constructing the Information Architecture
What careers are related to UX design?
Careers with activities are related to the core of a UX designer’s role include:
Graphic Designer: A graphic designer is a creative expert with an interest in communicating ideas through images and text.
Front-End Developer: Experts in this field assist UX designers in implementing the User Interface of a product, among many other roles. They also collaborate to work on wireframes created by UX designers.
Product Managers: These experts are in charge of coordinating product activities such as feedbacks, functionality, updates, bug fixes, among others.
Other careers that are related to UX design are Marketing, Customer Service, content development and so on.
You can also read this: How to become a copywriter
How much do UX designers Earn?
As I already pointed out, your salary as a UX designer mostly depends on your years of experience. According to Payscale, entry-level designers earn $50,000 annually while experienced designers make up to $107,000 within the same period. This implies that the average income for UX designers is about $74,000.
Popular UX Designers
Thousands of UX designers are already helping to channel web solutions towards the user-centred approach as organizations continue to understand that its target market should be at the centre of web products. However, here are five prominent individuals who have made their marks in the field and are still a source of inspiration to aspiring UX designers.
Luke Wroblewski: With over two hundred thousand followers on Twitter, Luke’s UX design nuggets seem to have captured the attention of many in the field. He selflessly shares nuggets that teach how to improve at creating UX designs. His influence in the field also stems from the fact that he is a Product Director at Google. An then, he has also published books on web design.
Whitney Hess: Whitney is a UX coach who freely teaches how to humanize technology as well as the best ways to interact with computers. She shares regular guides on design through her social media handle.
Jessica Robbins: Jessica is a UX director at a Public Relations Firm in Oklahoma. She also shares memos on UX, regularly on her page and also selflessly enlightens her followers on design wisdom.
Career Paths for aspiring UX designers
Being a relatively new field, it is very normal to be worried about how exactly you can kickstart your career in UX design. But here is what you should understand, there are two main career paths to choose from. First is by enrolling for professional courses online. While the second path is enrolling for an academic program, either in the field or in related fields such as Computer Science, and Computer Engineering.
These universities below provide UX design courses at Undergraduate or Post Graduate levels.
- University of Queensland, Australia – Bachelor of Multimedia Design
- The University of Tasmania, Australia – Bachelor of Computing (Human Interface Technology (HIT) Major)
- Simon Fraser University, Canada, Bachelor of Arts (Interactive Arts and Technology)
- Simon Fraser University, Canada, Masters of Arts (Interactive Arts and Technology)
- Magdeburg Industrial Design Institute, Germany – Bachelor / Masters of Industrial/ Interaction Design.