How to Become a UX Designer

There are many reasons why you would like to get into the world of user experience. UX designers are among the most demanded professionals in the digital field. This is explained by the fact that modern companies want to build useful, attractive, and competitive digital products. 

UX design focuses on the interaction between users and everyday products or services, with the aim of providing a positive user experience. UX design is an extremely diverse field that combines aspects of business, market research, design, and technology. 

In this article, you will learn what a UX designer does, what are the skills necessary to become a high-level UX designer, and the difference between a UX and UI designer.  

First, let’s go over the concept of UX design and what the user experience is.

What is UX design?

Before exploring what a UX designer does, it is important to understand what UX design really is. 

The user experience (UX) design is a process of creating products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. UX design is aimed at improving a product or service including its functionality so to make sure the user is satisfied. This involves designing the entire product acquisition and integration process, including branding, usability, and function aspects. Such a product needs to meet the specific needs of end-users with the least effort needed from the user.

Let’s see a basic example. Apple’s product iPhone is designed not only with product consumption in mind–it considers the entire process of purchasing, owning, and even troubleshooting. This is what UX design is about.

What a good UX design includes

The use of the word “design” next to UX refers to the type of work that is not about graphic design but about using a set of different skills to “design” a new experience. This includes 3 aspects:

  1. Usability is the functionality itself; it allows a product to fulfill the reasons why it was created.
  2. Accessibility refers to how easy it is for the user to understand the product.
  3. Interaction between a user and a product is a way of how the user perceives the product, in both technical and emotional aspects.

Who is a UX designer? 

A UX designer is a professional who looks for ways to improve the product, learn how the user feels about using the product, or how to make using the product easier.

What does a UX designer do? 

A UX designer is an important person in every company developing a digital product. This professional designs an application to meet the needs of the user. In addition, a UX designer builds interfaces and workflows to improve the user experience.

A UX designer needs to be a creative person with an analytical mindset. Such a person should be able to identify and solve the obstacles that might confuse or prevent the user from doing actions on the platform. Last and foremost, a UX designer makes the product more user-friendly and intuitive to attract and retain new consumers. 

Now let’s find out what are the main tasks of a UX designer.

UX-designer responsibilities 

So, here are the main broad tasks of such a professional:

  1. Conduct user research and testing.
  2. Develop prototypes and workflows based on user needs.
  3. Collaborate with designers and developers to create usability-optimized platforms. 

And this is a list of smaller possible tasks of a UX designer:

  • Understand the characteristics of the product 
  • Analyze the user’s paths.
  • Conduct proof of concept, and usability, and collect feedback.
  • Create user person profiles through research and data. 
  • Define the correct interaction model and evaluate its success.
  • Develop schematics and prototypes around customer needs.
  • Find creative ways to solve UX problems (for example, usability and searchability).
  • Communicate design ideas and prototypes to developers.
  • Identify competing products and industry trends.

UX-designer requirements 

Here are some of the common requirements for UX designers: 

  • Proven experience as a UX Designer, UI Designer, or similar role
  • Having a portfolio
  • Familiarity with such tools as Figma or similar
  • Familiarity with interaction design and information architecture.
  • Proficient in software design (eg UXPin, Balsamiq).
  • Knowledge of HTML / CSS, JavaScript is a plus.
  • Ability to solve problems.
  • Excellent communication skills.

Skills to succeed as a UX designer

With such a diverse range of tasks, UX designers must have a necessary skill set. In addition to technical and design skills like wireframing, prototyping, and data interpretation, UX designers also need certain “soft” skills.

While technical skill with the latest tools is important, design thinking and problem solving will be what will set great UX designers apart.

As a UX designer, it’s important that you can collaborate effectively with those around you, from clients, developers, and designers to the end-user. Learning to communicate your ideas and substantively refute the ideas of others will speak volumes about your adaptation, analysis, empathy, and communication skills.

Business knowledge also contributes greatly to the UX design industry. This is why it is important to understand both the business goals and the needs of the target audience and align them when presenting design solutions.

How to learn UX design skills

The best way to get into this field is to learn the basics yourself with online tutorials or by taking an online course. Also, you need to practice a lot to gain the needed skills and create a decent portfolio. 

Let’s consider online courses that can help you with this task.

  1. Designlab UX Academy is an online program that is completely focused on UX design skills. The academy consists of two parts: design theory and three projects for practice. It takes 480 hours (14 weeks) and includes four portfolio projects. Check out the Designlab UX Academy review.  
  2. Coursera offers a lot of courses but the best for learning UX is Google UX Design. This program covers all aspects of UX design like conducting UX research, building prototypes, etc. It is self-paced and lasts for about 6 months. This UX design program includes developing a portfolio. Check out the Coursera review.  
  3. Udacity has a program called Become a UX Designer being a good match for complete beginners. It covers topics like UX fundamentals, design research, and prototyping. It also includes a capstone project where you will be expected to build a portfolio. It would take about 4 months to complete. Read the full Udacity review.

Difference between a UX and UI designer

While some job postings are titled “UX / UI designer”, those occupations have differences. 

The main difference is that a UX designer needs to plan a user’s journey within the application and a UI designer is responsible for how the product’s interfaces look and function. 

A UI designer, also known as an interface designer, is the person capable of creating the interface of a digital product. They need to have skills with programming languages ​​such as HTML, CSS or Javascript. A UI designer’s role is to design the product so to ensure a user’s journey would be smooth and effective.

Different positions within the UX-design

While the role of the UX designer is complex, challenging, and multifaceted, UX design is a truly fascinating and fulfilling career path that could take you in many directions.

If you have knowledge of UX, you might consider these related occupations:

  • Product Designer
  • UX Writer
  • Visual Designer
  • UI / UX Designer
  • Designer of Applications
  • Web Developer
  • Digital Marketer
  • Web Architecture Designer

UX designer levels of expertise

As with a lot of tech positions, there is a gradation based on the years within the field and skills. Here are common ones:

  • Junior UX Designer: less than 2 years of experience; doesn’t know all the processes and standards and usually needs help with technical tasks.
  • Middle UX designer: between 2 to 6 years of experience; can work autonomously with a minimum help of a manager 
  • Senior UX designer: minimum 6 years of experience; able to define processes, methodologies, and standards as well as manage a team of designers.

The terminology you need to know as a UX designer

These are some basic concepts that you should know as a UX designer.

  • A / B Testing: it is a method to validate which two versions of functionality or elements users prefer.
  • Agile: the agile methodology is a technique for software development. It covers different types of methodologies and focuses on keeping code simple, and continuous testing.
  • API: the acronym stands for Application Programming Interface. An API shares information between computers and web applications.
  • Hybrid application: it combines different native elements of a web with the native elements of the applications.
  • Test automation: consists of the use of tools to control the execution of the tests, ensuring the quality of the product.
  • Back End: back end developers are in charge of controlling the main functions of websites, software or IT systems. On the other hand, frontends take care of what you see and interact with.
  • Backlog: it is the list of tasks that must be done by the UX and UI designers. 
  • Version control: develop different parts of software in parallel. 
  • CMS: its acronym stands for Content Management System (content management system). An application that helps in managing digital content.
  • CSS – These are the cascading style sheets used by UX designers. They are described as the HTML elements that are displayed on the screen. The CSS is the style, while the HTML is the structure and the Javascript is the behavior.
  • Cascade development: a process in which each phase must be completed before proceeding to the next.
  • Iterative development: dividing software development into smaller chunks. An iteration, in the context of agile methodology, is a fixed period of time to design a website or any application. (usually between 1 to 4 weeks).
  • Responsive: responsive UX / UI design is what allows a website to adapt to the size of the device the user is using (cell phone, tablet, computer, etc.)

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