User experience design (UX design) is one of the most sought jobs in 2022. Being a relatively new field, there’s no clear-cut path towards becoming a recognized UX designer. Many professional UX designers originate from unrelated fields and bring transferable skills such as visual design, software development, or digital marketing.
Similarly, a UX designer’s educational background is not immediately obvious. While a degree in graphic design or web design can help, UX design is all about how people think, meaning a background in psychology can be just as helpful to a UX designer as a degree in graphic design.
UX designers use a combination of technical skills and workplace skills in their design work. Some of these skills are specific to the world of UI/UX, while others are more general. Chances are you already have skills that will transfer into a new career in UX design.
Wireframing and Prototyping Skills
A wireframe is a layout of a webpage that shows what interface elements will exist on key pages. UI/UX designers decide which features to display, which to omit, where to position them, and how to present them visually to provide the simplest and the most efficient user experience. You must know how to denote UI elements such as images, CTA buttons, and menus in diagrammatic form. Once the wireframes are approved you’ll work on mockups, which are preliminary models of a product created to test a concept or process. For this, you’ll need to be familiar with popular prototyping tools such as Invision or Marvel. In the final stage, you’ll create a high-fidelity design, which is a final mockup of the product that closely resembles the final product once it is coded and implemented. UI/UX designers are expected to have the ability to produce wireframes and prototypes quickly and effectively.
Visual Design and Design Software
UX designers use visual design software like Figma, Sketch, Photoshop, and Illustrator, to create the visual elements of a product. Besides proficiency in the tools, you should build your knowledge of visual design best practices for things like typography, color theory, layout, icons, and general design theory.
User Research and Usability Testing
As a UX designer, you need to identify your target users and understand their needs and behaviours. You can engage with your users by doing interviews, surveys, and creating focus groups. You need to establish connect with the users and have insight on the user’s pain points. If you conduct the research correctly, the user research will guide you in the right direction for designing the product in a useful, usable and meaningful way. As a part of usability testing, a UX designer also needs to validate the design decisions for a product by testing it with representative users.
Agile software development principles, patterns and practices have quite a few things in common with the UX design process, in that it’s iterative, collaborative, adaptable to change, and thrives on feedback. UX designers need to take customer feedback into account at every stage of the design process. The benefits of Agile development methodology, with its iterative principle, are focused on developing a releasable product at the end of each sprint. In doing so, it leaves the designers to focus on microscopic questions that can feel detached from a cohesive design vision or the “whole picture”.
Whenever we use any website or mobile app, we are faced with an interface that lays down information to us as we need it or look for it. It’s something we are all used to – most users don’t even notice that all the content inside that website has been carefully organized for them. The organization and division of content is known as information Architecture (IA), and it is a crucial aspect of UX design. Without proper sorting, most users would be lost and confused when navigating your website or app – reducing the real value of your product.
Collaboration and Presentation Skills
As a UX designer, you’ll be collaborating with other teams on a regular basis. Depending on the project and phase of development, you might work with leadership to define business goals, UI designers to add visual elements to a mockup or prototype, or developers to translate your designs into code. Strong communications skills help you to get more valuable data from customers when conducting user research and build enthusiasm in stakeholders when presenting your designs.
Stay up to date on the latest UI/UX trends.
As a relatively new field, user experience design (UX design) continues to grow and evolve. Whether you’re getting ready to launch a career or are already well established in the UI/UX design world, it’s important to keep up with industry trends, learn new techniques, and find inspiration for your work. While the internet has loads of resources, we at Weekday recommend certain books that can help you build a foundation in user experience.
1. Universal Principles of Design, By William Lidwell, Jill Butler, and Kritina Holden
2. The Design of Everyday Things, By Don Norman
3. Don't Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, By Steve Krug
4. 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People, By Susan Weinschenk
5. Smashing UX Design, By Jesmond J. Allen and James J. Chudley
You may also subscribe to the UXPodcast podcast, which is a twice-monthly podcast hosted by Per Axbom and James Royal-Lawson, and features compelling conversations with thought leaders both within the realm of user experience and beyond. And it’s not just for UXers but anyone interested in the digital world.
Get started in UX
Take the next step toward a career as a UX designer by enrolling in the Google UX Design Professional Certificate, and you can experience for yourself what UX design is all about.