The profession we now call user experience design has emerged relatively recently, one with hard-to-define skills needed to master it. People from various backgrounds work in this field: visual designers, psychologists, developers, architects – basically anyone.
No single well-defined pathway leads to the UX career. This results from the status of UX as an umbrella term comprising various jobs and tasks. This means employers have different needs as well when they look for employees.
We collected the eight most common UX designer skills that can come in handy when planning to enter the industry and to build your UX portfolio.
UX focuses on people. This profession ultimately aims to help them and improve their lives. Therefore it requires empathy. Develop the skill to think about problems from other people’s point of view. For some people this comes instinctively; others need to work more on this. One thing is for sure: You can’t do this job with an egoist mindset.
2) Analytical Skills
This skill can come in especially handy when dealing with data. Empathy and intuition help little when facing the raw numbers of Google Analytics. Data drives product development and marketing to a great extent today, making the ability to set up proper KPIs and to extract information from data invaluable.
3) Visual Skills
Working in the UX field doesn’t require excellent visual skills; however, it certainly brings a huge advantage, especially if you have experience in user interface design. You need to understand the basic typographical rules, visual hierarchy and color theory, as well as the latest design trends and best practices. Don’t think of UX as an artform which leaves space for interpretation. Everything here should be self-explanatory.
4) Communication Skills
This familiar Venn diagram explains the role of UX in relation to other fields.
Not only does it importantly show the multidisciplinary nature of UX, but it also highlights that most of the time the UXer forms the medium between other fields, often with conflicting purposes. Handling this tension requires very strong communication skills. Other communication-heavy tasks like presenting results, facilitating workshops, conducting interviews all also commonly make up parts of the UX work which need preparing for.
5) Coding Skills
6) Project Management Skills
This skill can come in handy in every job, but in UX it plays a special role. The ability to precisely plan and execute a project makes up just the tip of the iceberg. Incorporating the UX workflow with the development process poses the main challenge. That requires awareness of different Agile methodologies. Most development teams work in an “agile” way and UX has to accommodate it to speed up the workflow.
7) Business Skills and Strategic mindset
UX is gaining ever more influence in business and strategy. Companies have started to recognize the relationship between user experience design and business growth, which is shaping the role of UX designer as well. Every company should value a designer who can think holistically and understand business needs as well.
8) Writing Skills
We often say copy forms a part of the interface. Badly written copy on a button, error message or security note can destroy the entire experience. Writing is playing an emerging role in UX, and many companies are hiring people to only do UX writing, which shows its importance. Maybe master writing next?
Should you master all of these UX designer skills?
Not only unicorns succeed in UX. Generalists do not necessarily do well. Recruiters use a term that explains the kind of people UX needs: T-shaped personalities. These people have both wide and deep knowledge. They have mastered one special area or discipline in addition to the ability to work outside of it.
Our friends at UX studio have a cool approach to UX skill competency management: they visually mapped their UX designer skills with a help of colorful competency maps.
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