on 28 January 20
The UX design job market had exploded right now with a huge demand for UX professionals (called UX Designers). With a need for skilled UX practitioners, many are turning to UX design as their next career move, especially since it’s a practice that’s versatile and necessary. UX design applies to a variety of industries, including digital product design.
For example, people often don’t fully understand the difference between UX and UI or that usability and UX are also two different things. In addition, something that’s usable is also not the same as something that’s useful.
So before we move on to starting a career in UX, let’s break down the terms real quickly:
UX design — User experience is all about designing the complete product experience. UX requires an understanding of psychology, sociology and design in order to identify the right user problems. The field also requires tactical skills, such as user research, concept iteration, prototyping and usability testing. Sub-disciplines include interaction design, visual design, UI design, information architecture, and content strategy.
UI design — UI designers create the tangible interfaces that users can see and feel. The field intersects quite a bit with UX design since you must understand the larger experiential context for every interface detail. In small companies, UI designers may own the entire process from defining user flows to refining high-fidelity mockups. In larger companies, they’ll likely specialize more in strategizing the layout of the site or app (sketching, wireframing, etc.).
In short, UI design creates the medium through which users interact for the experience. Of course, the lines between UI and UX designer are usually blurred depending on the company. We dive deeper into a comprehensive approach to UI & UX design in our free e-book, Web UI Best Practices.
The Traits of a Successful UX Designer
Before you start diving into the basics, however, you must honestly assess if UX is a discipline that suits you personally. Everyone has an opinion on what makes the best traits for a UX designer. We’ve even listed a few of our own. Fred Beecher, in a presentation on UX apprenticeship at the 2014 IA Summit, also maintained that UX designers need to have certain traits.
Let’s take a look at the top three traits that make a great UX Designer.
Passion — If UX design just feels like a good career path but you don’t have a serious interest, then it’s definitely not for you. But if you live, breathe and deconstruct experiences wherever you go, then you’ll be passionate about UX design. After all, most UX designers will say that design isn’t a 9-to-5 job, it’s a calling.
Curiosity – In order to solve problems, UX designers need natural curiosity — about people, patterns, and the world around them. Design isn’t black and white, and you must be comfortable wading through the ambiguity of behaviours, culture, and technology. Curiosity helps you unravel the right problems to solve, which is far more important than creating the right solutions.
Empathy — In order to design good products that you might never even use, you must internalise the pains and frustrations of others. UX designers know the user like an old friend. In addition to fighting for users, you must also apply that empathy internally to better collaborate with coworkers and stakeholders.
Self-educating – You have to be constantly learning, whether it’s new design techniques or learning more about user behaviour. This also goes back to curiosity, because you need to learn beyond the daily grind to truly excel in the volatile world of UX design.
Detail oriented — UX design might look simple, but that’s only because there’s far more under the surface. You must be able to complete big picture work (like defining core tasks and scenarios) just as comfortably as assessing how all the micro-interactions add up to create an entire experience.
Receptive to feedback — You’re going to get plenty of unpleasant feedback from users and stakeholders alike. Even though you might feel a sense of parental responsibility to the design, you absolutely cannot fall into the trap of knee-jerk reactions. Remember your job is to also facilitate good design, so there’s no room for ego. We actually discuss tactics for giving and receiving feedback in our e-book Design Collaboration in the Enterprise.
Ultimately, great UX designers have the instincts of a product manager, the mind of a scientist, and the heart of a creator.
Finding a Mentor
While networking is a nice byproduct of a mentor-mentee relationship, the more benefit is learning practical skills faster. Classes and courses provide plenty of knowledge, but at some point you need to speak with someone with mileage.
A potential mentor doesn’t need to live in your area. Use Skype, Google Hangouts, or whatever tool gets you closer to their real-world advice.
While there is power in learning through tutorials, the value of a mentorship is worth every penny you invest. A mentor will involve you in the learning process, unlike tutorials that just show you. They will force you to grow, understand, and accomplish things you wouldn’t do on your own. Learning from others makes you better. It also teaches the teacher
Here are few mentors who have rich experience in User Experience Design and are ready to help you in your career progression.
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