Are you looking for an exciting new career field that utilizes your unique talents? You may want to dive into the thrilling world of UX design. What is UX design, you might ask? Well, UX design is a brand-new field that combines elements from business, tech, psychology, market research, and design. Many people still are not familiar with UX design since it is still relatively new. Luckily, we are here to help. We will break down UX design and discuss some of the day-to-day expectations for up-and-coming UX designers
What Exactly Is UX Design?
Before we jump into what a UX designer does, it is crucial to understand UX design and its components. The UX in UX design stands for user experience. Nearly every product, application, and website today have a user experience that can increase or decrease consumers’ experience while using a product, application, or website. If a product is easy and fun to use, the user experience will generally be higher than confusing and hard to digest. For example, a website with UX incorporated into its design should be easy to navigate and fulfill the users’ needs. . It is up to a UX designer to make a product, application, or website’s user experience as consumer-friendly as possible to ensure the consumer has the best possible experience.
A positive user experience comprises three elements: usability, desirability, and usefulness. It is up to a UX designer to incorporate these factors into a product’s user experience to boost consumers’ enjoyment and clarity while using the product. Since almost everything in the modern world consists of user experience in some form or another, UX designers can have a background in nearly any field. It is an incredibly nuanced career field that utilizes various elements from multiple professions, creating something new and exciting as we progress into the modern era.
Although UX design is a relatively new career field, its principles can trace back to ancient times. The Chinese practice of feng shui dates back to 4,000 BC and has a few trace UX design elements. It teaches practitioners to examine their living situations and workspaces to create a unique, user-friendly environment that exhibits a balance with the natural world. Despite its simplicity, many people believe feng shui practitioners were some of the earliest examples of UX designers.
Although feng shui is considered the godfather of modern UX design, the term didn’t arise until a cognitive psychologist and designer named Don Norman coined the term in the early 1990s. Norman thought the user experience goes beyond the experience people have with products, websites, and applications. He believes user experience transients products and affects nearly everything we contact, causing user experiences to shape aspects of our daily lives.
What Does a UX Designer Actually Do?
UX designers create fun and simple user experiences by making products as enjoyable, desirable, and beneficial as possible. They tend to focus on information architecture, product research, wireframing, product testing, prototyping, and visual hierarchy to create sublime user experiences for consumers.
How Does a UX Designer Start the Design Process?
As stated before, UX designers usually concentrate on these elements during the design process:
- Product research
- Information architecture
- User testing
Many UX designers must create a positive user experience from the consumers’ point of view. It is vital to understand your audience to create a user experience that meshes with them positively. However, not all consumer bases enjoy the same things. This turning point is where product and UX research comes in. Many UX designers conduct online surveys and interviews with consumers and stakeholders to figure out the best user experience for a specific product, application, or website.
Once a UX designer understands their audience’s wants and needs, they will create personas meant to mirror a user’s daily life. This process helps the UX designer understand how a specific person might use a product and how it affects their daily routine. The personas will go through all types of realistic scenarios to help the UX designer better understand the consumer, improve the product to their liking, and increase the functionality of the said product.
After the UX designer understands what their product’s audience is looking for, they focus on the information architecture (IA). This IA typically describes the organization and structure of a product’s layout and how easy it is for a consumer to navigate. It is up to the UX designers to make sure a product’s information architecture is organized, welcoming, and functions properly. Failure to do so can frustrate the audience, turning them off to the product for the unforeseeable future.
Wireframing and User Flows
Before a UX designer begins the wireframing stage, they must create a chart that lays out the consumer’s path while using the product. This step is usually called a user flow. Think of it as a map that describes every action the user takes while experiencing the product, app, or website. It shows where they began, where they jumped to next, and where they ended up while traversing the product.
Once a UX designer constructs an adequate user flow, they will create a wireframe. The wireframe is a rough draft version of a product, app, or website. It consists of a fundamental interface that portrays the most important aspects of a product in a rudimentary way.
Prototypes are intermediate versions of a product that builds upon the basic wireframe structure. They are more advanced than wireframes but still lack the elegance of the finished product. Many UX designers want to create interactive prototypes since they can go through strenuous usability testing before launch. Interactive prototypes are also great for user testing, allowing the UX designer to see the consumer’s response to a product and how they interact with it.
User testing is one of the most crucial steps in creating a consumer-friendly user experience. Not only does it allow UX designers to see a consumer’s reaction to the product, but it also is a valuable source of feedback. Consumers can give their opinions on a product and inform UX designers how to improve it before launch. There are many ways to conduct user testing, ranging from setting up a free demo of a product in a public space to performing phone interviews to get feedback for a new app on their smartphone. The user testing options are limitless and one of the best ways to improve the user experience.
What Skills Does a Good UX Designer Have?
Good UX designers have a wide range of skills that highlight their areas of expertise. Some companies require their UX designers to perform all the steps listed above. In contrast, others break them into specific groups like an information architecture team or a crew of product research specialists. Having a solid background in at least one of the main six elements can give you a leg up in the UX design industry.
Having experience in graphic design and visual design can also be beneficial when attempting to break out in the UX design field. Working in UX requires a vast amount of creativity, giving visual and graphic designers a bit of a head start when creating a user experience design. However, a UX designer’s role also requires diligent research and countless hours of usability testing. Having well-rounded design, research, and communication skills will significantly enhance your chances of becoming a successful UX designer.
Is There a Demand for UX Designers?
Since user experiences play a vital role in nearly every aspect of modern life, now is the perfect time to get into UX design. More and more companies are looking for experienced UX designers to increase their products’ user experience. Everything from coffee machines to alarm clocks has user experiences that make it easier for consumer interaction. With technology drastically advancing every year, the demand for UX designers will likely continue to grow. There is no better time to start your new UX design career.
Can I Teach Myself UX Design?
You may be asking yourself, “How do I get into the UX industry if I do not have sufficient or any UX experience whatsoever?” Luckily, there are many ways to sharpen your UX design skills, even if you do not have prior experience. The internet makes it easier than ever to learn UX design without spending money on expensive classes or design programs. Countless free online programs will fill you with the knowledge you need to become the next successful UX designer.
Below are a few free UX design courses that will take your user experience skills to incredible new heights:
A simple five-week course that teaches the basics of UX Design. Users will receive a certificate upon completing the introductory program
A 12-hour program that centers around the basic principles of user experience design
An ongoing web series from leading UX experts that gives users a glimpse inside the industry
An online course that gives an in-depth analysis of UX design while teaching the fundamental skills needed for success
An extensive list of excellent UX resources that can help novice UX designers break into the industry.
If you are more of a visual learner, dozens of great YouTube channels can help you get started in the UX design field. They are great for any skill level and can teach you all the ins and outs of the industry. Many even share valuable insight on how to get established in the competitive world of UX design. We recommend AJ&Smart’s Youtube channel for anyone looking to get their foot in the door while improving their UX design skills.
How Do I Start My UX Design Career?
Once you develop the fundamental UX design skills and understand the expectations, it is time to take the first step in your new career. Before entering the professional UX designer sphere, it is essential to have an impressive portfolio that highlights your specific skills and abilities. Try to be as authentic with your work as possible and stay away from generic design templates. Once you have multiple pristine examples of your work, you can start searching for UX design jobs that utilize your specific skills.
UX design jobs vary since the career path requires a wide range of skill sets. Some aspiring UX designers may want to specialize in a specific field, while others might desire a more flexible workload. The good news is the demand for UX designers has not been higher, making it easier to find the perfect job that fits your specific wants and needs. As a matter of fact, 87% of hiring managers say finding adequate UX designers is a top priority, and it does not look like the demand is slowing down any time soon.
Not only are UX designers in high demand, but they also receive a hefty salary of more than $89,000 on average. This number is more than double the average wage of the typical graphic designer ($37,000). Better yet, most UX design positions do not require a formal degree, allowing you to enter the industry without an expensive diploma or university certification. It is more important to have experience and exhibit a firm understanding of the craft than to have a higher degree of education.
Where Can I Find UX Designer Jobs?
You may be surprised by some of the companies looking for UX designers. Since user experiences are a pivotal part of modern life, companies are always looking for skilled UX designers to take their products, apps, and websites to the next level. You may want to check some online job search sites like Indeed and Glassdoor to find design work in your area. Sometimes you can just visit a company’s website to find out if they need UX designers. With the demand for UX designers growing by the day, it should not be too difficult to find an entry-level position after you have built up a decent, impressive portfolio. It just takes a bit of willpower and determination to find the UX design job that fits your specific skill set.
Do I Need a Degree to Enter the UX Design Field?
No. A lot of UX designers teach themselves or enroll in online courses to sharpen their skills. However, most employers do not require a specific degree for aspiring UX designers, but an authentic certification from an online class may help your chances of employment.
Is UX Design a Good Career?
Yes. Most professional UX designers make a decent salary of around $89,000 on average. Professionals agree that UX designers have a better work-life balance than most other career fields.
What Is the Difference Between a UX Designer and a UI Designer?
A UX designer focuses on the user experience, while a UI Designer creates the user interface design. The goal of a UX designer is to make a product’s user experience enjoyable, desirable, and valuable, and most UI designers try to make the user interface as user-friendly as possible. Both fields are similar but focus on different things.
Does Having a Background in Graphic Design Help When Applying for a UX Designer Position?
Having experience in the graphic design field is always a plus when applying for a UX designer position. However, it is not necessary and does not always guarantee you will get the job. It is more important to exhibit the essential UX design skills than have experience in a similar field.
There is no better time to start your exciting new career as a UX designer than now. More companies are looking for reliable UX designers than ever before. Do not wait any longer! Start sharpening your user experience skills and enter the electrifying world of UX design today!