With user experience design becoming more popular and in demand, the need to diversify skills is clear. Here are 10 must have skills for UX designers
No serious UX designer wants to be a jack of all trades, master of none. But there are a number of skills within UX design that will set any budding designer up for success. From using a prototyping tool like Justinmind to understanding the ins and out of behavioral psychology, there’s something for everyone in user experience design. Sometimes it helps to have your fingers in all the pies.
Food analogies aside, UX design is a diverse industry and it’s not uncommon to find people who have specializations in various competencies. This can lead to a little confusion, especially if you’re just getting started out in UX design and don’t know what knowledge you need to be a success.
So, if you’ve asked yourself: what skills do you need to be a good UX designer? Look no further. Here are 10 must-have skills for UX designers, in no particular order.
You need to step up your skills in UX research if you want to be taken seriously as a UX designer. There’s a lot that goes into creating a mobile app or website and many of the decisions UXers make are not just plucked from thin air but are meticulously thought out, studied and researched. From cognitive psychology to computer science there’s always something for the budding UXer to learn and use in their design process.
No man is an island. And it’s the same for UXers. Unless you know how to code, design, manage projects, understand product and marketing, you’re going to need to collaborate with others in the design process, especially if you want to be successful. Research can only take you so far. But collaborating is your opportunity to work in other areas and apply what you’ve learned with different people whose skills complement your own. If you work within a large organization, go ahead and check out our full guide on enterprise UX – it’s got plenty of useful information on collaboration in large teams.
Wireframing and UI prototyping
If you want to convince people of your UX acumen, you need to get used to wireframing and prototyping. App prototyping is a great way to understand key functionality of your design before being built by developers. Justinmind is perfect for iterating those sparks of genius that come to you in the middle of the night and just for getting an idea of the direction your app or website may be going. Using a prototyping tool can be a great way to impact investment, too.
Writing is the unsung hero of UX. People speak highly of coding, which is a skill that shouldn’t be dismissed, but writing is a talent that can be nurtured over less time to create brilliant user experiences. Pick up your phone and look at any of your apps and it will be filled with perfectly crafted words (and lots of microcopy to boot), written by someone. You might never have noticed before but that’s because good UX writing should go unnoticed. Great examples include Apple, MailChimp and Dropbox.
No UX designer will get very far without being fully versed in visual communication. It’s at the heart of UX. Humans are visual animals so brushing up your UI design skills will help you when you need to create assets, icons, presentations, interactive prototypes and mockups.
Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes means understanding their problems. When you understand someone’s problems better, you’re more equipped when it comes to finding a solution to their problem. That’s why empathy is such a vital skill within UX design. When you’re detached from your end users, you fail to design for their needs and feelings which can create a terrible user experience.
It’s one thing to create an aesthetically pleasing design but it’s another thing to understand how users will interact with that design. There’s a lot of crossover between UX and interaction design. Interaction design is more concerned with how a user interacts with a product or service which is why interactive wireframes are a great tool to combine when iterating interactions. If you’re looking for a primer to brush up your skills in interaction design or want to understand just exactly what it is, don’t miss out on these 10 UX courses that can help put you on the right path.
Most UX designers are multidisciplinary and in a world that’s starving for tech designers, Ken Yeung asks whether design-developers are the answer to this need. That’s where coding comes in. The Design in Tech report 2017 notes that one third of designers had engineering training so the lines are blurring between designer and developer anyway – so brushing up on your rusty coding skills might not be a bad idea. Plus no one said you had to be a full stack developer! The free code camp can get you started.
When you create an app or website, you want to test it. You want to know how well your design will perform. Analytics are a great for this. So, understanding numbers, percentages and ratios is a real must when you want to get your head around the performance of your design. Many UXers fear numbers but don’t – they’re there to help you. Applying analytical information to your design can help you iterate better designs, backed up by real numbers.
Having core skills like research or design is really important. So are business skills like project and time management. But aside from visual communication, what can really help a UXers stand out is their communication skills. Think public speaking and presentations. Trying to get buy in from stakeholders about a new design you’ve thought of is difficult at the best of times. But knowing how to present and speak confidently to audiences can really help you avoid communication pitfalls and make a positive impact.