As one of the fastest growing and in-demand professions, it’s no wonder so many people are looking to switch to a career in UX.
So, what does it take? Well, the good news is that a career in UX is not only highly sought after and hugely desirable, there’s also a ton of learning resources out there to get you started.
But before we get into what types of skills you’ll need to launch your shiny new UX career, let’s have a quick recap on what exactly UX is.
UX stands for User Experience. When we talk about UX design, we’re talking specifically about how a user interacts with digital products and services like apps or websites.
Think about Apple. Whether you’re a fan or not, if you were to fire up their website and view the latest iPhone model or computer, you’ll quickly appreciate just how well crafted their user experience is.
Brands like Apple understand the fundamentals of what, where, and how to present their products to glorious standards and are pioneers for the industry.
If you’ve spent a bit of time crawling the internet looking for info on UX then you’ve no doubt stumbled upon another term that crops up. UI or user interface.
The two are commonly confused, they are strikingly similar after all, but serve very different functions.
UI is all about the presentation whereas UX is about the actual experience of using it. So if UI was how something looked, UX determines how something feels. The experience.
Both play a major role in determining user success and therefore, the product or service on offer.
Unlocking the skill tree
Now that we all agree on what UX is, let’s talk about some of the skills you’ll need to pivot professions.
Some you may have acquired in your current profession while others are centred around personal qualities that will ultimately help you get a foot in the door: Technical skills
1. Research and Data Interpretation
You just adore digging in to what makes a person tick! It could be said (actually it is) that a product’s success comes down to how a person interacts with, and responds to it.
By conducting market research and interpreting the data, it allows us to understand our users’ needs. And once we know that need, we can start to shape an experience that caters directly to it.
Many jobs incorporate some form of research. Whether it’s staying up-to-date with industry knowledge or administrative jobs that handle large quantities of data; research is a passive exercise found pretty much everywhere.
Check out Nielsen Norman Group’s deep-dive into UX data analysis and what it entails here.
2. UI (User Interface) Design
There it is again! We told you it crops up a lot.
Having a little knowledge about visual elements will go a long way in your UX career.
Layouts, animations, graphics and typography are all important in the overall design and having a sense of how these elements inform the user experience is no bad thing.
A keen eye for design and a flair for the creative is a must-have. If you know your way around a camera, a canvas or just dabble in attractive mood boards on Pinterest, visual design skills are easily transferrable to UX design.
CloudApp give a breakdown for all of the basics in UI design in their blog. Find it here, or watch their video below.
3. Responsive Web Design
This one’s all about how a design is displayed on different screens or devices.
Nobody likes slow, unresponsive websites. It diminishes any anticipation the user has built and in most cases will completely put off a potential buyer.
With as much as half of all traffic being generated through mobile devices, this is a biggie for performance and usability.
See Kinsta’s guide on responsive web design here.
Industry tools such as Figma, InVision and Sketch help designers realise their vision. UX designers need to know how best to navigate the flow of information and use wireframes to show display them.
You may already have experience using software like Figma, Adobe, InVision or similar creative suites that can be applied to UX design too.
But if you’re not quite there yet don’t worry — you can grab a pen and pad and start practicing data flow charts right away! We won’t stop you.
For more on Figma (our personal choice) check out Bootcamps’s 10 reasons why Figma is a firm favourite among UX designers.
Don’t know this stuff yet?
Not a problem. We all start somewhere and like any career switch there’s going to be bits you know and some stuff you’re yet to pick up.
With that in mind, let’s look at some soft skills that will provide an excellent launch point on your journey to becoming a fully fledged UX designer.
Often the most overlooked of all soft skills, communication is a fundamental quality that makes life easier for everybody on the team.
If you’re a great conveyer of ideas and are confident presenting concepts, scheduling work and accepting feedback then you’re miles ahead of the pack already.
As a UX designer you’ll likely be part of a multifaceted workforce. So one moment you might need to speak to the project manager, the next a graphic designer and later that day, a video call with a stakeholder.
Everybody loves a team-mate that keeps them in the loop.
This is the mundane part of a CV that reads,“works well as part of team”. Ugh.
But on a serious note. Collaborating with other members of the team is a given so the better you are at it, the more success you’ll have with larger departments.
Collaboration is really about actively listening to colleagues for insights and participating in a way that’s constructive and useful.
If you’re the type of person who’s happy to share ideas and concept the next big thing you’ll not only work well with others, they’ll get excited when you’re involved.
3. Emotional Intelligence
This links in to user engagement. How a customer is likely to feel at any given stage in their buying journey.
When we can empathise with our customers we in turn become more accurate when presenting a solution to their problem.
So if you can diffuse conflicts in your personal life and have a firm grasp of your emotions, slow to overwhelm, then you’re in perfect stead for UX design.
4. Self Management
The arbitrary cousin to “works well in a team” is this one — “works well individually”. We’ve got chills just typing it.
What we’re referring to here though is the ability to plan, coordinate and execute a project from start to finish.
As a UX designer you’re imperative to a product’s development process. So being able to interpret a brief and navigate your way from idea to inception is a boast worthy talent.
Where to go from here?
A lot of the skills listed above are ones a lot of us share. And we’re usually practicing them in our daily lives whether at work or at home.
If you find yourself in a career that touches on some of these technical and soft skills then you’re already half way there.
For more on UX design or if you’re interested in speaking to one of our experts (they’re really, really friendly, we promise) then hit us up here for more info.
We can’t wait to see what you do next!