You may work with them or even be friends with them. But, be honest… Do you actually know what a UX designer does?
There’s a lot of buzz around User Experience (UX) Design. In fact, it’s one of the fastest growing digital careers. However, UX designers are often faced with the same question. What is that you actually do in your day to day?
For novices or even colleagues of UX Designers who’ve always been too shy to ask, here’s a quick guide.
All information that you’ll find in this guide
- Quick recap: What is UX Design?
- What does a UX Designer do
- Responsibilities of a UX Designer
- Does the hard work pay off? / How much does a UX Designer earn?
- How to get started as a UX Designer: online course & self-assessment quiz
Quick recap: What is UX Design?
UX is a fascinating and fast growing career track. Rather than focusing solely on designing great user interfaces (UI), UX design seeks to create the best possible experience across the entire user journey, from the moment a user realizes they have a problem to the last time they get a product serviced, refer it to friends, or discard it. While product designers focus on how products can be designed based on the long and short term needs of the business, UX designers’ main focus is on users.
A few questions UX designers might ask themselves include: What problems are users trying to solve with our product? What are the biggest barriers users face when using our product? How can we make the overall user experience (including awareness, purchasing, usability, referral, servicing, etc.) even better for our users?
If you haven’t yet, check out this article that goes more in-depth: What Is User Experience Design (UX Design)?
An example to show what a UX Designer does
The core of UX design is about getting down to the root of users’ problems and finding innovative solutions. If you think about some of the most well-loved products, UX design is undoubtedly behind their rise to success. But what does this actually mean in practice?
Think about Airbnb. When the platform was created, its founders had to solve one very big problem for two different users. For guests, it was finding a nice, clean apartment or house while traveling. For hosts, it was about finding reliable guests who they could comfortably rent their accommodation to. The problem actually came down to trust. How could they design an experience that would help complete strangers trust each other enough to either stay in someone else’s home or to rent their home out to someone they met on the internet?
Ultimately, the founders came up with two solutions. They decided to develop a ratings system so guests and hosts could rate each other after their stay. This helped to build users’ trust in each other on the platform. But what happens if you’re new to the platform and don’t have any reviews yet?
The second thing they did was design a guest to host messaging portal that prompted guests to share:
- A bit about themselves
- What brings them to the city
- What they love about the listing
The size of the message box was chosen specifically to encourage just the right amount of text (without oversharing). They found that getting guests to share more about themselves, helped to increase host acceptance rates.
As Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia explained during his TEDTalk, ‘How Airbnb designs for trust’: “Design is much more than the look and feel of something, it’s the whole experience.”
What a UX Designer is responsible for
Getting down to the details. Now that we’ve discussed some of the potential outcomes of UX design, what specific activities does a UX designer undertake in their day to day to help them reach such innovative solutions?
Although the work of a UX designer can vary, here are a few of their most common responsibilities:
1. Product and user Research
A major part of UX design involves understanding the psychology behind user behaviors, pains and motivations when using a product. But the only way to get this information is from the users themselves. That’s why research is one of the most important steps in a UX designer’s process. Here are a few methods UX designers use to gain user insights:
- User interviews
- Focus groups
- Competitor analysis
- A/B testing
2. Creating Personas and giving them life by using scenarios
Another method UX designers use to really put themselves into the mindset of their users is by creating personas. User personas are fictional characters that represent different target audience groups. Just like a character in a story, user personas often include such detailed information as their:
- Name, age, gender
For example, Claire is a 30 something recruiter whose interests include Yoga, vegan restaurants and meditation. She would like to have more time for x but her busy schedule keeps her from achieving this goal.
Personas are then brought to life through scenarios. This is a process in which UX designers break down a user’s interactions with a product into key events. This helps a UX designer consider how persona x might react when faced with scenario y.
3. Information Architecture (IA) & user flows
All of this information gives UX designers the insights they need to create a framework for the content and functions of a product or service, otherwise known as an Information Architecture (IA).
This includes thinking through how a user might navigate a product’s interface, and how hierarchies and categorizations should be set up to make the product as intuitive as possible.
4. Creating Wireframes
Once the information architecture is developed, UX designers create wireframes, or low fidelity representations of the different screens. Wireframes and the Information Architecture become part of the blueprints used by design and development teams to build a product.
UX designers also commonly create high fidelity prototypes to further test a product’s usability. While not fully functional, a prototype contains interactive and clickable features that mirror the final product.
6. Product Testing
This allows for user testing, a process during which UX designers actually put the prototype into the hands of a selection of users. This gives designers a chance to see where users might hesitate or get lost when using it.
7. Refining the product on an ongoing basis after it’s launched
But a UX designer’s job is never done. They’re continuously investigating, devising and refining new and innovative ways to help solve users’ problems.
Sounds complex. Is it worth it? (aka. how much does a UX Designer earn?)
As a career track originally created by Apple in 1993, UX design has been widely adopted within the tech industry. Now, organizations across industries from banking to fashion, and even schools, are seeing the benefits this emerging field can bring.
However, this also means that salaries can vary based on different factors including:
- Type of company
- Level of experience
Here are some averages sorted by country and experience level to give you a better idea:
Interested? Take these steps if you want to get started as a UX Designer.
Does it sound like an exciting new career for you but don’t know how to get started?
This structured online course offers live classes taught by experienced UX design professionals. In 12-weeks, the course is designed to take you through the fundamentals of UX design, teach you how to use the latest tools and then apply these skills to real-life case studies. You’ll finish the course with a personal portfolio to showcase your talent and an official Growth Tribe UX design certification.
Feel free to book a personal career consultation here. This is the best way to get all your questions answered in just one call.
If you’re still uncertain, try taking this short online quiz to see if UX design matches your interests and skills.
Last but not least, share this article with people you care about. Who knows? You might end up starting a career in UX design together.