What Does a UX Designer Do? (And How to Become One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 7, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The user experience (UX) industry is expanding quickly and is essential to product development. UX design focuses on improving user satisfaction with a product by improving its usability, accessibility, and interaction. Learning about a UX designer's key responsibilities and skills can help you determine what employers look for when hiring new UX designers. In this article, we discuss what a UX designer does, the skills of a successful UX designer, and the steps to secure a job as a UX designer.

What does a UX designer do?

UX designers create the best possible experience for an end-user when they interact with a physical or digital product. The key concern of a UX designer is studying users, understanding their behaviour, and developing a user journey that helps the user complete a task with minimal effort. The daily activities of a UX designer can vary between organizations or even between projects within the same organization. The general functions of the role include:

User research

A significant component of UX design is market, product, and user research. This research is essential to understand users and their needs. It typically focuses on the motivations and needs of customers to help the UX designer identify any potential opportunities within a specific market for product solutions. A UX designer commonly uses data collection, surveys, user interviews, and focus groups as research methods to gather information and insights from the target audience.

Persona development

Another vital phase of the UX design process is the development of user personas. In this phase, a UX designer analyzes the patterns and commonalities from their user research insights to develop representative personas. Every persona displays a potential user's motivation, demographic information, possible responses, and needs. Personas are helpful to an organization's understanding of who might use the product they're developing.

Information architecture

In essence, information architecture (IA) is the structural design of information or content. This discipline involves creating a structure for an app, website, or other product. For example, when developing a website, you can ensure that users know where they are on the site and how to navigate to the other pages. You can create navigation, page hierarchies, and categorizations to achieve this. This means you can create a menu layout to organize the content to appear at the appropriate time and in the correct order.

This blueprint aims to optimize how users encounter, move through, and interact with a product or website to ensure a positive experience. With this information, the UX designer can build wireframes and prototypes.

Wireframing

Wireframes are design sketches that represent the different screens or stages of the user's journey. UX designers create wireframes as one of the first steps to creating the final product. A wireframe can include simple representations of user interaction (UI) elements which act as a guide for further product design and development.

Prototyping

A prototype is a basic representation or version of a product that UX designers typically use during the design process. Prototypes can be low- or high-fidelity, depending on how detailed they are. For instance, a high-fidelity prototype may have a similar look, feel, and capability to the final product. The UX designer can leverage the prototype for user testing and illustrate the product to the development team members. Many prefer an interactive prototype because it can be a crucial component of effective usability testing.

User testing

A UX designer leverages user testing to ensure their product offers a quality user experience and validates the design decisions of new products. These tests involve allowing users to interact with a product's final design prototype to analyze its usability, accessibility, and intuitiveness. There are other testing methods used by UX designers, such as focus groups, moderated user tests, and unmoderated user tests. These different tests can provide valuable feedback on what is and isn't working with the product. User testing is crucial to identify the necessary changes as an organization proceeds with development.

UX designer skills

The following skills can help a UX designer manage relationships effectively and streamline a product's design process:

Project management

It's essential to know how to take a design or project from concept to design and delivery. A UX designer's ability to lead, coordinate, and stay on schedule and within budget can result in an efficient product development process for the entire organization. Project management is also an essential skill for a UX designer because they can maintain the vision of the final product throughout its development.

Related: What Is a Project Management Plan? With Tips and Examples

Team and stakeholder management

UX designers often collaborate with various individuals within an organization, including technology and development teams, graphic designers, senior management, and product managers. As UX designers consider and address client expectations when creating a product or service, it is necessary for them to work closely with a range of individuals both inside and outside an organization. In this way, it proves helpful to have the right soft skills, such as critical thinking. These soft skills create better teamwork and more effective user input integration.

Empathy

A product's user doesn't always use the product the same way as the product designer or developer. An excellent way to understand their needs and how they interact with the product is by listening to user feedback and using it to develop meaningful and valuable solutions. Having empathy for and understanding other people's needs can better equip a UX designer to find the best solutions.

Related: 17 Best Jobs for Empaths (With Salaries and Duties)

Collaboration

It's essential for UX designers to collaborate because they can regularly work with many groups. Taking the initiative, active listening, brainstorming, and including and eliciting opinions from others are all skills that can enable successful teamwork. It's also vital for a UX designer to collaborate with the right people at the right time.

Related: Collaboration Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become a UX designer

The following steps can help you become a UX designer:

1. Learn UX design principles

To become a UX designer, it's essential to learn and develop your technical skills. They are vital to the role, including wireframing and prototyping, user research and strategy, responsive web design, and user interface design. You can take some UX design courses and bootcamps to help build your skills. As many organizations prefer UX designers with demonstratable skills and experience, the immersive, hands-on learning offered by these courses can help make you a desirable candidate.

While learning how to code isn't necessary for the role, it can help to understand the medium you're designing for. It can also help you communicate with the other developers on the team more efficiently and allows you to make basic coding changes without relying on another developer for help.

2. Learn to use key design tools

A UX designer utilizes a wide range of different tools to design the user experience. These include various wireframing tools, such as Sketch, InVision Studio, Illustrator, and Figma. For interface design, a popular option among UX designers is Adobe Photoshop. InVision and Sketch are also preferred choices for prototyping.

3. Build your portfolio

Working on your UX projects can help you practise, refine your skills, and gain experience while generating projects you can add to your portfolio. Creating your projects can also give you the chance to apply your skills throughout every stage of the UX design process. Using the knowledge that you gain during each stage can help you execute these steps in future projects. To strengthen your skills in multiple areas, you can practise developing various projects. Consider projects that use your UX design fundamentals and thinking process, design research strategies, and user research strategies.

4. Network with UX designers

A network of other designers can help you in various ways, including providing you with referrals, connecting you with a company where you want to work, or providing encouragement. Having a network can also build your confidence. As UX design is a field that continually changes and evolves, having a network can help you with aspects that you haven't encountered. Being a part of a community can help you feel that you're progressing and learning.

Related: Why Is Networking Important? (With Benefits and Tips)

5. Search for jobs

When planning your job search, it's essential to have an excellent application to impress your interviewers. Take the time to research how to write a resume to help you stand out. Search various job sites to find and apply for UX designer positions. When you receive a call for an interview, ensure that you're ready and research the company and its approach to design and development. Have your narrative ready when the person conducting the interview asks you about yourself. You can also make yourself stand out by having questions ready to ask them.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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