Like many other professionals, a user experience designer possesses a unique set of skills that help them to do their job. To say a UX Designer just needs design skills is like saying that all a writer does is put sentences together. Nothing could be farther from the truth. A writer has to be adept at research, planning, plot development, storytelling, organisational skills, editing skills, and a strong sense of discipline. Likewise, a UX designer needs to have access to a number of very special skills that make them unbeatable in their craft. Here, we list 10 must-have skills for UX designer. Here you go:
Analytics by way of numbers and percentages can reflect the performance of one’s design and hence is extremely crucial for any UX designer. Using analytics can help one create more efficient designs, backed by real numbers.
Imagine a designer who’s creating a mobile app. Now, while doing this, the designer has to undergo a complex decision-making process to take calls about features, layout, usability etc. Such decisions are taken after meticulous and painstaking research and deep study.
A UX designer utilises information from multiple disciplines like cognitive psychology and computer science in their research process. There are two important components to UX Research: user research and user testing. User research consists of identifying target users, formulating user personas and mobilising data in order to make informed design decisions. User testing comprises the creation of wireframes and prototypes, conducting card sorting sessions, performing website heat-maps and conducting user interviews.
Wireframing and user prototyping
As mentioned above, creating wireframes and prototypes is a crucial part of the UX design process. In fact, demonstrating one’s knowledge of wireframing and prototyping is a great way of highlighting UX design acumen.
Prototyping an app helps to understand key functionality of the app before it is actually developed. It gives the designer a concrete understanding of how the app might finally shape up. There are many tools that are effective in the prototyping process. Using such tools can also be a great way to test the assumptions one arrives at after user research, and validate them with user testing. It is also effective in getting approvals from stakeholders/clients.
It is extremely important to test beforehand how an app or website will perform, once it is developed. Analytics are the best way to gauge that, and also to get a better understanding of the design and the user. Also, analytics can go a long way in understanding the relationship between the product and the user.
Visual communication is at the heart of UI/UX design. Every designer needs to be completely conversant in visual communication, if they are to achieve any manner of success in this field. Visual communication encapsulates everything from white space visual hierarchy, to making elements appear clickable, to minimising the need for written instruction.
Science has proved time and again that human beings are fundamentally visual thinkers. 65% of people happen to be visual-oriented learners.
Not quite enough is spoken about UX Writing, which is an extremely critical component of user experience designing. It is a field which can be nurtured over time to create brilliant user experiences.
Microcopy is a wonderful tool for crafting great user experiences. Microcopy are short snippets of text that guide users through an interface. Such text is unobtrusive, but instructive enough to improve a user’s experience manifold. In the same vein, UX writing also influences information architecture, which is a construct that determines the order in which the content is shown to users.
“Man is a social animal”, goes the old adage. It holds true for a UX designer than most other fields. Every designer needs to collaborate with fellow professionals, in order to be able to do their job better. It’s humanly impossible for the individual designer to know all the skills necessary to complete a design job efficiently. Having a spirit of collaboration actually helps the designer to constantly learn from fellow designers.
Designing a great-looking app is only half the job. What’s also important is to understand how users will interact with said design. And that is the preserve of Interaction Design. Interaction Design concerns itself with how a user interacts with a product or service. To get an understanding of how users will interact with a product, one needs to gain insights into their mental models. How would a user prefer to navigate the app, for instance? Would they prefer scrolling or swiping? This can be understood by closely observing how users behave with the product or prototype, or even competing products.
‘Step into your customer’s shoes and walk around in them’, they say. You cannot create a world-class product that people love to buy without deeply empathising with them. And the same holds true for UX Design. Only when you appreciate the user’s problems can you make a design that fulfils their needs. If you don’t have the pulse of the user, you will fail to design for them efficiently. It’s an important superpower for UI/UX Designers to have.
Every design job is a project in itself. And in order to complete the design process in the best way possible, making sure to tick the check boxes, a designer needs to have keen project management skills. It’s important not only to plan and execute the project, but also to incorporate the UX workflow with the development process.
Business skills and a strategic mindset
Last but not the least, a UX designer exists in the business environment, with a strategic angle to it. Increasingly, organisations are being made aware of the direct relation between user experience design and business success. Hence, a UX designer with business and strategic understanding is a huge asset for any client. One can craft the most creative design in the world, but if it doesn’t add value to the business, it’s of no use.
There are many other skill sets that a UI/UX Designer may covet or find useful in their line of work, but the ones listed above are the most significant ones. Any designer with these skills will find themselves indispensable and sought after in the corporate world.