What Does a UX Designer Do?
How often have you downloaded an app, only to delete it when you found that the interface wasn’t very easy to use? How many apps do you come back to again and again because of the way they reward your usage and keep you engaged? It should be the job of every app, game, website, or digital commercial space to draw in the consumer and keep them there — not through high pressure but by making them enjoy their usage of the app. In a world where so much of our consumer experience is digital, a UX Designer must remember the human element. They design and optimize the experience between users as well as the interactions between users and the business.
A UX Designer’s job is a varied one. They must be part graphic designer, part digital marketer, and part insightful public relations specialist. They tackle all elements of the user’s experience with a particular app or product. In a video game, the UX Designer’s job is to ensure that the user is engaging with the game and consistently coming back to it. When it’s an app, the UX Designer is meant to make sure that the interface is clear and easy to use and that the user remains satisfied with their experience.
A UX Designer might design the filter options on a website’s search function to allow users to zoom in on what they want or they might allow for lighting and skin options on a social media app. They keep an eye on — and impact — how much the user engages with the brand by making the brand more relevant to users. What a UX Designer does relies largely on the company they work for and their needs. A more thorough list of duties that a UX Designer might have includes:
- Research user behavior and competitors to curate the best user experience
- Glean information about user experience from data and user feedback
- Test the product for user friendliness
- Create prototypes and sitemaps for user optimized products (have a look at this free tutorial if you want to learn how to prototype an app with Figma)
- Create profiles, storyboards, and stories of users to figure out how to engage with them
- Explaining research results to clients and discussing their vision with them
- Assist and consult when it comes to content development
- Collaborate with graphic designers, web designers, and data scientists to optimize user experience
- Create surveys to promote user feedback
- Design the aesthetics of a product based on user preferences
- Optimize the navigation of a product, app, or website
- Pointing out design flaws and offering solutions to those issues
How UX Designers Utilize Data
Data is collected from users through their experience with a particular product. It is then analyzed by data scientists and data analysts, who draw up reports that they share with the business’s decision makers to help them find ways to better engage with their audience. This, of course, is exactly within the parameters of what a UX Designer does.
Data provides a summation of user experiences, and data scientists and analysts look for trends and patterns to that data that inform user preferences. UX Designers use the results of that data analysis to customize the product to fit user preferences. For instance, data will tell them which parts of the app users are most likely to engage with or what the common links between users might be. A UX Designer’s job is to boost relationships between users and the business, and data provides the code that allows that bridge to be made. Thus it’s essential that UX Designers work with data scientists and analysts.
Who Is On a UX Design Team?
UX Designer is a position, but it takes a team to truly make for the best user experience. UX Designers often work with data science teams and product owners in order to have a truly thorough view of the user’s experience and how to improve it. But they also work within a specific UX design team, which has a hierarchy all its own, including:
Design or Research Lead
In a left brain type of profession, the UX design or research lead is the right-brained head. This position deals with ideas and abstracts. They oversee the design that goes into optimized user experience as well as the research needed to develop that design. They then delegate tasks to UX Designers and others throughout the team to get the best results. They’ll provide design critique and walk team members through any changes that need to be made before the product is released into the world and as updates are made.
A Product Manager is part of every team that puts the product together, and user experience is no exception. Where a design and research lead deals with the abstract ideas, product managers implement those within the product — or rather, they oversee the implementation. Here again, delegation and supervision is key to this position. This is the left-brain type of position. The product manager works with the design and research leads to take those designs to the others within the team and without in order to make the best product.
UX Designers typically work under the design/research lead. We’ve discussed in points above what a UX Designer does. These take the directions of the design/research lead and begin to actually develop those designs and make them a reality. Their main priority is ensuring that the way the user engages with the product is a positive experience.
A UI Designer is a different type of position, but it does apply to the overall user experience and thus is usually included in the UX team. A UI Designer designs the interface that users use in order to interact with the product. They’re responsible for ensuring that the interface is clean, clear, and easy to use.
Visual designers are essentially graphic designers within the UX team. These designers come up with graphics, color schemes, charts, and the aesthetics and imagery of the site. Aesthetics is a big part of the user experience, with many users leaving simply because they don’t like the look of the app, so this is an important job within the team.
Education and Background For a UX Designer
The job of a UX Designer is an important one and thus it’s not something that just anyone can break into. Anyone who studies the right fields and gains the professional experience needed can, of course, become a UX Designer. However, you’ll need both relevant skills and professional experience in order to do so.
The level of education and professional experience that you need will vary based on how well the two balance each other out. But first let’s break down the main requirements:
This is one position where you often won’t find education requirements on the job description, but recruiters might ask for a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Design or Engineering before they’ll consider hiring you. As stated above, it will also be balanced against your work experience. If you’re able to find work experience as a UX Designer without college, the lack of a degree might be overlooked, although a degree will still give you a competitive edge. An intensive bootcamp in Web Development is another way to learn all the skills required to succeed as an UX Designer in a short period of time.
The position of UX Designer is rarely entry level. Almost everyone requires proven experience in UX design, software development, or UI Design. Your education could also in fact be your proven experience. In either case, it’s a good idea to have a portfolio that showcases your experience. Most companies will ask for at least three years of experience in related fields, while some will ask for as much as five years experience. If you can prove that you know the ins and outs of user experience and software design, you’ll have a good chance of getting the job.
Technical Skills and Tools That UX Designers Need
Once you have the right experience and background, it’s important to know the tools of the trade. Some of these tools are software programs or languages while others are skills in which you must be proficient. Some of the skills that UX Designers need in order to do their job well include:
- Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and other visual design programs
- Troubleshooting skills for HTML or CSS
- Analytics tracking tools such as Google Analytics
- Keynote or Powerpoint presentation skills
- Proficiency with information and interaction architecture and design
- Experience with user-centered design, research, and A/B testing
- GUI development tools
- IT and programming skills
Personality Traits For the Ideal UX Designer
But it goes beyond technical skills. You also want to be sure that you have the right personality to be a UX Designer.** Most of these personality skills can be learned** in the same way that technical skills can, with time and dedication. If you have your heart set on becoming a UX Designer, here are some of the personality traits that you’ll want to hone in order to give you an edge in the job interview and success in your chosen profession:
- Attention to detail and an artistic eye
- Creative problem-solving skills
- Empathy and the ability to understand different types of people
- Organizational and time management skills
- The ability to multitask
- A finger on the pulse of the latest industry trends
- Professionalism and the ability to work with deadlines and budget restraints
- Strong written and verbal communications skills
- A good mind for business and how to market
- The ability to work well within a team
- Experience with and a passion for research
- A desire to keep learning and improving throughout your career
- Ability to follow the requirements of the client
- Excitement and passion for creating the best user experience
How Much Do UX Designers Make?
But it pays off to have all of these skills, whether technical skills or soft interpersonal skills. Like most jobs within software and programming, work as a UX Designer can be quite lucrative. According to Payscale, the average salary for a UX Designer is $74,191 in the United States. However, some salaries for UX Designers can reach over $100,000. You also receive bonuses, sometimes as much as $5,000 and profit sharings of almost $3,500. If you want to advance in your career, you can become a senior UX Designer with an average salary of $103,246 or a lead UX Designer with an even higher average salary: $112,137. You can even advance to becoming a senior product designer.
Companies that typically pay the highest for UX Designers are web or software-based companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. At any of these companies, you can find salaries easily within 6 figures.
How To Become a UX Designer
We’ve laid out the skills, experience, and personality traits that you’ll need to become a UX Designer, as well as what you can expect from your chosen profession. So where do you get started if you want to commit to that? A college degree is helpful, but when you need something for your portfolio as well as a chance to network and hone your skills, you might consider taking courses specific to your industry, like Le Wagon’s Web Development bootcamp.
This coding bootcamp is available in 9 weeks full-time or in 24 weeks part-time if you need to be more flexible. In these Web Development courses, you’ll work on your own projects which you’ll finish by the end of the course. You’ll attend lectures and classes from industry experts. You’ll also be able to network with your peers, which can be invaluable when you start to join the job field or change career.
In this Web Development course, you’ll learn the ins and outs of web development and programming. You’ll gain experience with software architecture as well as relational databases like SQL and ORM, and of course: you'll learn all the required UI and UX skills to become a successful UX Designer. At the end, you’ll have a week to work on lifelong learning, skills that you can take with you long after the course ends.
This Web Development bootcamp offers an intense training experience in the world of coding and programming. They also provide you with the community you need to thrive in the industry.
Ready To Become UX Designer?
Let Le Wagon help you on your path to becoming a UX Designer. Download our syllabus below to discover our Web Development bootcamp and learn more about our alumni and community! And for answers to frequently asked questions, head here.