In this article – 9 Skills Essential for UX Designers in 2021 we take a look at getting a head start in UX design. There has never been a better time to get started in user experience design (UX design). Glassdoor, the popular job-search website, listed “UX designer” in their list of the 50 Best Jobs in America for 2021.
Becoming a UX designer can take many forms. Getting hired often depends on demonstrating your specialized skills. Yet what skills do you need to demonstrate?
To find out, we reviewed UX designer job listings on LinkedIn to find the skills most frequently included in job descriptions (as of April 2021). Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Peloton, IBM, Playstation, Tesla, Adobe, and Visa are among the companies hiring for these skills.
How do UX designers develop their skills?
To succeed, we take a look at the skills essential for UX designers need and how user experience designers combine technical skills with workplace skills when designing. The following skills are some of those that are specific to UI/UX, while others are more general. It is likely that you already possess skills you can apply to UX design. See our article that looks at what it takes to become a UX Designer.
Technical skills required of UX designers
1. Prototyping, wireframing, user flows, mock-ups
Conceptualizing what a product will look like is a huge part of the product development process. Depending on the stage of development, you might do this by creating wireframes, low or high-fidelity prototypes, mock-ups, or user flows. Let’s define these terms.
- Wireframe: A visual layout for prioritizing elements of a web page based on user needs, stripped of visual design
- To test and gather feedback, prototypes are samples or simulations of final products. Low-fidelity prototypes are usually sketched on paper and do not allow users to interact with them. Prototypes that are high-fidelity are usually computer-based and allow for mouse and keyboard interaction.
- Mock-up: An artful representation of what a final webpage or application will look like
- User flow: A diagram that maps out each step a user takes when using a product or service
Practice is required for these elements of interaction design. The good news is that you can get started with pen and paper. To become familiar with the components, sketch out wireframes and user flows for an app or site you already use.
UX software is often needed to create prototypes and mock-ups. To get started, consider using a free option, such as Origami Studio. You can typically design some prototypes without a subscription when using paid prototyping tools like InVision, Sketch, or Adobe XD.
As an alternative, practice prototyping with a paper and pen by using this paper prototyping method.
2. Visual design and design software
Both UX designers and UI designers use visual design software, like Figma, Sketch, Photoshop, and Illustrator, to create the visual elements of a product. Additionally, you should develop your knowledge of visual design best practices, such as typography, colour theory, layout, icons, and general design theory.
3. Conducting user research and usability testing
It is imperative to understand who the users are to design products that solve user problems, meet user needs, or generally delight users. That’s where user research comes into play.
It can empower you to make a product even better by conducting the right type of user research. As you develop prototypes, you’ll conduct user testing to validate your design choices. You can become a better designer if you understand how to iterate through these two user-centric phases.
This skill is so critical that some companies have a specialized role on their UX team known as the UX researcher.
As a project management methodology popular in the software development world, Agile is based on an iterative approach to building products. Considering that many product management teams use the agile methodology, it would be logical for UX designers to gain an understanding of it as well.
In fact, agile design and UX have begun overlapping to the point that there is a term for it — agile UX design. It is not necessary to be an expert in every aspect of project management to be a UX designer, but you can enhance your resume by having a basic understanding. Read more in our beginner’s guide to agile development.
5. Information architecture
The purpose of information architecture (IA) is to structure and organize content effectively. When designed well, IA assists users in finding the information they need or completing their tasks. It is up to UX designers to make it simple for users to understand where they are, where they need to go, and what they need to do next.
Start by studying some common website information architecture patterns if you’re new to information architecture. You can also practice creating sitemaps of websites and apps you enjoy, as you did with wireframing. Identify the factors that lead to good information architecture by repeating this process a few times.
6. Application development
You can become a better UX designer by understanding how applications are developed:
- This will give you a more realistic view of what’s possible.
- With better communication and collaboration, you’ll be able to accomplish more.
- If you wish to work for a small start-up company that hires for a wide range of skills, you might be more marketable.
- If you choose to pursue a career in UX engineering or UI development, you’ll have basic coding skills.
UX designer workplace skills
UX designers collaborate regularly with other teams. In addition to working with management to define business goals, UI designers might add visual elements to a mock-up or high-fidelity prototype, or developers might translate your designs into code, depending on how the project is developed.
Incorporating new ideas and incorporating feedback is also part of working as a team.
8. Communication and presentation
It is impossible to have effective communication without collaboration. You’ll need to communicate not only with your team, but also with your clients. When you conduct user research, strong communication skills enable you to gather more valuable data from customers and create enthusiasm for your designs among stakeholders. Good UX often relies on effective visual communication and written communication (UX writing) as well.
9. Prioritization and time management
Businesses often seek UX designers who can prioritize tasks and manage their time well to meet the most important needs first. Over the course of the day, you might work on multiple projects (or parts of the same project). To succeed in the world of UX design, you need to be organized and flexible.
Developing UX skills
Skills essential for UX designers – some of these skills you probably already possess. You may have never acquired others before. Either way, there are several options for developing your UX design skills. It may give you an advantage when applying for jobs when you put your efforts into them.
Consider taking a course to increase skills essential for UX designers.
A UX design course will help you develop your skills in a more structured way. You can learn about multiple skills in general UX courses. There are also courses that target specific skills. You can develop your collaboration and communication skills through group projects.
To start building job-ready UX design skills in less than six months, consider earning your Google UX Design Professional Certificate on Coursera. You don’t need a degree or any prior experience, and you’ll cover skills like wireframing, prototyping, user research, usability testing, and design software.
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Stich Creative, UX/UI Designers