UX or User Experience Designers are among the most sought after creative professionals the world over. But what is UX Design? What do UX Designers do? And more importantly, how do you start your career in the fascinating world of UX? Read on to find out all about how the career of a UX Designer may look.
The job of a UX Designer is to consider how a person might interact with a product or service and design a solution that they just love! They usually concentrate on digital products such as creating websites, mobile apps or software, but they can sometimes work on physical products too.
There is often a crossover between UX Design and UI Design. In fact, in smaller companies, one person may be employed as a UX/UI Designer. While the two jobs may seem very similar, the main differences are:
- UX designers consider the overall user experience with a product
- UI Designers focus more on the look of a product and how users interact with its interface
A Little Bit of UX History
The Term User Experience Designer is a relatively new one. Although the ancient Greeks and Chinese both incorporated UX design principles when creating objects and interiors. Feng Shui is an excellent example of user-centred design.
Fast forward to the twentieth century, and every company saw the value in getting inside the heads of their customers to create products they would want to buy. Thus companies began to employ people to conduct user research and usability testing to find out what they liked and didn’t like about their products. They used this research to create better products which improved efficiency and made peoples lives better.
Then in 1995, a man called Don Norman acquired a job as a User Experience Architect for Apple. His challenge was to create products that people would instinctively know how to use the moment they pick them up. Not only that, but they would love using them so much that they would become loyal brand advocates.
Don has been so successful in his career that he has earnt the nickname ‘the godfather of UX’. He has written several books, the most well known of which is, ‘The Design of Everyday Things’ – which is often referred to as the UX Designers bible. Don is now one of the founder members of the Nielsen Norman Group – world leaders in research-based user experience. If you are considering a career in this field, their website is well worth a read.
Is UX Design For you?
If you’re the type of person who is always considering how things could be made better, a career in UX could be your ideal choice. UX Designers are inquisitive and love to solve problems. They are continually seeking opportunities for self-improvement, are excellent communicators, have strong design skills and a keen eye for detail.
As with any designer’s jobs, good design skills are a minimum requirement but that doesn’t mean you have to be good at drawing. You should be able to visualise non-existent products and design usability for ease, pleasure and efficiency and communicate this visually.
How to Get Into UX Design
To become a UX Designer, employers usually look for candidates with A levels, followed by a degree in a related subject such as:
- Product Design
- Digital Marketing
- Digital Media and Web Design
- Computer Science
- Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)
Maybe you don’t like the idea of going to university? In which case, you might choose to take an apprenticeship in UX Design.
Or if you are a little further on in life and you don’t have the above qualifications, there are other possible routes in. For example, the UX Design Institute offers a Professional Diploma in UX Design, which you can study online.
You may even be able to sidestep into a career in UX if you have relevant transferable skills from a previous role in Marketing, Product or Visual Design, User Testing or Quality Assurance.
What Hiring Managers Want to See in a UX Designers Portfolio
Whichever path you choose, interviewers will expect to a portfolio which demonstrates your wide range of skills and ability including:
- UX research reports
- User workflows or wire flows
- User stories
- Customer journey maps
- User-testing of the final product
You can build your portfolio by designing web pages or apps based on your interests, volunteering to build websites for apps for others. Alternatively, you could seek out voluntary work or internships within companies.
Other Jobs in User Experience
Smaller firms may only employ one UX Designer who will carry out every aspect of UX. In contrast, larger corporations may hire a team of UX professionals who all work collaboratively. In this case, the company may advertise the following job roles:
- UX Analyst
- User Researcher
- Interaction Designer
- UI (User Interface) Designer
- Experience Designer
- UX Lead
- UX Designer/Engineer
- Information Architect
- UX Consultant
- Product Manager
Where do UX Designers Work?
UX Designers may be employed in-house, by a company or they might work in a design agency. Designers who work in-house will usually focus on one product which they work on from start to finish. Within a design agency, on the other hand, you could end up working on many projects at once. While this may sound overwhelming, it does give you exposure to different clients and products. As a newbie, this is an excellent opportunity to find what you love doing.
UX Designers tend to be office-based. The nature of their role requires them to interact with others regularly, which can make home-working awkward. That said, many UX Designers work using the agile methodology. The agile way of working gives people the freedom to do their job in their own way. That is, providing they deliver what is expected of them on time, within budget and to the expected quality.
What Does A UX Designer’s Typical day Look Like?
Because UX Designers often work in an agile way, every day can be different. But to give you a rough idea, here’s what a typical day might look like for a UX Designer working for an agency.
08.30 Grab a coffee on your way into the office.
08.45 Sit down at your desk, catch up with work colleagues and refresh your memory of what’s on your to-do list.
09.00 Check emails and Slack to get up to date with where collaborators are up to and if there is anything new you should be working on.
09.30 Get to work on necessary tasks to move the project along. Depending on your job role or where you are at in the product lifecycle, this could be conducting user research, ideation, wire-framing or prototyping.
11.00 Daily collaborative meeting with the development team to discuss progress, exchange ideas and agree on next steps.
12.00 Get on with completing any tasks on your to-do list.
13.00 Take lunch in the team break out area.
14.00 Meeting with clients to exchange thoughts on progress so far. Here’s where both sides can raise any things they like or don’t like about the product. They can then brainstorm ideas to overcome any problems and propose new solutions.
15.00 Spend the rest of the afternoon any tasks that will move you towards completing the project.
17.00 Make a new to do list for the following day before leaving the office. It’s good to get into the habit of doing this at the end of every day. This way, the tasks you need to complete are fresh in your mind and you’re less likely to forget important details.
The Career Path of a UX Designer
With no previous experience and the relevant qualifications, it is possible to gain entry into the world of UX as a Junior UX Designer (often also referred to as a Trainee or Graduate position). Within two years, you can expect to call yourself a fully experienced UX Designer. After five years or so, you may aspire to become a Senior UX designer or Head of User Experience.
In 2020, Junior UX Designers in Manchester, UK can expect a starting salary of around £24,000. The average salary with experience can be anything between £36,000 and £45,000.
So, Do you Think UX Might Be a Good Career Choice?
UX Design can be an extremely rewarding career for those with a creative nature and are good at problem solving. If you are interested in a career in UX, why not take a look at list of our current jobs? This will give you a good indication of what employers are really looking for and the type of jobs available.
We hope you found this post useful and it helps you decide on your future career path. If you found this post useful, please share it on social media where others can benefit from it too!