User Experience (UX) is still one of the fastest-growing industries in 2022. With an average salary that is crossing the 6 figures mark, UX professionals are beginning to see the same demand as software developers.
Companies are also beginning to realize the value that UX designers add to improving their brands and products.
According to an Adobe report, more than 80% of recruiting managers prioritize UX professionals for hire over other tech positions such as graphic designers and product managers.
This high demand for UX professionals comes with certain expectations required to create a customer-oriented experience.
In this blog post, you will read about 8 highly sought-after skills that UX designers must possess. See also, The UX design agencies San Francisco.
8 Qualities that are must in a UX design process
A UX designer creates products and services that provide a meaningful experience for the users.
The UX design process involves branding, designing, and ensuring the usability and functionality of a product or service. This process involves:
- Conducting user research
- Interpreting data and feedback
- Creating user stories and storyboards
- Developing prototypes and wireframes
- Collaborating with designers and developers
- Communicating ideas and prototypes to developers
- Conducting usability testing
UX designers need to have a certain set of skills to perform these tasks efficiently.
The following list includes a mix of essential hard skills and soft skills that are highly demanded in a UX design process.
Hard skills for UX designers
Hard skills are specific technical knowledge. Unlike soft skills, they are job-centric and are usually measured by performance. The following are 4 mandatory hard skills for UX designers.
1. UX research
Discovering user needs is one of the most important tasks of a UX designer. Thorough research can be the differentiating factor between a great and a poor user experience.
UX research involves identifying the target audience, how well an app or an interface is received, and how to improve it. This is done through testing, interviewing, taking surveys, creating questionnaires, and focus groups.
Therefore, you need strong research and analysis skills. UX research coupled with your analysis of your findings plays an important role in figuring out what users need and building that all-important empathy.
2. Wireframing, prototyping, user flows, and mockups
A crucial part of any design process is visualizing what a product will look like and how it will function.
Wireframing, prototyping, user flows, and mockups are some ways to envision your end product, depending on the stage of its development. These are core skills of a UX professional and it is unlikely that you will come across a UX job that doesn’t require distinction in these areas.
- Wireframe: A visual guide or blueprint of a web page that represents the structural framework of a website.
- Prototype: A simulation of the final product used for testing and gathering feedback. It ranges from low-fidelity hand-drawn models to high-fidelity digital mockups.
- Mockup: A static design of a final webpage or application that features many of its design elements but is not functional.
- User flow: A diagram that represents a user’s journey through a specific task.
These interactive visualization techniques are important because you will be able to resolve any design problem and make adjustments or improvements to the product.
To create these visual guides, you must be an expert in using certain UX software like Sketch, InVision, Balsamiq, Marvel, and Adobe XD.
3. Visual communication and UI design
A UX designer will not get very far unless they master visual communication. This may cover everything from white space visual hierarchy to making element mockups.
As UI designers, UX designers also use visual design software like Figma, Photoshop, and Illustrator, to create the visual elements of a product.
Though companies do not expect you to be an expert in these tools, having intermediary knowledge of design software is highly demanded.
The majority of the population are visual learners and are more likely to be impacted by visual cues than auditory ones. Therefore, you need to hone your UI design skills to be able to develop interactive prototypes and mockups.
Additionally, you need to be aware of visual design best practices for things like color theory, typography, layout, and icons.
4. Information Architecture (IA)
How a website or an app design is laid out can determine whether the user experience is good or bad.
That’s why IA becomes one of the most important skills for UX designers. IA involves laying out screens or pages so that users can easily find the information they need.
A UX designer who is well versed in IA can facilitate this by making it easy for users to navigate through a website or an app effortlessly and quickly.
In other words, a UX designer is responsible for creating an experience that allows users to focus on their tasks, not on finding their way around.
As an IA/UX expert, you need to be proficient in:
- Content inventory, content grouping, and content audit
- Classifying and labeling items in the content inventory
- Creating navigation or hierarchy
Soft skills for UX designers
Soft skills are social and interpersonal skills. In addition to technical skills, UX designers need solid soft skills to work well in a team environment. The following are some of the most important soft skills for a UX designer.
Good UX depends on effective visual communication, written communication (UX writing), and verbal communication.
As a UX designer, you should be able to present your product ideas to stakeholders and clients, explain the thought process behind designs, and work with other teams. You will also be required to work on elements of storytelling.
All this makes communication a must in UX design.
With strong communication skills, you will be able to design, collaborate, adapt and improve products easily. Good communication skills will also ensure that your final product meets the end-user requirements and is at par with stakeholder visions.
Therefore, it becomes imperative for you to hone your verbal, written, and visual communication skills.
Collaboration is a crucial part of a UX designer’s day at work.
Unless you know how to code, design, manage projects, and understand product and marketing, you’re going to need to collaborate with others in the design process, especially if you want to be successful.
Depending on the stage of development, you will be required to collaborate with leadership to define product goals, UI experts to add visual elements to a mockup or prototype, or with developers to transform your designs into code.
This allows you to work in other areas of the business and apply what you have learned with different people with complementary skill sets. In addition to this, you should be able to work in harmony in a team environment.
2. Critical thinking
Critical thinking skill is the ability to examine gathered facts, evidence, observations, and arguments to form a judgment.
Questioning is an important aspect of critical thinking. UX designers need to ask the right questions during UX research, interviews, and testing. It can help identify underlying design problems as well as reveal your assumptions and biases about those problems.
As a UX designer, you should be able to collect useful information and implement it purposefully and in a relevant manner.
Other ways to boost critical thinking skills include understanding your own thought process and developing strong foresight.
3. User empathy
The reason behind the success of every product is having a clear understanding of end-user needs. Whether the user is satisfied with a product or not depends on their experience of using that product.
A product will be successful only when you empathize with your users. In other words, you should be able to understand and realize what users really want from your design solution.
Empathy is one of the supreme qualities that UX designers should possess to succeed in professional as well as personal life. It is an essential UX skill that allows a designer to visualize and understand the product from a user’s point of view.
For the last couple of decades, the world has been seeing a decline in empathy levels. A study conducted by the University of Michigan concludes that between 1979 and 2009, empathy among young people decreased by 48% and perspective-taking by 34%.
This could be the crack in the UX design industry that aspiring designers can fill. There are many ways to develop empathy. You can begin with these few:
- Cultivating curiosity (e.g: spending time with people from different background, visiting new places, and meeting local people)
- Stepping out of your comfort zone (e.g. experiencing what’s it like to be unable to do something or let difficult situations humble you)
- Receiving feedback (e.g. how do close ones and colleagues feel about your active listening and relationship skills)
The key takeaway from this post is that UX design is an industry that demands its workforce to have both soft skills and industry-related skills or hard skills.
As a UX designer, you will be required to work using these skills independently or in tandem with each other.
This blog post, by no means, covers all the desirable skills of a UX designer. However, all the skills listed above are essential for a UX designer to stand out.