User experience design is an exciting, multi-faceted discipline exploring how human behavior intersects with the digital products we use. UX designers represent the customer within an organization, ensuring products balance user needs with business goals.
This article explores the skills you’ll need as a UX designer, various career paths, as well as courses and degrees that will get you there.
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Table of contents
- UX Designer Soft Skills
- UX Designer Hard Skills
- UX Career Paths
- What are Great UX Design Courses?
- End-to-End Design With UXPin
Do You Need a Degree in UX Design?
Most designers used to learn UX design on the job, but growing popularity of the field made it a competitive occupation. That’s why you may consider formal education in design, university degree or recommended course.
Of course, you will meet practitioners who have no university degree in UX design and they’re amazing at their job, but education and having a portfolio can help you get the first job.
A UX portfolio is still a major selling point because it shows your problem solving skills and your understanding of the design process. It also helps recruiters see if you are the right fit for the team.
UX Designer Soft Skills
The word design in UX design often leads people to confuse the discipline with graphic or visual design. While those are facets of UX design, it’s more about designing experiences rather than beautiful aesthetics.
Here are some soft skills UX designers need to design successful user experiences. Some of these skills may surprise you if you’re unfamiliar with UX design.
Empathy is a vital skill for UX designers and is the first stage of the design thinking process. Most projects UX designers work on will be for products they don’t use themselves. They must use empathy to understand problems from a user’s perspective and design a solution to meet those needs.
Empathy is also a valuable skill for working in teams. Putting yourself in the shoes of product managers, engineers, stakeholders, etc., can reduce friction while seeking ways to improve collaboration.
Active listening and empathy are closely related. To empathize effectively, UX designers must listen without developing assumptions, biases, or conclusions that prevent them from getting to someone’s core problems. They’re also not waiting for their turn to talk, leaving “dead air” for someone to think, and not interrupting while they speak are crucial for active listening.
To understand what someone might think, UX designers must also pay attention to non-verbal communication during user testing and interviews, like eye movements and facial expressions. Users often don’t tell you everything because maybe they’re embarrassed or think the information is irrelevant. Identifying these opportunities to ask meaningful questions helps designers become better listeners.
Communication is another vital UX design soft skill. UX designers must communicate on many levels, probably more than most departments.