When you think of a typical UX designer, what do you see?
The question might be a little difficult to answer because to be fair, there are as many UX designers as there are UX designs.
Their histories, academic backgrounds, skillsets, and work ethic create some staggering distinctions in a group that is commonly treated as a monolith. The ways people store, process, and perceive information would be particularly relevant to design, content creation, and marketing. However, considering the diversity of UX designers they each bring something unique to the table.
In this article, we shed light upon certain qualities and skills that all the best UX designers possess
What Qualities Make a Good UX Designer?
A good UX designer is one who understands the kind of experience that users want, communicates that to the client, and turns a vision into reality.
Though it is easier said than done, qualities like empathy assist the process of understanding what users think, feel, and experience after arriving on a website. You’re never going to make a striking website for your target audience without taking the time to understand them.
UX leadership helps manage client expectations, as well as the entire UX teams, which explains the rise in UX leadership practices across the board. To lead both a team and an organisation in the right direction requires managing expectations, constructive reinforcement, and the ability to embrace change.
Perhaps the most difficult part is to be able to have a UX that tells a story. Creativity, innovation, and ingenuity are skills that go a long way in turning an empty canvas into a painting that speaks to thousands.
Ultimately, these qualities tie into the principles underlying user-centered design – what every UX designer seeks to master.
What Skills Should a UX Designer Have?
If you want your UX design to fit well with your website, you will need a UX designer who has the appropriate skills to do the job.
Perceptiveness, communication, and relatability – these are all important qualities for the trade. What though, are the most important skills? We’ve compiled a list that summarizes the qualities of a great UX designer.
An Aptitude For Visual Design
Though this might seem incredibly obvious, it’s surprising how underdeveloped a UX designer’s aptitude for design can be.
We’ve all heard about the importance of user-centric design as a guiding principle for UX designers, but in the real world how easy is it to implement? After all, a designer needs to be able to visualise a platform that is meant for thousands of users with different likes, tastes, and dislikes. So, what then should they keep in mind?
A designer that builds competency in understanding the use of white space to achieve a sleek, minimalistic design will be able to do better in understanding where people are most likely to look, and what design is most likely to direct a user’s attention to a particular direction.
Since the size and font have the ability to attract people towards a certain piece of content, it is necessary to develop aesthetic skills that understand which font types, sizes, and styles resonate with your target audience.
Once you have developed the skills to make the written content appealing, it’s imperative to understand the design elements of your page. Understanding the power of shapes, abstract designs, and the psychology behind the use of colours is essential for developing a sense of design.
A Knack for User Research
User research is one of your most valuable assets as the goal of UX design is to understand its users and make their experience on the platform as smooth as possible.
UX designers evaluate the ways in which their designs can minimise the identified hurdles through user research which involves several methods that help understand user behaviour, issues, and needs.
Popular methods like competitor analysis are useful tools towards user experience research since it makes use of the two fundamental principles of user research: understanding the information that needs to be researched, and ensuring that information is properly synthesised.
Primary user research can be informal but effective in order to understand what your users are facing in real-time. For example, focus groups with a limited number of users (usually around 6) have moderated discussions regarding their experience with the user interface, and how it can be improved.
Similarly, surveys and feedback loops are both effective ways of understanding what users think about your website. Particularly for the latter, a good UX designer needs to develop a sense of the elements on the webpage that could potentially cause problems, and allow for the ways to let the user know that a response will be given. To cultivate these skills, UX designers should look at resources with access to UX research tools.
A Capacity for Systems Thinking
You’re probably wondering: what is ‘systems thinking’?
Definitionally, systems thinking refers to the ability to see a ‘big picture’ and trying to understand how its individual parts interrelate and interact to help it function.
The job of the UX designer is not just limited to their client and the design they build for users, but rather, revolves around the design ecosystem as a whole. Understanding the processes that link the user to the interface is what optimises a UX design.
One way of viewing systems thinking is as: A way of troubleshooting, whereby problems can be framed into different chunks of information, and the relationships and connections between the information and the problem can be devised by recognising the way they function.
Although in practical terms, any UX designer can be trained to perceive design through such a ‘big picture’ perspective, those with social sciences backgrounds come equipped with such thinking patterns. Just as in social sciences where the understanding of the way users behave and interact with their environments and the society around them are core principles, the same is fundamental to systems thinking.
The Ability of Technical Writing
The term “UX design” can be misleading, since the design is incomplete without a firm understanding of the words that go into it.
When designing a website’s prompts, it is important to understand how certain words fit with certain themes. It’s important to be familiar with vocabulary that is generally understood by the target market, particularly the audience that wishes to use your website as a platform to inform themselves.
For the purpose of organisation, it is essential to make sure that the content is in harmony with the information architecture of the platform, which refers to the way that the elements on the webpage are divided and organised, for the purpose of optimising the user experience. To develop related skills, it is essential to work closely with the user research and the profiling segments of the process and implement user testing wherever relevant.
To effectively implement any major design changes at any point in the process, it is just as important for UX designers to have a decent understanding of coding. This will assist them in communication with the developers, realistically craft their vision of the platform, and prototype any ideas that they immediately want to test.
Though the job by no means requires the average UX designer to get a certification in technical writing, it’s a skill that will be useful throughout the journey.
An Appreciation for Testing
Robert Virzi released a paper in 1992 that stated that only 5 users are needed to discover around 80% of the problems associated with a UX. This was to highlight how much time and effort businesses waste in usability testing.
CUE studies have shown, however, that this is not the case. Even teams of around 15 people could only report around 60% of the issues associated with the UX.
It is important to have UX designers who know how to test, and understand just how essential testing is in order to ensure a functional and attractive UX.
Wireframing can be a designer’s biggest ally to help ensure that there aren’t any hiccups in the process.
Which prompts the question: what is wireframing?
In essence, a website wireframe refers to the blueprint of the platform: What it will potentially look like, how it will function, and how users will interact with it. A decent wireframe will also show the way different webpages interact with one another, showing how clickable components of one page will result in landing on another page.
There are many examples of wireframes that exist, and each has its benefits. It may be useful to find free wireframe tools on the internet that will help you save crucial time and effort.
Besides wireframing, prototyping is an extremely useful way to design interfaces. How do they help? Well, since clients like to see the progress of their work prototyping can help them visualise progress.
Useful ways to improve your prototyping skills is to make several quick, rough prototypes on the job, and receive constant feedback from clients. This will make sure that you not only have a better understanding of what they want, but it’ll also help you for future UX design tasks.
Usability evaluations and user testing can identify the parts of the programme that are difficult to understand by users and rectify them immediately, to ensure that the end-user experience is both satisfying and easy-to-follow.
Polishing your skills is a process. Following the principles above should help catalyse that process, but it is always important to make sure that you expose yourself to as many UX resources as possible, and make the most of your experience.
The Value Of A Competent UX Designer
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, there’s no secret formula that will help you hone your skills as a UX designer in one fell swoop.
Seldom will you find a UX designer that’s perfect in nearly every way. Some may be great at visual design, others at user research, and some might be testing-fanatics. It is important that a business evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate against their project requirements before deciding who to choose. Remember: what you can’t achieve with one designer, achieve with several.
The core of UX design lies within the ability to get into the user’s head and understand the way they think. All these skills help designers enhance their understanding.