When thinking about becoming a UX designer it can be helpful to get into the head of someone who is already successful in the field. UX design is a profession that is attracting a lot of attention right now. The number of job opportunities opening up in technology is increasing year on year, and the high starting salaries, job variety, creativity and flexibility the profession allows is seeing many more people getting skilled up and launching careers in the industry. However, if becoming a UX designer is something you’re considering it’s important to bear in mind that this job is not for everybody. UX design requires a very specific skillset and a very specific mindset. In this post we’re going to talk about five personality traits that are commonly found in UX designers so you can see if this career could be a good match for you.
1. Being EMPATHETIC
If you find it hard to empathize with people you better forget about a career in User Experience. Empathy comes into play at several points in the UX design process. When conducting user research – interviewing groups of users, writing questionnaires, or conducting usability testing for a redesign – the UX designer needs to ask questions that help her understand a user’s motivations, goals, needs and feelings when interacting with that system. The UX designer then needs to take this feedback through into the design phase and work out ways to resolve each issue as well as making the entire user experience Useful, Useable and Delightful. The UX designer has to live in the world of their personas, walking in their shoes and seeing the world through their eyes, which is what makes empathy such a key trait. But it’s not just about the users. Explaining issues to other members of the team also requires a large degree of empathy. Elements of user experience design can sometimes be tough theory to explain to those who are not so familiar with it, whether they be developers, managers or a CEO. Understanding where these different stakeholders are coming from makes communication with these different teams a much smoother process.
2. Being CURIOUS
As a UX designer, you’ve got to be interested in the world around you, how things work and the people in it. Why? Because a huge part of what a UX designer does is finding out WHY people do the things they do. By understanding why a person behaves a certain way a UX designer can then seek to create products which align with their behavior, seeks to meet their goals and live up to (or exceed) expectations. When a product designer does not understand why a user behaves in a certain way they can end up designing a product which expects the user to alter their behavior to align with the product. This product will ultimately be a lot less successful because it will require a far greater effort from the user, who will most likely give up and go to a product that they find easier or more pleasurable to use. A curious person will enjoy the processes that UX design requires; making hypotheses, digging deep into analytics and data from user research groups, and implementing solutions to respond to these results. They will also be curious to know if their solutions are successful or not for the user. If you don’t have a basic curiosity in humans and their behavior, this could be a very boring job for you!
3. Being PEOPLE-ORIENTED
Whether working freelance, for a startup or for a big corporation, a user experience designer will be interacting with people all day, every day. If you like working alone, be aware that this may not be the job for you! UX design is far from a solitary profession. Not only will you be hands-on with groups of users while you gather your research or test out a first iteration, you will also be regularly meeting with project managers, teams of web developers and customer service staff through the UX design process. You may also have to explain your ideas and hypothese to more senior staff like CEOs or CTOs to get their sign off on projects. If you are working as a freelancer, you will be popping in and out of offices meeting clients to propose your ideas or be interviewed for projects. If you are in a more managerial UX position for a large corporation you will probably be managing a project from end to end and need to not only be around different teams (user researchers, user testers, web developers) all day to delegate tasks, discuss progress and solve problems.
4. Being COMMUNICATIVE
Next to empathy, having great communication skills is fundamental to a successful career in UX design. A UX designer will have to explain their designs to teams of developers, explain what a UX designer is in some cases, explain their process to teams of researchers and explain what they need from individual users during interviews and testing. Being able to explain difficult concepts in a concise, kind and professional manner can be trying for some, but for a UX designer this is not optional. You’ll need to learn how to talk to different levels of a company hierarchy from UX intern to CEO. Since you’ll have to convey your processes to senior management who might have no idea of user experience, the more concisely you can articulate the findings of your research and how those apply to the web design, the better. You’ll also need to be able to present your findings in such a way to garner support for the UX team for future projects.
5. Being a PROBLEM-SOLVER
When looking to the future of UI and UX design, problem-solving is going to become an even greater component of the UI / UX designer’s job than now. Why? Because as the technology industry continues to grow at its current rate, great aesthetic design is going to become standard. Icons, colors and buttons can be purchased, which is why a beautifully-designed site will no longer going to be the exception, it’s going to be the norm. Great problem-solving cannot be bought. It can only be learned and implemented by someone with the right skills. A site that solves the user’s problems and aligns the goals of the user with the goals of that product is going to become the differentiating feature for products, basically that site will stand out. When thinking about the value you can bring to a client or product as a UX designer, problem-solving needs to be your number one skill – breaking down the business requirements of that client and finding solutions for them. A successful UX designer will use the following process to create the best product for their client: Define the problem the user and business are trying to solve, gather information (research), explore possible solutions to the problem or problems, implement a solution, then finally evaluate the process and the results.