I’m Now a UX Designer. What’s Next?

If like myself, you come from a background in design, and have just secured yourself a position as a UX Designer, the next question you would be asking yourself is, “What can I do so that my colleagues don’t question the sanity of the hiring manager?” followed by a more sensible “What skills should I be picking up to prepare myself for the next step in my career?”

Now that you’ve mastered the double diamond and the arts of awkwardly staring at people (field research), making up imaginary friends (persona creation), and looking at walls of post-it notes only to move a a couple of them around after 8 hours, it’s time to look at what 3 areas that could compliment your core design skills.

1. PROGRAMMING

The obvious next step in your career progression. Dealing with digital screens and digital screens means plenty of exposure to the weird and wonderful ways of the development team and the tools of their trade. This includes HTML and CSS along with Javascript for the brave. Having programming skills under your arm will not only allow you to be adaptable with taking up a assistive development role every now and then but also allow you understand and hang out with the cool dudes who make the products you design. With programming skills being one of the most highly sought after skills in the market, it definitely doesn’t hurt to add this to your resume.

Great places to pick up some programming skills include Codeacademy, Coursea, and Udemy among several others.

2. STORYTELLING/COPYWRITING

Storytelling to design is what butter is to bread. As such, it’s only natural that being able to tell a compelling story is an essential skill for designers to pick up. A good story connects your design to your audience allowing for lasting and meaningful experiences. Jeff Gothelf has even labelled copy writing as the “secret weapon of UX”.

With picking up copywriting can be a challenge, a great way to start to begin writing. Medium is great for sharing your thoughts to people all around the world early waiting to read what you have to write. Another excellent article I have come across while writing this provides some exceptional tips for copywriting as designers.

3. MARKETING/SALES

Speak to any designer and you’ll find that the very idea of marketing or sales seem to be at odds with design, especially good design. It is the age old fight between feature-driven products and user-driven products. However, I believe that there is plenty that we can teach and in turn, learn from each other.

Having an understanding of how to sell a product and how well a product will sell is what will make the difference between a bankrupt company and a company making millions in revenue. As designers, our approach to problem solving already ensures that we know, if not embody who our users are. This empathetic approach means we understand what behavioural drivers steer users into making certain decisions and we can, and have, used this super power for good or evil.

Going through design school, I have always thought of my career path as straight cut and simple — graduate and get a job in a design agency or as an in-house designer. Next step is to work my way up to Creative Director and then retire knowing that you’ve contributed your fair share to the design world (hopefully). Having practiced design and consulting for the past few years, the one thing I’ve learned is that we need to be adaptive and flexible. Design is not necessarily a job title but rather an approach to problem solving.

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