Everyone wants to be a Millionaire (User Experience Designer)

At least once a week I get someone asking ‘What is UX?’ or ‘How do I get into UX?’ Sometimes it’s the same person asking both those questions on separate days. Becoming a UX’er is not an easy career but it is probably the most rewarding and challenging I have ever had.

So here they are, the top 5 skills you need to be an amazing User Experience Designer.

Knowing how to develop an idea — The best solutions are not always your own. You need to be a conduit for ideas from the product team, your customers and the web. You will often hear ‘we want to increase sales of Product X let’s throw in a banner or move Product X to the top of the page’. You need to be confident enough to push back, to ask questions. It’s your job to find out what the problem is before you can fix it. Product X might not be selling because your customers don’t understand it or it’s located in the wrong section.

Wireframing — ‘UX its just wireframing?’ Nope! A wireframe deck is the finial deliverable; after you have completed your research. If your portfolio only contains wireframes, don’t expect a second interview. Wireframes can be hand drawn in a few minutes. What is more important is you need to be able to explain and defend your rationale which also helps you to…

Sell the solution — You might have the best solution in the world and it might have tested amazingly with customers. But you still need to sell the idea to your stakeholders. You need to be confident selling the idea and have evidence from customers to back it up. It’s hard for anyone to argue against user testing and solid analytical data.

Knowing how to collaborate — Other teams may hate you. OK ‘hate’ is a strong word. Some areas of the business don’t understand the value in engaging the UX team. Sometimes it’s just a case of someone thinking their idea is just better and UX is not needed. Collaborating with stakeholders, designers, programmers and BA’s early as possible creates buy in and often makes your project run smother.

Take defeat graciously — If you’re working in a large company there are many different ways your project can get derailed. You need to be able to stand up and fight for the idea. But you also need to choose your battles wisely. Spending days arguing about the location of a button could easily be solved with A B testing or getting customer feedback.

Some of the best User experience designers I have had the pleasure to work with are not only full of common sense but are humble & passionate. They care about doing what’s best for the customer but also aware that the business needs to make a profit to pay their salary. If you’re still thinking about getting into the UX for the money or glamorous parties, read through this again. It’s not an easy career; it requires a diverse range of skills and lots of patience. So what are you waiting for?