Careers in User Experience Design

Unless you work in UX or in automotive design, you might not think about the user experience inside your car. I recently wrote about automotive UX, but really most products, if not all products, have UX factors. That is why the job prospects for a career as a UX (user experience) designer look very good.

According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for Web Developers and Digital Interface Designers is $77,200. (Though of course, this can vary by level of experience and geographic location.) Unsurprisingly, this is a field that is expected to grow significantly in our digital-centric world. Demand for UX designers is expected to grow by at least 8% by 2029.

What is UX and what does a UX designer do?

Any time you interact with a product, a website, or app, that’s the user experience. 

If you go into a store and walk around unable to find what you want, that is a poor user experience. Are there signs to get you where you want to go? That’s navigation, not unlike the menu on a website or signage on a highway or in a theme park. 

The crossovers are many. Are you stuck waiting around just to check out at Walmart? What about checking out on walmart.com? Different tools but still UX.

A UX designer makes sure the product is straightforward to use, and that it’s a seamless experience for the consumer. But isn’t that what a web designer does? On a small site or for a small company, the two jobs might be combined, but they are separate jobs these days. 

The web designer builds the skeleton and skin of the site. The UX designer optimizes how the site functions, and the flow of the user experience. They absolutely should be working together. 

The UX designer also is involved in marketing, and often with other teams, clients, and customers.

Tasks might include:

  • Analyzing marketing data about customers.
  • Conducting surveys, focus groups, or other research to see how people use the site/app, and what they think.
  • Testing the UX in real time as a customer
  • Information architecture (maps or other organizational graphics) that shows how the site is laid out, and how the user moves through it.

People enter the field via a number of paths. Now, there are college courses and degrees in UX or software development or graphic design but the skills needed include not only computer skills, but data analysis, project management, and UX-design-specific training. Communication skills are also a major asset, given how much time UX designers spend collaborating with others. Non-degree devoted to UX design as online boot camps, training programs, and certification programs can teach the skills necessary to become a UX designer if a job does not require a degree.

Have you seen this very simple kind of UX survey somewhere?
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Be Mobile First

mobile user

Most people are searching, at least via Google, using a mobile device. Still, many people and many ranking systems, and even some designers typically look at the desktop version of a site as the main or perhaps the best version. This can be a problem.

Pages and entire sites can look great on that designer’s 30-inch monitor but fall short on that smartphone. It is a problem for ranking sites, like Google search, which admits that when the mobile version of a page has less content than the desktop page their algorithms are not evaluating the actual page that is seen by a mobile searcher.

They have been trying out ways to make results more mobile-first for the past 5 years or so. I know that Google tells me about issues with sites and many of those issues are about mobile views. The Google Search Console search.google.com/search-console/ will be primarily using the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site. That means you need to have a mobile-first mindset.