UX Designer As a Career

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What is user experience and what does a UX designer do?

You are interacting with this site now. That is user experience. When you’re in a brick-and-mortar store, the way things are organized, laid out on the floor, and on the shelves are all UX. An employee asks you “Did you find all you were looking for today?” Were there signs to get you where you wanted to go? Were stuck in line waiting to check out? All of these things have comparable UX concerns for a website or app.

Spending your time on a site clicking around, frustrated, or digging for some contact info so you can get some help, that’s not ideal for anyone.

Enter the UX designer whose job is to make sure the site is a seamless experience for the user. UX designers a re not web designers, though they would interact with them and have some similar skills.

While a web designer build the framework of the site and a graphic designer is charged with making the site look good, the UX designer is responsible for optimizing how the site functions.

UX designers also work with the marketing team making sure what goes to the public and the feedback that comes from them makes both sides of the screen happy.

UX designers work with many team members. (Though we should note that with a small design company one or two people might do multiple jobs.)

Some jobs that are clearly on the UX designer’s menu, such as analyzing marketing data about customers and conducting surveys, focus groups, or other research to see how people use the site and their opinions.

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