For anyone looking for a role as a UX designer, it is important to know what sort of things companies are looking for. As a profession, mastery of UX design requires a wide range of skills, knowledge and attributes that draw upon various disciplines, whilst adopting a holistic approach. JM Digital has compiled a list of the more specialist aptitudes that we believe to be essential for a good UX designer to possess.
Knowledge of Principles of Cognitive Psychology
A common misunderstanding amongst many employers hiring UX designers for the first time is that they simply need to find a designer who insists they make user-friendly products. However, whilst a background in design is fundamental, the main purpose of their role speaks for itself: to test and improve the usability of a product.
Therefore, a thorough understanding of cognitive psychology is an important attribute to have. This includes knowing how to conduct usability tests, collate the data and analyse it quantitatively and qualitatively. Add to that a natural ability to perceive human nature and behaviour.
Versatile & Proactive Communication
As orchestrators that join the dots between design teams, management and users, UX designers must be acutely articulate both verbally and visually. They should be highly creative diplomats who can present ideas to an audience off the cuff, through the use of various media. This includes things like sketching and rhetoric, persuasive writing as well as verbal storytelling.
It is a UX designerâ€™s job to clearly ascertain what the user wants and needs from a product, and implement it into the design whilst remaining true to the companyâ€™s interests. Their communication skills must therefore extend to listening to and empathising; combining creative thinking with technical knowledge.
Media & Technical Knowledge and Skills
For a UX designer to do their job effectively, they must be able to demonstrate enough experience and knowhow of all the media and technical elements of the design process. While the depth of these skills required will depend on the project, masters of UX design are fully competent in a range of design professions with the added aptitude of explicitly understanding how to improve the user-product experience. Aesthetics are important, but more often than not it is the technical aspects of design that make a product more user friendly. Moreover, UX designers are able to express complex technical information in a clear and interesting manner.
In accordance with a background in cognitive psychology, any UX designer worth hiring should always insist on carrying out user research before commencing with any designs. It is crucial that they adopt a proactive approach and not a reactive one. In other words: start with user research, then design the prototype; test usability; address any issues.
It may sound obvious, but it is important enough to reiterate. A UX designerâ€™s purpose is written in their job title and should never be overlooked, in any instance. Everything they do should be done with the user in mind: from their research methods to their design approach and management of projects and people. If you hire the right person, your products and their usability should see a significant improvement.