How to become a UX designer (With duties and skills)

Updated 5 September 2023

UX design, also known as user experience design, involves using web design skills to create an experience for customers or users. UX designers consider a range of factors to develop an immersive and intuitive user-friendly experience on websites and apps. There's no fixed route to becoming a UX designer, but there are steps you can take to help you enter the field. In this article, we look at UX design in more detail and show how to become a UX designer.

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What is UX design?

UX design focuses on how a user interacts with a product or service in a digital space, often through a website or app. It centres on making the user experience efficient, effective and pleasant. Typically, UX design encompasses visual elements and interactive features, as well as usability and accessibility, information architecture and the whole interface between the user and their device. UX design is all about design with the end-user in mind, aiming to make the entire experience enjoyable so that the user keeps returning.

UX design is important because users want the apps and websites they use to work effectively and provide them with the information they need while also being aesthetically pleasing. Effective UX design makes apps and websites convenient to use and easy to navigate. When UX design works well, users are more likely to return in the future, which makes it an important way for brands to build trust and loyalty.

Related: 12 essential web designer skills

The difference between UX and UI design

While UX design relates to UI or user interface design, the two fields have differences. UI design focuses on how a website or app looks and functions regardless of user preferences. A UI designer uses their knowledge of aesthetics to create visual elements, such as images, typography and colour schemes. However, a UX designer applies their knowledge about what users want from the site and its features. Collaboration between UX and UI designers leads to an outcome that performs well in terms of both appearance and functionality.

Related: UI vs. UX careers: duties, skills and qualifications

What does a UX designer do?

Ar is responsible for creating user-friendly products, services and technology. UX designers use research, testing and user feedback to make choices about features and aesthetics. Because there's no single answer to a design question, UX designers typically explore and test a range of different options to identify the most effective solution. Because UX design overlaps with several other areas, such as branding and web design, UX designers often collaborate with professionals in other design fields.

A UX designer typically considers who their clients are and what they're doing on the website when designing a new page. They also review the accessibility and ease to ensure the website functions correctly.


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UX designer job duties

The responsibilities of a UX designer vary between jobs and the role includes a variety of different tasks. Here are some of the most common duties for this role:

  • Evaluating existing systems to determine the goals for a new or updated system

  • Implementing specifications to determine the features needed for the product to work correctly

  • Performing A/B testing by comparing two different systems or versions to determine which works better

  • Conducting user surveys to gather information about user preferences at various stages of development

  • Completing wireframing and prototyping to create visual representations and working models of new products

  • Creating user flows to track how users navigate a website or app to identify areas for improvement

  • Developing personas to identify where users may struggle while navigating the website or app

  • Creating content inventories to determine how to structure and organise content

  • Implementing style guides to ensure that new products are in line with the brand

  • Using analytics to make decisions based on data about user behaviour

  • Creating reports to share analytics data and predict future usage

Related: What does a UX designer do? (Including skills they need)

Do you need experience to become a UX designer?

There are no specific experience requirements if you're interested in becoming a UX designer. Education or experience in design is a great start towards becoming a UX designer, but it's possible to enter this field if your experience is in another area or if you don't yet have any work experience. Some UX designers have a background in areas such as tech consulting or psychology. Psychology or social sciences can be beneficial for understanding user behaviour. A UX design qualification is useful and courses are available that provide a great foundation for complete beginners.

Related: 11 university and online web design courses for beginners

Important skills to become a UX designer

There are a variety of skills you can develop to help you become a UX designer. One valuable soft skill for working as a UX designer is empathy. This helps you to understand how users feel and to recognise features or functions that might be problematic. Being able to collaborate and work as a team is also key because UX designers work closely with various other teams. Being able to listen to others and accept feedback is also vital when working on development.

User research is a fundamental part of UX design as this skill can help you gather and analyse user data. Continually developing your design skills is also important so that you can create responsive and visually pleasing designs. Many UX designers take part in workshops and industry events so that they have a good understanding of how the field is developing, as well as learn about new techniques and tools. Being able to keep up with new trends and continually learn new things is an important skill if you want to become a UX designer.

Related: How to write a UX designer cover letter (with example)

How to become a UX designer

If you're passionate about becoming a UX designer and you're exploring the field for the first time, there are some steps you can take to gain the knowledge and experience that helps you secure employment:

1. Learn the fundamentals of UX design

Some technical skills are crucial to UX design work, so you can learn the fundamentals, including user research, wireframing and prototyping, UI design and responsive design. A UX design course or boot camp is a great way to learn these skills, as well as start to build your portfolio of design work. Another advantage of taking a course is that you finish with up-to-date skills that are relevant to the industry.

Related: 6 Google certifications that can advance your career

2. Learn to use key design tools

As well as learning the necessary technical skills, you can learn how to use a range of design tools to work as a UX designer. This includes a variety of tools used for wireframing. Sketch is a widely used tool but other examples include Illustrator, Figma, Adobe XD and InVision Studio. You may also learn how to use interface design tools, such as Photoshop, to help you create new designs.

3. Develop your skills by working on your own projects

Working on your own projects can give you a chance to develop and refine your skills and design process. Consider experimenting with a wide variety of different UX design projects. This can strengthen your skills in a range of areas and give you versatility. As you work on more of your own projects, you may also develop other important skills, such as empathy, communication and project management.

Related: How to become a product designer (duties, skills, salary)

4. Build a portfolio of your UX design work

Working on your own UX design projects gives you the opportunity to build up a portfolio that you can then use to apply for jobs. You might think that variety and a large amount of content is the right approach, but refining your portfolio to a few pieces that suit the company you're applying to is likely to be more beneficial. Your portfolio can include work that you're passionate about and show the project's life cycle, as well as your skills and processes.

Related: How to create a UX designer CV (with definition and example)

5. Apply for UX design roles

Once you've refined your skills and built a portfolio, you can apply for UX design roles. It's common for UX designer jobs to appear under a variety of job titles. This is partly because UX designers work across a vast range of different industries. You might find jobs listed under titles such as UX engineer, UX architect or UX product manager. Sometimes UX designer jobs have broader job titles like experience designer or product designer. Make sure you read the job description carefully, so you're certain that what you're applying for is the job you really want.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


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