What is UX design?
UX stands for user experience, so UX design involves crafting the best possible experience for a user when they access a product or service. The term is sometimes – and wrongly – used interchangeably with UI, or user interface, but UX design is a far broader discipline that deals with the whole experience the end user has of the company.
What does a UX designer do?
As UX design is a broad field that handles all of the different aspects of user experience, the role of a UX designer has to reflect this. The role takes into account user psychology, as well as the more practical duties of actually crafting the experience.
This means researching the products and services offered by the organisation, as well as their position within the market, crafting user personas and understanding motivations, and then designing the best possible experience for the user based on this.
User experience design is, of course, an ongoing discipline. As consumer motivation changes, and as new functionality is added to the business, the role of the UX designer will evolve alongside this.
UX designer responsibilities
- Researching the product or service to understand its audience and its position in the market, gathering data that is used to deliver the best possible results to each user
- Understanding the psychology and motivation of the user so as to position the product or service in a way that supports this
- Crafting the product, service, or other point of interaction in a way that fits into the narrative of the customer journey
- Structuring and labelling the information architecture and then wireframing to demonstrate the final look and feel of the experience
- Creating prototypes of websites, applications, or products to further demonstrate this user experience
- Testing the user experience and ironing out any issues before launch
- Ongoing testing and appraisal to make sure the user experience continues to be the best it can be
What qualifications does a UX designer need?
Most UX designers will need to be educated to bachelor's degree level to qualify for a position. This bachelor's degree will most likely be in visual design, information technology, or computer science, but degrees in psychology and communications may also be useful.
Some organisations may take on UX designers without this bachelor's degree, provided that they have enough experience in a relevant field. This experience may have been gained in the form of apprenticeship or from freelance UX design projects in some cases. More experienced and better-qualified candidates will have an advantage when applying for roles, and will receive higher salaries as a result.
Master's degrees may not be required for entry-level positions but may make it easier for UX designers to achieve higher salaries. A master's degree may also give the designer the opportunity to achieve a more senior role as long as they also have the requisite experience on the job.
What is the career path for a UX designer?
Junior UX designer
UX design assistant
Customer psychology researcher
UX design apprentice
UX design manager
UX design team leader
UX design project manager
Senior UX design manager
Who does a UX designer report to?
The management structure for a UX designer depends largely on the size of the organisation. In smaller organisations, the UX designer may report directly to upper management or to senior project managers handling the development of new products and services.
In larger organisations, the structure is likely to be more complex, with junior UX designers reporting to line managers and senior UX designers. These senior UX designers may report to upper management, or there may be other intermediary strata that they must report to.
All UX designers will need to work side by side with different teams to ensure a harmonious approach to design. This means reporting to different groups within the organisation and collaborating on a project-specific basis.
Common UX design terms
User centred design
User journey maps
How much does a UX designer earn?
A UX designer earns around $101,850 on average each year.
This is greatly dependent on experience and qualification, with entry-level UX designers earning around $46,000 and more experienced professionals commanding a salary of $179,000.
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