Dreaming of becoming a UX designer, but you’re still snoopy about what all design career entails? What is it like to be a UX designer? And what does a UX designer do? The responsibilities of a UX designer continue to be a mystery for many because of its relative freshness. There are a lot of different UX design job descriptions floating on the Internet, only to add to the confusion of aspiring UX designers. In some UX design jobs descriptions, you will observe that a UX designer job role is more on the technical side where he builds prototypes while in others you will observe that it’s more of a research-based role. Well, the real answer to the question “What does a UX designer do?” is, “it depends”. The responsibilities of a UX designer varies from company to company (start-up or a larger corporation), project to project within the same company along with an individual’s role in the design team. Though every UX designer has various responsibilities, the end goal of a UX designer is to make the product usable, useful, and enjoyable for the target market. To give you an in-depth understanding, let’s take a closer look at what a UX designer does and the UX design process they follow.
What Does a UX Designer Do?
As the popular idiom says, “A picture is worth a thousand words”, but for businesses today, “UX design is worth a thousand dollars” as it is the catalyst that creates synergy between the user, technology, and business. From Apple’s web store to Google’s simple search engine to Facebook’s personalised newsfeed, UX designers play an integral part in the “better product” race. A UX designer is concerned with the complete design process involved in developing an entire product, starting from research, conceptualising to designing, prototyping and testing. You will design how users experience a product from start to finish and pay attention to the availability of the product.
As a UX designer, one day you might be working on a new concept and the next you could be creating prototypes or wireframing. Other times you might be involved in conducting interviews, doing user research, and sending out surveys to the target users. Your responsibility as a UX designer totally depends on which company you are working with and where you are in the UX design process. A UX designer’s final deliverable is: solving user problems. Now whether they solve that problem through a couple of screen navigations, or through a message on the snack bar, or through a pop-up is what a UX designer job entails. Despite the multi-faceted responsibilities, there are some general responsibilities a UX designer have to perform in order to align with the UX design process –
1. End to End Product Research – User + Market Research
“Want your users to fall in love with your designs? Fall in love with your users.” — Dana Chisnell
If a UX designer ignores the users, a user will ignore your product. As a UX designer, you need to keep your users in mind to build a great foundation for your product. Understanding the nature of the users and how it affects their needs is extremely important to make a product usable. UX designers are responsible for building a mutually beneficial relationship between the user and the business through good UX research. A good UX designer gets married to the user’s problems and tries to understand what is best for users.
As a part of the product research, a UX designer –
- Understand user goals, needs, behaviours along with motivation that drives the success of a product. This is done through various observations and feedback collection methods like surveys, in-person interviews with stakeholders and users, questionnaires, unmoderated A/B tests, and more.
- UX designer conducts an analysis of various competitive products in the industry from a business perspective, brand direction, and user needs. This also involves finding information on various technical barriers, industry best practices, and opportunities.
Deliverables Expected from a UX Designer
- User Personas – A UX persona represented either graphically or in the text is an ideal profile of your customer. It is a fictional character that describes a typical user’s needs, goals, pain-points, motivations, and skills. These user personas will give you a clear idea of who your target users are and how you should proceed with the design to build a product or a service that helps them.
- Customer Journey Map – This represents a series of steps the user takes to achieve a goal. Often referred to as the experience map that is used by UX designers to understand the user pain-points and see how a product fits along with the customer’s journey and helps him/her accordingly. Here’s an example of a customer journey map of a couple planning their holiday. The couple’s behaviour further helps travel sites make holiday experience better and memorable
2. Determine the Information Architecture of a Product
Having created the user personas and customer journey map, UX designers start thinking about what kind of content is required and how it has to be structured across an application or website. A UX designer is responsible for organising the information gathered through a well-defined, and logical information architecture to make sure that users can easily find what they’re looking for without too much thought-process. Just like an architect designs a blueprint before constructing every part of the house, UX designers create an information architecture that describes the features, functions, navigation, layouts, interactions, and the hierarchy of an application or a website.
The most common deliverable in this design phase is the creation of a user flow map – a sitemap. UX designers create a hierarchy and navigation sitemap considering user expectations and project requirements. The sitemap shows how a user will transition from one section to another section of the product/service. Here’s a sample sitemap of the checkout process of a website –
3. Design Wireframes and Prototypes
UX designers create a 2D illustration of each screen or page that a user navigates to while interacting with a product or a service. Wireframes emphasise content prioritisation, functionalities available, space allocation, and intended behaviour. A wireframe is like a skeletal framework of a page or a screen to catch problems early and saves a lot of designer’s time involved in implementing feedback and changes. It is easier to make changes in the early stages rather than implementing changes in the end when there are plenty of visual elements present. Having designed the wireframes (basic layout and structural guidelines), UX designers then create prototypes, a high-fidelity version of an actual application with in-depth details, interactions, and visualisations. Prototypes closely mimic the actual application or website. This helps UX designers get a practical and realistic idea of the website or application with workable effects, animations, and interactions.
4. Perform Product Testing
UX designers test the prototypes on actual users to identify any flaws in the design before they get developed. One or more rounds of testing are performed by the UX designer before the product is ready to be deployed. As a UX designer, you will also have to attend sprint meetings and supervise product development to ensure that there are no feature creeps. Based on the problems identified in the testing phase, a UX designer optimises the design with small refinements to enhance the usability of the product.
Is UX Design a Good Career Choice?
Career counsellors at Springboard are often asked this question. UX aspirants are curious about becoming a UX designer but they still are in a dilemma. Is UX design a good career choice in 2020 and beyond? Well, there are many reasons to become a UX designer. Earlier, user experience design was considered as the seasoning that businesses would sprinkle on their product for taste but today it’s the flour, a much-needed ingredient at the start of a recipe. Market demand is the prime reason for adding up to the increasing popularity of UX design jobs. Today, UX design is one of the most sought-after skill sets, particularly in product-based companies. According to LinkedIn research, UX design is among the top 5 most in-demand technical skills for 2020. Glassdoor ranked UX designer job among the top high-paying entry-level jobs in 2019. Oh, and did we mention that the average salary of a UX designer is approaching 10 lakhs per annum. Today companies are user experience obsessed and there is a dearth of skilled talent. Organisations battle to hire the best UX professionals who can help them build user-centric products and experiences. It’s not just the booming demand, but UX design jobs are also well-paid, challenging, creatively fulfilling, and comes along with a scope of innovation and experimentation making them an ideal career choice. UX designer jobs are really fascinating and are destined to take you towards many lucrative growth opportunities.
How to Become a UX Designer?
If you’ve made it this far reading on what responsibilities a UX designer is tasked with, you mostly are keen on getting started with a career in UX design. Follow these steps for a smooth career transition into user experience design –
- Read a lot about user experience, especially focus on content targeted at UX design beginners. There is a range of online learning resources available for aspiring UX designers – blogs, vlogs, podcasts, and UX learning communities.
- Learn about the basic UX principles and best practices to build a strong foundation for UX design.
- Structure your learning with an intensive UX design course that puts your theoretical UX design skills into practice with the expert course curriculum, project-based learning, mentor support, and career support.
- Practice as much as possible by grabbing every chance you get to learn-by-doing.
- As you practice and gain hands-on experience, build a UX portfolio of all the case studies you’ve worked on.
- Last but not least, never stop learning. Keep yourself updated with the latest UX tools and technologies and the constantly changing user expectations and experience.
If you feel like you need more detailed information on how to become a UX designer, do read our comprehensive 7-Step guide on how to become a UX designer.
Ready to Become a UX Designer?
There is no fast-track to become a UX designer, all it requires is practice and mentorship. Check out Springboard’s 1:1 mentoring-led and project-based UI/UX Design career track to become a UX designer in 9 months. Acquire UI/UX design skills and take charge of your career. Talk to our career coach today to find out if UX design is a great career choice for you.