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What Set Of Skills Does a Great UX Designer Need?

Aug 176 min read

Adam Kozłowski

Head of Design at Ideamotive. More of a craftsman than an artist - with a pragmatic approach to clients' goals.

Hiring a UX designer is nowadays a natural step for most startups who invest in digital products — and this decision is made based not on intuition, but simply on data.

 

  1. According to a study done by Forrester Research, a well-designed user interface can improve the conversion rate of your site by even 200%. A change in UX can cause the conversion rate to go up by even 400%.
  2. Most users leave a site within the first 8 seconds. If you don’t grab their attention with a well-planned UX during this short time, you are losing a potential customer.
  3. Around 96% of users visiting a website are not ready to buy any product promoted on it. Good UX can convince them.

 

So, have you been convinced to invest in UX? Then read along to find out what skills does a UX designer need and hire a best-in-class expert… or become one yourself!

 

 

Are you unsure about the different roles of designers and developers in building great UX? Then read our related article:What Is The Difference Between UI/UX Designer, UI/UX Developer, and Front-end  Developer?

 

Technical UX designer skills

 

To become a UX designer, it takes years of both practice as well as getting yourself friendly with lots of data and research on the topics of user experience, user journey, and other relevant concepts. In the end, the UX designer should end up with a specific set of technical UX skills. We list the most crucial ones below.

 

1. Knowledge of specific tools

 

Can a website or app get designed using a simple graphic editor? Sure, but making use of additional, UX design-focused software will make the work much more efficient and speed up the whole development process.

The most popular tools for designers are those, of course, by Adobe. In terms of UX design, the one especially useful is Adobe XD which focuses on providing users with the best tools for creating interactive mockups and prototypes.

In the process of planning your next app or website, UX designers usually also prepare a site/app map that will be later followed by all the other people in the production team, including developers, copywriters, and general designers. Some tools useful for making such maps are FlowMap, VisualSitemaps, Gloomaps, Whimsical.

While UX maps focus on presenting how each page is related to other ones within one website, wireframes tend to focus on presenting what content should appear on the specific page and where should it be placed. Some UX wireframe tools worth mentioning are Balsamiq, MockFlow, Wireframe.cc, Axure.

Of course, some UX designers might prefer to have separate tools for each of these processes, while others tend to keep the whole design in one app. In the case of the latter, more generalist software can be used, such as Figma, Sketch, or the aforementioned Adobe XD come in handy.

 

Example of a sitemap created in Whimsical

2. Ability to build understandable prototypes


Prototypes are crucial in the early stages of the app or site development, especially when we are talking about a bigger project. They allow everyone to understand the UX designer’s vision behind the product as well as provide feedback and request adjustments before the development process gets so advanced that changes will get too costly.

Because of all this, it’s crucial for the UX designer to understand how to build prototypes (but also wireframes and maps) that will present their idea in the clearest possible way. While at some point the designer might be asked to prepare a high-fidelity, fully interactive prototype that will resemble the final product as much as possible, quicker and simpler sketches might also be done. Even if the prototype is only drawn on a piece of paper (which might also happen), it’s important to keep it as specific, non-vague as possible.

Some useful tools for creating UX design prototypes are Framer, Principle, Invision, Axure, Origami Studio, and — once again — Adobe XD.

 

Example of app prototyping in InVision for Ideamotive’s client, AURA.

 

3. Testing and analytical skills


A lot of product ideas seem great at first sight, but end up being ignored by customers. How then can you make sure that you deliver a solution that satisfies as many users as possible? Test it.

There is a lot of ways to approach design testing and it’s the UX designer’s role to choose the right way for the specific product. Launching a feature only for a group of customers (either specifically targeted or randomly chosen ones) is one of the most popular ways to run tests, but surely not the only one.

A UX designer should be also familiar with using heatmap software (e.g. Hotjar), running automated A/B tests (e.g. with Crazy Egg or Hello Bar), and researching data from manual tests. The last one is especially crucial — in the world where everything can be calculated and turned into numbers, your UX designer should not be afraid of trying to understand your customers by spending a few hours reviewing an Excel sheet with test results.

 

Want to learn some of the tricks that UX designers use to create a stunning  user experience? Then read our piece on best UX practices.

Soft UX designer skills

 

But even knowing all the most advanced graphic tools won’t make a UX designer great if they don’t develop a few highly important soft skills throughout their career. Some of the most crucial ones of these soft UX design skills are:

 

1. User empathy


UX designer is one of the people working on the project who is responsible for making sure that the product really answers the user’s needs. To make this happen, a designer has to be able to imagine themselves as an actual user, whether the product’s target group are kids, teens, teachers, builders, travelers, cooks, or elderly people.

Not many UX designers can fit themselves in all of these roles, and that’s why many focus on working with companies in a specific field. That’s why when looking for a UX designer, you should remember to hire those with previous experience in your industry.

2. Curiosity of other fields (and outside-the-box thinking)


A designer can learn a lot from exploring experiences not directly related to their field. Whether it’s photography, indie movies, or even fishing, it gives an important insight into innovations outside of the virtual world and approaching different types of users/customers. A unique hobby can bring people to think outside of the box when it comes to considering UX design.

3. Ability to cooperate well with non-designers


A UX designer must not only be able to put themselves into the position of a customer, but also understand the needs of different teams and teammates. Whether it’s a developer, copywriter, or sales team member, they all can provide the UX designer with some great hints and point him in an unexplored direction.

Digital collaboration skills of a UX designer

 

The coronavirus crisis forced many IT companies to implement remote working even if they were trying to stick to physical offices as much as possible. This changed the working habits of people and showed the advantage of freelancers used to the remote work system.

Because of this, even if you are planning to hire a UX designer to sit at the desk in the office, you should be prepared for another potential crisis like this and should target candidates with successful experience in working remotely. They will be able to easily switch between in-person meetings and digital collaboration, and recommend tools to improve the latter.

One of such useful tools is Figma, allowing multiple users, even those scattered around the world, to work on the same graphic project, building wireframes, maps, and prototypes 

together — simultaneously in real-time.

 

Figma provides you with super intuitive UX for… Designing UX

 

 

How to hire the perfect UX Designer for your team?

 

As you have already learned what skills does a UX designer need, it’s time to actually hire one. But how to make sure your candidate has the desired skillsets?

 

  1. Carefully review the portfolio of your potential hire looking for proofs of specific skills.
  2. Think of the type of product you are building - a web project needs a web designer, a mobile one a mobile designer. Look for specialists, rather than generalists.
  3. Run an interview with the assistance of a person who understands all the important UX principles. This can be another UX designer or another specialist, such as an IT project manager or a software consultant.
  4. Ask about the preferred toolset of your candidate. Compare it to the tools already used at your company — ask the candidate how comfortable he feels with them.
  5. If you have some version of your product already done, ask your candidate for feedback on it.
  6. Ask for their favorite site/app from the UX perspective. Focus on what exactly did they like in the product’s UX — this will give you an insight into how much they base their design on actual research rather than personal preferences.
  7. Ask for their favorite or the most hated trend in UX. After you learn it, present an opposing opinion on the trend and see how your candidate defends their stance.
  8. Contact our Ideamotive experts for a tailored list of best-in-class UX designers. We run an extensive pool of talented IT individuals looking for new challenges and always consider your industry/product and exact requirements when connecting you with professionals.

 

Explore the possibilities of great UX design

 

Hiring a UX designer might not feel like a priority, but if you really want to succeed in the market of digital products, it should become one. All the data proves that more rich and more intuitive user experience equals more revenue from the app.

And if you want to hire a UX designer fast and make sure the one you hire is really an expert, reach out to us. At Ideamotive, we run an industry-leading network of top IT talents looking for new project opportunities. After we discuss with you your exact requirements, we will connect you with UX designers that perfectly match your business and the specification of your product.

Adam Kozłowski

Designed the first website around the year 2004 and since then worked in various fields of design like branding, advertisement, and product design. Currently focused on UX/UI and consulting for a robust approach to results-focused applications.

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