A UX designer plays a pivotal role in app development. Your work starts as early as crafting and understanding user requirements to the point of sitting alongside actual users during end user testing. Every decision taken by a UX designer has to be strategically thought out to improve the user experience with the end product.
Technical skills and domain expertise alone can only get you so far in this demanding position. Here are some of the soft skills that are in high demand to be a successful UX designer.
Communication is key
Whether it's to discuss a client's requirements, understand an end user's goals, or to explain a design to the development team, communication skills play a huge role. Without this essential skill, your technical skills will be of little use. There are several key areas in which your communication skills will come in to play in a big way:
1. Building a relationship with users
2. Conducting successful user interviews
3. Working with your internal team to ideate, brainstorm, and present solutions
4. Collaborate with the development team to implement your design successfully.
Hone your empathy
UX is centred around building products that work for people. To achieve this lofty goal, you have to understand what people need, not just what they want. To be able to identify with your users, put yourself in their shoes, and to view the world through their eyes. This requires a high level of empathy, to be able to identify with another person's life, their work, their emotions, their goals, and their motivations.
Too often we find that asking direct questions and building a product based only on requirements and verbal responses, results in a product that while functional, doesn't really meet the expectations of the end users.
Another key skill to pick up on your path to being a great UX designer is adaptability. Learn to mould your thinking to fit different domains and to work with different teams. Unless you plan to work in a niche of a single product company your entire life, you will need to work in multiple domains, with different groups of people throughout your career.
We know how fast deadlines can change, milestones can loom up, and requirements can change. Being flexible enough to handle these changes is a key skill in any IT role, and one that will help guard your sanity. It's especially useful in a UX designer role, where you will be constantly facing the end users.
Being an independent worker is a great tool to have in your toolbox. While much of your work depends on working and meshing well with others, you will find that once the meetings and presentations are over, you are often alone with a bunch of ideas, and a whiteboard. This is where you can shine alone, you don't need to wait for instructions or guidance from your management team, or even your PM. The timelines for the task should be clear enough, set your own goals, and then achieve them!
UX designers have to constantly think out of the box, challenge the status quo, and come up with new and inspiring ideas. This is what helps the industry to grow, and brings about the next big thing. Your ability to think creatively and design solutions that work better than anything currently in the market will be a great selling point for your organisation's products.
While creative thinking can solve problems, UX designers also need to gather and analyse data. How else are you going to figure out if your product is working as intended or not? User research and analytical thinking go a long way to ensure that users remain happy with your products.
Finally, throw a wee bit of project management into the mix, and bake till golden. A good UX designer works as well independently as they do in a team. They sometimes have to manage both themselves and a team to make it past tight deadlines and shifting requirements. Being able to manage and delegate tasks, provide guidance, and manage risks are becoming more and more important to being a competent UX designer.
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Going from fair to great requires a fairly complicated level of skills from a UX designer. To meet the expectations of customers and internal teams, a UX designer has to possess both substantial technical and soft skills. What other skills would you consider essential for a UX designer?