In software engineering UX covers all aspects of an end user's interaction with a product or application. This includes UI, navigation, speed, efficiency, accuracy, intuitiveness, and other aspects that define the experience a user will have when using the product. A UX designer's job starts from the moment an opportunity is brought to the table. They are involved in nearly all stages of the project from initial analysis alongside BAs to testing out the end product alongside QA engineers to ensure that their vision has been captured. Considering the responsibilities that rest on their shoulders UX designers need to be pretty special folks with a wide range of skills. Let's take a look at some of the soft skills that a UX designer needs to have in their arsenal to be as successful as possible
Key skills for UX Designers
While it slips by unnoticed in many cases, empathy is a key tool in a UX designers utility belt. The ability to not just listen to users, but to actually put yourself in their role, see what they see, and feel what they feel - is a skill that is in short supply and high demand. A good UX designer doesn't only wield this skill, but does it with a genuine interest in finding out what's best for the users. Taking the time to learn about the users and develop a deeper understanding than just their requirements. This results in an engaging product that delights the users.
While empathy is a soft skill that is subtle in its working, communication is something that you either got, or will make its absence felt in a heartbeat. Communication plays a pivotal role in nearly all other skills, making it truly indispensable for a UX designer. A few instances where communication plays a key role are:
Building an empathic relationship with the end users
Presenting findings to the project team and business owners
Collaborating with engineers and other team members
A UX designer's job is not to develop products, but to solve problems. To that end, it is essential that you have considerable skills in problem solving. These include the ability to grasp the full implications of a problem, critical thinking, seeing the bigger picture - as in how this affects the rest of what we're trying to do here, and being able to think out of the box when it comes to providing solutions.
Teamwork and collaboration
Software engineering by principle demands a high level of team work from every single person involved. It's no different for UX designers. As a UX designer you will work with many different people across the board, from both clients and within the development team. Your input is essential in nearly every aspect of product development. You will need to sit with BAs, Engineers and developers, QA, and with PMs to discuss strategy, present findings, and take part in brainstorming sessions.
Presentation and storytelling
While these are technically separate skills, they tend to go together in many cases. In many projects you will be required to present your findings and explain the requirements in a way that is easily understandable and digestible for the rest of the team. This is where your skills in presentation and storytelling will come into play. While many of us may forget within minutes a long, involved requirements discussion, we still remember the stories we heard in childhood. Making information attractive and interesting helps consumers of that information to retain it with less effort and more clarity.
A UX designer's job is demanding and the skills they need to deliver must be upto the challenge. In addition to a plethora of technical skills, their quiver must be equipped with a host of soft skills that helps them to connect with the end users, and work together with their team to provide the best solution to the users problems. While these skills can be developed and honed over time, it is futile to attempt to continue on the UX path without them.