As a UX designer, your main goal is to ensure that the final digital product is functional and easy to use. In this profession, you will be helping companies determine what users want in a particular product and working with other professionals to come up with the final design that is friendly to the end-users. The design should also meet all their needs and be engaging enough for them to use regularly.
In this profession, you will be putting in place various techniques to come up with user-friendly websites, apps and software programs. You will first talk with company management to determine their goals for a particular product. You will be doing research to find out what products are already offered in the market by competitors and then conducting interviews with users to find out the things that they want from the product. Another component of your work is finding out how users will interact with the design so you will undertake user testing in order to find out. This is where you ask users to use your website, app or software and think aloud as they do the tasks. Through user testing, you will not only be able to find out how they interact with your product but will also understand their difficulties.
As a UX designer, an important component of your job is actually finding out if what you have designed is usable. That is, does the website or app meet the needs of the users? You’ll need to determine if it is designed in such a way that the users will know how to navigate it in order to get the results they desire. Once you’ve found that it is usable, your concern will now go to the aesthetic elements of the interface. It must not only be functional but cohesive as well.
The final steps involved in your work are the alpha and beta launches of your product. The alpha launch is letting employees and some close people you know test the product while the beta launch refers to letting a limited number of users use it. The goal behind doing these mini rollouts before the ultimate launch is to find out and fix any bugs that may not have been uncovered during the initial testing phases.
To succeed as a UX designer, you need to possess an in-depth knowledge of computer programming since your technical skills will be necessary for you to create these digital products in the first place. Knowledge of programming languages like Java, HTML, CSS and Perl, among others is important as is expertise in Photoshop, Flash and Dreamweaver. You also need to have insight into human psychology since you will harness this to improve your designs.
One reason to become a user experience designer is that it gives you the opportunity to bridge together your interest in computer programming with human psychology and interaction. Understanding human behavior figures greatly into the UX design process and how this can be used into the development of technology is an interesting study for those who are inclined to go into this field.
On the more practical side, another reason to become a user experience designer is that it is a well-paying position, with the possibility of reaching a six-figure salary as one gets more experience on the job. As companies bring their businesses online and develop apps for mobile users, the need for UX designers is expected to grow.
User Experience Designer Work Environment
User experience designers typically work in computer firms, such as in software development companies and app development firms. They may also work in website development firms, providing website consulting and design services to various companies.
Like other professionals in the computer industry, the work of UX designers is often fulltime. However, they may work more than 40 hours a week to meet deadlines. This can mean doing work on evenings or weekends. They usually work in their offices although they may travel to client’s offices if they are doing the UX design process there.
User Experience Designer Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not gather salary information specifically for user experience designers. The nearest classification for this job would be that of industrial designers who received a mean annual wage of $64,570. However, salary data from private firms revealed that the annual wage of user experience designers is actually much higher. Those who have been on the job for five to seven years are typically paid $95,600 while those with more experience are paid much higher at $150,000.
User Experience Designer Career Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have the job outlook data specific to user experience designers. However, the agency projected that for the period covering 2012 to 2022, the employment rate of industrial designers, which is where user experience designers can be categorized is set to grow four percent. This is lower compared to the national average but it should be noted that the decline will be due to the slow growth in the manufacturing industry. When the job outlook of software developers and applications developers—occupations that are closely related to user experience designers—is taken into consideration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted an employment rate of 22 percent and 23 percent, respectively, in the same ten-year period. This would hint that there will be good opportunities for UX designers.
User Experience Designer Degree
The entry point towards becoming a user experience designer is a bachelor’s degree in computer science, visual design and related fields. However, a postgraduate degree will greatly enhance chances of employment. As far as skill is concerned, UX designers need to be very proficient with coding languages like Java, XML/XSL, Perl, CSS and others. It is important to have knowledge of Photoshop, Dreamweaver and similar programs since this profession is as much artistic and creative as it is technical.