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Pivoting Your Career: What Is UX Design?
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Pivoting Your Career: What Is UX Design?

Pivoting Your Career: What Is UX Design? cover

A lot has been said about UX Design lately. The field is growing fast, and many companies are approaching UX maturity.

But what is UX Design? What are a UX Designers' responsibilities?

Moreover, why is UX Design so important? And how much do these professionals earn?

If you were interested in this article, these are probably some of the many questions going through your mind. Keep reading to find the answers and learn more about UX Design!

What is UX Design?

UX Design stands for User Experience Design, and its main purpose is to solve users' problems and ensure they have a good experience while interacting with a product.

For this, UX Design relies on different research methods to gather information about users and understand their needs, goals, aspirations, and pain points.

In addition, UX Design aligns user needs and business goals to develop products and services that benefit both customers and the company.

Moreover, UX Design is deeply related to digital product development, like websites, software, or mobile apps. But user experience goes far beyond a product's features or how people interact with it.

Because, in fact, everything that involves the user journey also involves UX Design.

Don Norman talks about UX.

UX Design is a multidisciplinary area that includes skills such as:

  • Interaction Design;
  • Information Architecture;
  • Visual Design;
  • Psychology;
  • Storytelling;
  • Design Thinking.

However, having a specific background to work in UX Design is not necessary. We will address this issue further on.

UX Design and User-Centered Design

As seen, UX Design is responsible for developing products and services that meet the specific needs of users. Thus, it is essential to say that one of the basic concepts of UX Design is User-Centered Design.

UCD is an iterative design process that aims to develop a better understanding of users' needs. For this, various research methods are used, such as user interviews and usability tests.

A User-Centered approach puts the user in focus, considering their needs and goals to make relevant decisions about product development.

Therefore, it is crucial to understand the relationship between UCD and UX Design.

In this sense, User-Centered Design is the concept that will keep the focus of UX on the user and not just on aesthetics.

After all, a beautiful product without any functionality is useless.

Reading tip: User-Centered Design: Building Products To Meet User Needs

Don and Tog show an example of bad design.

UX Design for digital products

UX Design has been present for quite some time now, and, as seen in the video above, it can — and should — be applied to physical products, like a simple bowl.

However, UX Design became widespread in its usage applied to digital products. Perhaps we all make this association: UX Design is used to develop mobile apps, websites, and software.

This association with technology, however, is not by chance. UX Design has been rapidly growing, and there are good prospects for the area in the future.

The UX Design boom

The Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g) conducted a study to answer the question of the progress of the UX field. For that, they have chosen one variable to create a forecast: the number of UX professionals worldwide.

The perspective is that by 2050 the UX profession is expected to grow to about 100 million people.

Part of this growth is because companies are beginning to understand that UX Design adds value to the business and should be part of the company's strategy.

Even with the pandemic and health crisis of 2020, the UX Design market has not stopped growing. Companies had to adapt their products and services to the digital world in this moment of isolation and quarantine.

For this, they had to hire UX and Product Designers to carry out these transformations.

At the beginning of 2020, there were over 1.74 billion websites, and according to Business of Apps, 143.6 billion apps and games were downloaded in 2021. Google Play was responsible for 111.3 billion downloads from that number, while iOS had 32.3 billion downloads.

All of these mobile apps and websites need the skills of a UX designer in one way or another.

Also, as stated by UX design Institute, a report produced by Hired.com showed a 289% increase in requests for UX interviews.

To summarize, the UX Design field is growing, companies are hiring and there is a need for skilled professionals in the area.

Reading tip: Design Thinking: Creating Innovative Solutions

What are the benefits of UX Design?

From a user's point of view, the importance of UX Design is quite clear. People want to use products that are easy to use, that solve their problems and provide them with a good experience.

From a business point of view, UX also brings several benefits, like:

  • user loyalty;
  • brand and company image development;
  • improvement of product development processes;
  • competitiveness;
  • increase in revenue and decrease in costs.

Many companies are beginning to understand these benefits and are taking the chance to invest in UX. This evolution in the maturity of companies contributes to the market's growth and the development of better digital products.

From a UX Designer's point of view, user experience is important because:

  • provides multiple opportunities to work on different projects;
  • creates opportunities for international work;
  • gives voice to designers and enables their participation in the company's strategy;
  • provides them a sense of value as they can directly impact people's lives for the better.

What does a UX Designer actually do?

UX Designers are responsible for the overall user experience of a product, and they also help to develop digital products.

But what exactly are their tasks and deliverables?

UX Designers should base their work on 3 major aspects:

  • Why?
  • What?
  • How?

"Why" considers understanding the user's motivations for using the product or service.

The "What" takes into account what the user can do with the product, what its features are and which needs it solves.

Finally, the "How" aligns the product's features with the appropriate aesthetics for its use and good experience.

In this sense, the UX Design process consists of a few steps, which involve:

  • Research;
  • Definition and idealization;
  • Building prototypes;
  • User tests;
  • Implementation;
  • Continuous Improvement.

Within this process, the UX Designer works with:

Conducting Research

At this stage, the UX Designer promotes research to identify the scope of the project, user needs, and possible solutions to problems.

Defining Personas

Based on the research carried out, the UX Designer develops User Personas.

Personas represent users who use or will use a product or service. They do not simply define the brand's target audience but are more detailed and in-depth profiles.

Information Architecture development

In this step, the UX Designer works with the arrangement and hierarchy of information to organize the content in a logical way, focusing on the user experience.

When done efficiently, information architecture helps the user to find what they are looking for easily and quickly.

User Journey and Wireframes

The UX Designer is also responsible for designing the Journey the user will go through while interacting with a product.

In addition, developing wireframes — sketches of the interfaces — is also part of the UX Designer's responsibilities.

Prototyping

Prototypes are more streamlined versions of the final product and can be either high or low fidelity.

Prototyping is essential in the UX Design process for conducting usability tests with users.

Conducting Usability Tests

Finally, the UX Designer is also involved in usability tests, which aim to confirm how well the product performs and how successfully users can carry out their tasks. During the tests, designers can see what works and what doesn't and the features, buttons, micro-interactions, or other content that needs to be improved.

Possibilities for UX designers

As seen above, UX Design is complex and involves different skills.

However, the UX Designer does not necessarily participate in every process mentioned before. There are subfields of expertise within the entire development flow, such as:

  • UX Researcher;
  • Information Architect;
  • UI/UX developer;
  • Usability Analyst;
  • UX Writer;
  • Product Designer.

Each occupation has different responsibilities and skills within the UX Design process. In this sense, you have the possibility to improve yourself in the subarea that interests you most. Of course, only companies who have reached a good level of UX maturity hire these specialists.

UX Researcher

  • Conducts interviews, surveys, and tests;
  • Analyzes quantitative and qualitative results of research;
  • Develops personas and user journeys and helps on prototypes;
  • Presents survey results to team members and stakeholders.

Information Architecture

  • Analyzes information from survey results and user tests to understand their mental models;
  • Create sitemaps that illustrate how the content should be organized and classified;
  • Makes content inventory and content audits;
  • Define content hierarchy and navigation;
  • Helps create prototypes;

UX/UI Developer

  • Works with designers on ideas and identification of potential problems, focusing more on technological possibilities and limitations;
  • Develops graphical interfaces (codes);
  • Helps create mockups and prototypes;
  • Identifies technical difficulties with the user experience.

Usability Analyst

  • Works together with the research team, helping with usability tests;
  • Apply usability inspection methods;
  • Translate observations and insights into action plans;
  • Helps develop prototypes and wireframes;
  • Identifies usability problems and proposes solutions.

UX Writer

  • Works with the research team to better understand personas and their needs;
  • Writes simple and effective texts at all user interaction points to help them navigate and complete their tasks;
  • Understands how writing and interaction work together to build a coherent narrative in the user journey;
  • Defines voice and tone.

Product Designer

This is perhaps the most wanted professional by large companies.

If each of the above possibilities is responsible for a part of the process, the Product Designer is the one who can move from end to end in the project, having both UX Design and UI Design skills.

In addition, by working directly with the product—as the name implies—this professional needs to understand business and specific methodologies, such as Agile, Lean UX, and Design Thinking.

Despite these technical skills, it is also essential that all UX Designers improve their Soft Skills, such as:

  • Empathy;
  • Curiosity;
  • Teamwork;
  • Communication.

Is it worth pivoting into UX Design?

The truth is that the answer to this question depends.

Each one lives a different moment in life and must assess whether there are conditions to change careers or not.

However, we understand that there are some fundamental and universal concerns whenever we think about changing roles:

  • Is it a field that offers opportunities?
  • Are the salaries good?
  • Are people who work in the field satisfied? Would they recommend it?

So with that in mind, let's quickly go through these topics in order to provide you with more information so you can decide whether or not to pivot into UX Design.

Opportunities

Earlier in this article, we have already seen that the UX Design job market is still rising, and the prospects are good.

But to bring this data to reality, we can simply search on LinkedIn for UX Designer jobs worldwide.

.

As a result, 40.063 vacancies appeared for this position.

However, if we make a small change in the filter and search for Product Designers, we then have:

.

There are 113.839 vacancies found throughout the world.

Also, you can search for remote positions all over the world. After the 2020 Pandemic, many companies have joined the remote work mode, which has brought many opportunities for people from other countries.

.

Therefore, many companies are looking for UX and Product Designers, proving that the market is hot and, as we said, the trend is for opportunities to grow even more in the upcoming years.

About the salaries

Another question that raises many questions—in all careers—is financial gain.

Using the Glassdoor website, we can do some quick research regarding the average salary of UX Designers and Product Designers.

Of course, salary gains depend on the company and your experience. But having an idea of the average salary can help you decide if it's worth launching yourself on this path.

How satisfied are UX Designers?

Although UX Design can provide solid financial gain, it's not just the amount of money that makes it a great area to work.

In addition to the salary proposal, UX Design can be highly rewarding for professionals.

In fact, according to Measuring, the average satisfaction score for UX Designers is 72%, while the highest score in any profession is 86%.

Source: Measuring U.

In addition, another survey conducted by NN/g found that 69% of respondents feel satisfied with a UX design career.

UX Careers Report. Source: NN/g.

The interesting thing about this survey is that those who said they weren't satisfied didn't say the reason was out of unhappiness with the area itself, but because they were unhappy in the companies where they worked. Whether due to a lack of opportunity to grow or low UX maturity.

Reading tip: Why Is Empathy Essential For UX Design?

Comments from those who have pivoted to UX

See below the perspective from some of our students who have changed careers and now work with UX:

"The biggest difference, for me, is that UX is a more strategic area. While DA is more creative and deals with inspiration, UX is about research, data, metrics, and user-centered. It's useless to have an idea if it doesn't work. Or putting together a beautiful website if it's not functional for the public." — Joyce Almazan.

"[…]with UX/UI, I can really make a difference in a person's life. And always for the better. To solve problems and pain points. To know people's needs and be able to deliver the best for them." — Diogo Alvarez.

"The difference that marked me the most was working as a real team. The experience I had was with everyone working by themselves. But in UX is different, everyone is working together all the time, exchanging ideas and knowledge with each other." — Luka Vasconcelos.

How to start in UX Design?

Probably, the first thought that crosses your mind is that you should look for an academic institution that certifies you to work as a UX designer.

However, you don't need a degree to change careers and start a job in UX. Our founder Felipe Melo comments on the subject:

"…areas of design are buzzing with opportunities, such as User Experience and Interface Design. And for these fields, an academic background doesn't matter as much as having a deep knowledge of design methods and processes, besides a remarkable portfolio."

That said, another point remains: if you don't have a previous work experience in UX, how can you build a portfolio?

We suggest learning about the UX design process, choosing a specific case study, and showing how you would improve a particular feature; what would you do differently?

Then, it is essential to show what led you to those design decisions. Recruiters want to see the way your brain works, let's say. They want to know how you solve complex problems and build solutions to meet user needs.

Do I need to know how to code?

Another frequently asked question is if you need coding experience, and the answer is no. You don't have to know how to code, but it is good to understand it.

This debate is common in the UX community because although coding is not required, learning to code may grant you privileges and benefit your career. After all, knowing a bit about code can help you comprehend a developer's perspective.

Do I need to have a Design Background to Migrate to UX?

You can start studying UX Design with our articles, and of course, the web is your oyster to explore. We have also created the Bootcamp Master Interface Design (MID), a fully online course aimed at practical and theoretical learning of Product Design (UX, Research, and UI), which for now is not available in English yet.

If you are still in doubt about pivoting into UX Design, give these articles a read:

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