“Can you make it look nice?” is something that’s commonly asked of a UX designer. It’s absolutely fine to expect UX designers to be good interface designers. But that’s not their primary purpose. There are a few skills that every UX designer must possess. These are the ones that are “expected” of them, but aren’t often spoken much about.
These skills come in handy when you’re trying to make your product meaningful - and of course, successful.
Here’s a list of some of the UX skills that’ll make the maximum impact on your product.
1. High level of Observation
Visual designers tend to browse through Dribbble or behance when looking for inspiration. But as a UX designer, your biggest source of inspiration will be the real world around you. Nature will be your biggest teacher. The natural movements, rhythm, balance and harmony existing in the environment around you can give you insight into how humans behave. Even in your daily life, if you closely observe how people around you act, it can add a lot of value.
Having this natural curiosity of observing things around you will always help you in making impactful decisions.
Here’s where you learn lessons that cannot be found in any of the design textbooks.
2. Clearly defining problem statement
“Well begun is half done”. It can’t be more accurate in UX design.
At the beginning of all the projects, you have to really understand the problem deeply. Designers are problem solvers, at the end of the day. So, when you understand the problem really well, it is observed that your design is almost half done.
This stage in the design process, where you understand the problem and goals of all stakeholders lays the foundation for all the future stages. If you go wrong here, it’s almost impossible to retract it. That’s why before jumping into solving the problem, you need to spend a lot of time in understanding the problems, objectives and vision for the solution. Those who understand the problem well, usually end up creating the most impactful designs.
3. Having a signature design strength
Every good UX designer has a unique design process. Starting from conception to implementation and all the way to evaluation. Though, you need to have a good grasp over all the design skills, it’s common to find a designer having a signature strength.
This would enable you to have your designs work around a central point. For example, there are designers who approach a design problem from the point of technology. At first, they look at the features and functionalities that can be accomodated to their designs. There are other designers whose signature strength lies in latest visual design trends. They may tackle problem solving from the point of view of design trends.
4. Ability to make High Fidelity prototypes
It’s imperative for every UX designer to have the ability to make high fidelity prototypes. They must be able to work on Photoshop or any other equivalent. You may have plenty of ideas in your head. But, if you cannot display it onto a screen, it’ll always remain in your head.
You can design world class products only when you can visually express what you’ve conceptualised. Sketching on a piece of paper or low fidelity prototypes will not be enough. You’ll need to be able to visually express the finer details, to be able to make high quality designs.
This is one of the skills that isn’t mandatory, but highly preferred.
A software project is a collective effort. Developers, testers, managers and the entire team have a stake in the project. So, it is important to be able to communicate your designs to everyone. Most of the great designers can clearly present the details and rationale behind their designs.
Especially when there are elements in your design that cannot be understood from just your screens and documentation, you may have to explain it to your team. When you can present well, there are higher chances that your developers and product team can implement them well.
6. Continuous learning
The pace of technological improvement has been tremendous over the years. There have been several interfaces that users have been in touch with, including rotary dial phones, feature phones, smartphones and now the latest gadgets. It is imperative for designers to understand and get used to working with these latest gadgets and interfaces to be ready for designing in the future.
Play around with smartwatches, AR, VR and all the new media devices so that you get used to the native gestures. This ability to continuously learn along with the pace of technological development is critical to be able to make experiential designs.
7. Rooted in Experience Design
Experience design is about the user's feeling. It’s all about understanding what users really want to achieve from the product. Rather than making the most attractive interface, focus should be on optimising user’s overall experience with the product.
You need to consider all the user touchpoints and ensure that users have a delightful experience. When your users have a good feeling at the end of their journey, that’s when you’ll know that you have built a meaningful experience. That’s what you should aspire for. That’s also where the line between UX designers and UI designers are drawn. While UI designers focus on how the users will act in the product, UX designers focus on how the users will feel about it
These are some of the skills that are found among several of the leading designers. Mastering UX is not about knowing its and bits of every skill. It’s about going deep into the skills that really make the impact.