How To Be A UX Designer
An excellent UX or UI designer is always in demand. Companies are constantly on the lookout for digital designers who get it: They know how a product should feel (UX), as well as how the product should be laid out (UI).
Nabbing one of these coveted positions requires more than a relevant degree or extensive prior experience. It’s also crucial that applicants can show their thought process, are collaborative, have a diverse portfolio, and understand the user experience.
“Design is one of the most in-demand jobs,” says Bobby Ghoshal, senior director of digital experience at WeWork. “There is a very small pool of great designers in the world, so it’s very difficult to hire for that role.”
How To Get Into UI Design
Do you want to work as a UX or UI designer? Here are some things to keep in mind as you look for your dream job.
The title isn’t always the same
According to Meredith Blumenstock, a user research and user experience designer based out of WeWork in NoMad, if you’re looking for a job in UX/UI, companies won’t always call the positions by those two names.
“In an interdisciplinary field such as design, folks come from so many different backgrounds and professional experiences that it is difficult to encapsulate roles into a single, well-defined title,” says Blumenstock. “There’s nuance regarding how we define ourselves and how organizations define their hiring needs.”
Some titles that she’s seen for UI/UX job listings include user experience architect, experience designer, user researcher, visual designer, information architect, user interface designer, and human factors engineer.
You must be driven to please your clients
Matt Olpinski, a Rochester, New York-based UX/UI designer, says that a person in his field has to posses the “ability to understand the clients’ needs and deliver a product that solves the underlying problem.”
“Many clients start the conversation with ‘My company needs a new website’ or ‘My startup needs an app designed,’” says Olpinski. “A great UX/UI designer will be able to communicate effectively, getting to the root of the problem—for example, the company needs more sales, or the startup needs more users—and be able to design the products or solutions accordingly.”
At Mentor, a company based out of WeWork’s South Lake union space in Seattle, UX/UI designers start off every day by hopping on phone calls with their clients.
“They have a morning call to check on the status of everything they’re working on,” says Aaron Shurts, co-founder and creative director. “We like our designers to be client-focused and high-touch.”
You need to show your thought process
UX/UI designers must be able to demonstrate, step by step, how they came up with their designs. Oleg Kogan, a tech entrepreneur at The Look & Feel, says the company takes into account “the way a designer thinks.”
“This includes how he finds the solution, how he does the research, what questions he asks, how he makes decisions, and the flow of his thinking process,” Kogan says. “That is extremely important. Great design is created by people with the right mindset and right approach to problem solving.”
Shurts says he observes his designers’ processes and then asks them questions.
“If it was a new company starting out and they had no branding, we ask, ‘What role did you play in [branding them]?’ If it’s an existing company, what did you do to understand them? How is your research reflected in the design of the product itself?”
You should have a range of work
Ghoshal says that he hires UX/UI designers who are self-motivated. “Initiative is huge,” he says. “The candidates that take initiative and do free work online for people, just to have a body of work, go a long way.”
According to Shurts, having a varied portfolio is key as well.
“Showing a range of ability in a portfolio is always important,” he says. “Even if you were at a company for three years and you were working for the same client for all three years, is your work generally all the same, or do you have a range of work that you’ve done? Ultimately, we do client services, so working with a broad range of clients with different needs means you need to be multi-faceted in your discipline.”
You have the background, the talent, and the experience. Now it’s time to go out and find the position you want.
“The tech industry is still hiring the most UX/UI designers, but many other industries aren’t far behind,” says Olpinski. “The need for great UX/UI design is more pronounced than ever before.”