If you are a UX Designer or you are considering a career as one it pays to think about the skills that are needed to be a really good one.
Design is increasingly at the heart of what the world’s biggest tech organisations do. Apple, Facebook and Square for example have famously employed a design centric approach that sets them apart from the competition, making this a growth area for recruitment. So it’s official, utilising top design talent for hardware, software and service development helps companies to grow faster!
So what makes good talent stand out in this competitive area and what skills should job seekers develop to become the best at what they do? We’ve compiled some of our top tips below for existing and aspiring UX Design professionals.
1. Understand the User
It’s fairly obvious that without this approach, UX Designers aren’t going to successfully help clients with their business problem. It’s the leg-work at this stage that will help to create the best solutions, not to mention cut time taken for the approval process at the end stage of the project.
For tailor made design solutions you need a thorough understanding of your client’s customer base and the customer persona’s within it. The research you do at this point is critical. Ask yourself what the age, gender, location and household income of the user might be and it immediately changes how you think about layout, design and interactive site elements.
It’s always helpful to consider user behaviour as well as the more practical issues such as what operating system and browser they use. There are also lots of tools and services out there to give you a really comprehensive view of user behaviour and help you collate valuable data. Organisations such as whatusersdo.com for example offer remote user experience testing which gathers information as real users navigate your site.
Shallow as it is, if it doesn’t look nice, even the best functionality will be overlooked. Intuitive design that is a joy to look at and a pleasure to navigate is as important as the information housed within the site. Always check what competitors are doing – if only to consider what your client could do better but ask yourself does the design make sense in the client’s industry? Are there at least elements that are identifiable to your target audience?
An ongoing study at Stanford University recently took a sample of 2500+ participants and investigated how they evaluate the credibility of websites. The findings prove the importance of visual design: “Nearly half of all consumers (or 46.1%) in the study assessed the credibility of sites based in part on the appeal of the overall visual design of a site, including layout, typography, font size and colour schemes.
3. Test and Test Again
Love it or loathe it, the beta phase of your site is an important and tentative stage of your work. Invite some industry professionals to user test the site or if you are part of a large in-house team, identify a test group within the business, invite feedback and observe how they navigate your site to get a sense of how intuitive your design is.
Flow mapping or user flow are also important indicators for design. What area of the site is the user navigating to first? What part of the site are the visiting repeatedly? Gathering this info allows UX designers to custom target with their work. There are lots of organisations that specialise in heat-mapping and eye tracking such as crazyegg.com or eyetracking.com.
Are you a UX Designer? What other skills do you think are essential to the job? Leave a comment below or tweet them to us @HeadResourcing