UX Designers: who are they, what do they do, and how much do they earn?
The profession of a UX Designer has quickly become one of the most sought-after positions in the world of technology. This is not that surprising. The various creative skills needed, the high degree of flexibility in project planning and last, but not least, the lucrative salary all make this role very rewarding.
The question of why you should embark on this career is thus answered quickly. The “how”, however, is not so simple. But don’t worry: We have set out below the essential information you need to launch yourself successfully into the world of UX Designers.
What exactly is a UX Designer?
UX Designers are responsible for User Experience. They ensure that the experience of a product is tailored to its application. Their task is to design a user interface that allows the user to explore a product from start to finish.
To do this UX Designers use a wide variety of programs such as Photoshop, Sketch and Illustrator to create storyboards, wireframes, mockups and sitemaps and they verify the outcome with real users.
What is the difference between UX Design and UI Design?
UX Design and UI Design are closely related and they are often grouped together a single work stream in some companies. They are indeed overlapping processes, but there are still differences. While UX Designers focus on the user experience, i.e. the user’s interaction with the various product interfaces, the focus of UI Designers is on the user’s interaction with the visual features and components of the product.
Let’s consider, for example, their roles in designing a car. UX Designers must ensure that the overall driving experience – visibility, seating, driving and parking – is positive for the user and, therefore, logical, intuitive and enjoyable. The UI Designer, on the other hand, ensures that there is seamless interaction between driver and vehicle, that each button has an understandable icon and that features are compatible with each other and so on.
What are the attributes of a great UX Designer?
UX Designers often come from a wide variety of backgrounds, however, there are some qualities that are an asset in this profession:
A real fascination for design and the way things work are prerequisites to be able to successfully design a product.
To design great products, you have to understand the desires and potential frustrations of users. Only those who are able to understand the product’s real requirements will be able to produce something that is satisfactory.
The UX Designer always works in close collaboration with different departments, users, programmers, managers and stakeholders. In addition, it is necessary to be able to capture and absorb specific feedback from all the above-mentioned parties.
Spirit of initiative
You need to master many skills and be able to work independently in various disciplines. By doing this, you will create your own personal portfolio as a UX Designer that will facilitate your entry into this profession.
Enthusiasm for technology
The ways that products can be experienced is constantly growing. Only those who are really interested in technology and who always keep up to date with the latest developments will find their vocation in this profession.
If you feel that you have all the skills we have just described, then you have the right qualities to be able to enjoy a long and successful career.
How much does a UX Designer earn?
In Italy, the average annual salary of a UX Designer is €34,765 and this is very high if compared to the industry as a whole. In other European countries, the earning potential is equally good. The average annual income of a UX Designer is:
- € 48,118 in Austria
- € 36,261 in Spain
- € 55,795 in Ireland
- € 62,853 in Denmark
If you would like to work as a UX Designer in other countries, you can find out more about current prospective salaries here.
How do I become a UX Designer?
In recent months there has been a dramatic increase in interest in the training required to become a UX Designer and also in the work of a UX Designer. Most of the interest comes from graduates in technical studies and graphic designers, who want to give a boost to their careers, but also from those who work in the creative departments of the advertising industry. The good news is that the demand for UX Designer is extremely high right now.
However, if you are starting your career in this field with little or no experience, it will be difficult. Even companies desperate to find a UX Designer prefer candidates who have the necessary skills and a significant portfolio of UX Design projects. What can you do?
1. Read and learn
Learn about User Experience, chat with experts, listen to relevant podcasts and above all: Read!
The Design of Everday Things
This book by Don Norman, former director of the Institute of Cognitive Sciences at the University of California, provides information on how and why some products thrill your customers, while others leave them frustrated. It’s not just about designing computers and software, but also about ordinary things, likes chairs and tables. After reading it you will have a completely different perspective on the design of all those things that are around you every day.
Smashing UX Design
This is a highly regarded and highly recommended User Experience reference manual. It provides a detailed overview of the 16 most commonly used user experience research and design tools. It has a collection of case studies of real-life projects explaining why some techniques were used in certain circumstances.
Don’t Make Me Think
This book by information architect and user experience professional, Steve Krug, was hailed as a “classic” in 2000 and it is still considered one of the most important books on web usability. Other UX Design books have been written based on this book, rather convincing proof of its validity. Since then, Krug has published a second edition and also an update entitled “Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited”.
There are many other books to read about user experience design but to get started we recommend these three classics. In addition to books, there is also an endless collection of UX Designer blogs, podcasts and articles that you can browse during your free time.
2. Find an experienced mentor
As you progress you will constantly have questions about UX Design, so it is absolutely essential to have an experienced mentor. But where can you find such a person?
First, you should aim to become part of the UX Designer community. Search meetup.com for local UX events and make initial contacts. Even the most experienced designers had to start somewhere. Don’t be afraid to start a conversation and ask for advice.
This Thread on Quora also has some good advice about UX Design mentors. If you are a bit shy or are familiar with online hangouts, read SUX Community.
3. Learn about the most important tools
Mockup, prototyping, wireframe, responsive web design, and more – an extensive software knowledge is fundamental for your success as a UX Designer. Here we provide a brief overview of the main User Experience tools.
Wireframesketcher is a wireframe tool that can be used together with designers, developers and product managers to create wireframes, mockups, prototypes for desktop, web and mobile applications. It is a desktop application and plug-in for any IDE Eclipse.
InVision is the world’s most popular prototyping tool. On the InVision project management page, you can organise your design components in a Workflow Status. You can define columns for tasks and using the drag-and-drop feature you can drag and drop design components into the corresponding column. You can work with different file types including JPG, PNG, GIF, AI and PSD. InVision also has push-and-pull integrations for applications such as Slack, Dropbox, Box, Trello, JIRA and many others.
Adobe Experience Design
With Adobe XD you can create, reuse and remix vector graphics and pictures to create wireframes, screen layouts, interactive prototypes and ready-made features in the same app. A great advantage is the ability to integrate other Adobe products, such as Photoshop or After Effects.
Sketch is in many ways similar to Photoshop, but it also has some very handy features. Sketch’s vector shapes can be easily adapted to changes in styles, sizes and layouts which saves you a lot of time by not having to make manual adjustments. Sketch’s fully vector-based workflow makes it easy to create beautiful, high-quality designs from start to finish.
Dribbble describes itself as the home of the best designers in the world and offers an almost endless selection of creative displays and visual design options.
4. Start your training
A good UX Design course equips you with the main concepts, tools and skills used in UX Design and allows you to experience the work in a real-life environment. The Talent Garden Innovation School in Vienna offers the following innovative Online Courses:
The course combines lectures by experienced practitioners with hands-on workshops and project work. Here you will learn how to create design processes, perform user research to properly assess customer needs, and finally create tailor-made user experiences. In addition, you will learn to recognize possible problems and to bring about creative solutions. After the course, you’ll have the skills and expertise you need to help ensure smooth, easy-to-use and aesthetically pleasing user experience for future customers.
Classes will be held in English, preparing students for an international career. In addition, the course is limited to a maximum of 20 people, which allows to respond individually to the needs of students.