by Jenny Darmody
21 Jan 2022
Want to become a great UX designer? These tips will help you grow in your career and help you stand out in future job interviews.
User experience, or UX, design is becoming more important all the time. From the start of the pandemic, online activity soared and many businesses that had never had a strong digital presence had to fully pivot. This meant that the professionals who design user-friendly apps, websites and digital services became crucial.
UX design is a growing space in Ireland and in 2021 UX design companies such as Each&Other and Lucky Beard said they were expanding in the country and looking to hire design talent.
But outside of the technical skills required for a role in this area, what do you need to know to go from a good UX designer to a great one? How can you present yourself in the best possible way and stand out from the crowd?
Here are seven tips.
As with all careers, one of the most important parts of being successful is continuous learning. As a UX designer, you will always be working towards the goals of your client or your employer. But in order to push yourself, it’s important to set your own personal goals to help you upskill.
Outside of your required work, make sure you’re flexing your creative muscles by challenging yourself to do something completely different.
While it’s good to be more of a generalist early on in your UX career, it’s also a good idea to focus on a specific area of expertise to set yourself apart from others.
Find a particular strength or passion and work towards being an expert in that area, be it in voice user interfaces, mobile design, UX writing or motion design.
One of the most important parts of UX design is that it is user-friendly to all. Inclusive design is extremely important and accessibility should be baked into product and app design from the beginning. Lucky Beard’s Elaine Devereux recently told SiliconRepublic.com that her company is looking to hire designers with a “strong sensibility around ethics” and who “understand the importance of designing for good”.
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In order to stand out as a UX designer, make sure you’re knowledgeable on all elements of accessible, ethical and inclusive design, and make sure you can demonstrate that in your portfolio.
Design can often be subjective. Sure, there are some objectively good and bad UX decisions. But for everything else, there will always be a certain number of differing opinions.
This is why it’s always important to know why you made a particular design choice and to be able to explain that why with confidence. When it comes to job interviews, being able to explain your ‘whys’ when going through your portfolio will not only showcase how you work as UX designer, but it will highlight your communication and problem-solving skills.
While UX design should look attractive, it’s important not to lose sight of the UX part of your job. Your role is to take the user on a journey. After all, if your beautiful piece of work does not effectively communicate what it’s supposed to, then you haven’t done your job.
Before you launch into your visual ideas, become familiar with the message or story a certain brand or client is trying to convey. Then, map that out on storyboards to ensure the message stays threaded throughout.
For many UX designers, perfectionism is in their nature and it can be extremely hard to let go of that mindset. You might think that striving for perfection will make you a better UX designer.
But a 90pc perfect job in your eyes is better than a 100pc perfect job that may never get done – because perfection is so rarely achievable. It is a much stronger trait to be able to know when to put something to bed and deliver a quality project on time.
Outside of your work and your own design projects, make sure you allow yourself the time and space to think, brainstorm and be creative.
This doesn’t mean trying to think of even more creative design projects. In fact, you should take yourself away from your work altogether. Go for a walk, doodle, browse the internet. The key is to leave space for your brain to be free to get inspired.
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Related: UX designers, working life, skills
Jenny Darmody became the deputy editor of Silicon Republic in 2020, having worked as the careers editor until June 2019. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.
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