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Toward becoming a great UX designer

Explore the professional landscape: see the demand for UX designers, note the skills required to thrive, and flag possible career opportunities.
A photograph of a colourful air balloon floating against a cloudless blue sky by Aaron Burden.

Before we wrap up the course, let’s pull back and take a look at the professional landscape, specifically the current (and increasing) demand for UX designers, the skills required to thrive in the industry, and possible career opportunities.

The demand

There is, perhaps not surprisingly, increasing demand for UX skills across the globe, especially in regions such as North America, Europe, and Australia. According to their 2019 Product Design Hiring Report, InVision reported that ‘UI/UX Designer’ was the top-rated title, and recruiters contacted 81% and 34% of product designers every month and week respectively. [1]

What’s driving all those recruiters to keep checking in on their UX design contacts? The answer to that is important because it speaks to the expected longevity of the demand and the prospects of a high-value, long-term career path. InVision’s report continues:

The work that designers do is increasingly recognised not just for its aesthetic value, but for the proven business impact it has on an organisation, such as on a company’s product usability, customer satisfaction, revenue, cost savings, time to market, and much more. In fact, 92% of the most mature design organisations can draw a straight line from the efforts of their design team to their company’s revenue. [1]
So, not only is there increasing global demand for UX skills, but employers are increasingly recognising the value that people with these skills deliver to their organisations and customers. But what skills are required for UX and Product Designers to thrive?

The skills

Like many in-demand roles in the ever-evolving digital economy, the role and responsibilities of UX designers continue to change and adapt to the times. UX designers – like other creative professionals and knowledge workers today – are expected to reach beyond familiar creative and professional ways of working and be lifelong learners. More specifically, how you personally learn is becoming perhaps the only sustainable competitive advantage. Smart recruiters are now asking one key question: How do you learn?
The world and the workplace have changed. The skills we need to function and flourish have correspondingly changed, and so we need to bring them into a smarter, sharper focus to know what they are and to seek them out proactively, persistently, and methodically. – Marc Zao-Sanders, CEO and co-founder of filtered.com [2]

UX designers need to be able to continuously learn new skills, work in cross-functional teams, communicate effectively, and translate their ideas into business value and outcomes that satisfy a multitude of stakeholders.

With all that in mind, it should come as no surprise that UX designers need to possess both technical/creative skills and soft skills. However, the extent of the value placed on so-called soft skills may come as a surprise.

The following table captures the top in-demand skills in Product Design today.

Top soft skills Top hard skills
1. Collaboration/teamwork 1. UX design
2. Communication 2. User research
3. Empathy 3. UI design
4. Emotional intelligence 4. Information architecture
5. Presentation/public speaking skills 5. Design software proficiency
6. Leadership 6. Data analytics
7. Business operations 7. Coding

Source: InVision [1]

The career

In terms of job titles, UI/UX Designer and Product Designer are the most desirable and in-demand positions, but there are a number of other titles/positions that fall under the ‘product design’ umbrella that leverage the same, or similar, skillsets. UX writers and researchers, interaction and information designers, and service designers are all possible professions.

As with many roles, salary bands will vary by region, experience, and industry. With that in mind, there is region-specific data that we can use to gauge the average salary for UX designers. The Creative Group’s Creative and Marketing Salary Guide 2021, for example, provides insight into the salaries of digital design and production professionals in the US and Canada. In the US, UX Designers can expect a salary between US$75,750–US$148,000, while similar salaries in Canada range from CAD$72,750 (US$60,200)–CAD$110,500 (US$91,393). [3]

Importantly, geographic barriers to hiring talent are becoming less and less of an obstacle for both employers and employees as remote work and telecommuting become increasingly viable. UX design jobs are less restricted by geography than ever before.

UX Design Salaries research asked 3,743 UX designers from around the world how much they get paid. If you’re curious, click on the link below to explore their interactive world map and related statistics.

Read: UX Design Salaries [4]

It’s a truly exciting time for UX designers. The digital landscape is constantly shifting as technology develops at an ever-increasing rate. Whatever technological changes do emerge, there’s one thing that will always be fundamental: experiences. Expect to see an increasing demand for UX design skills wherever humans and technology are at work or play.

Besides the demand and possibility of working remotely, what’s the first advantage that comes to mind when thinking about this career? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

References

  1. Invision. 2019 Product Design Hiring Report [PDF]. Invasionapp; 2019. Available from: https://www.invisionapp.com/report-assets/hiring-report.pdf
  2. Sanders MZ. Identify – and Hire – Lifelong Learners [Internet]; Harvard Business review; 2021 May 13. Available from https://hbr.org/2021/05/identify-and-hire-lifelong-learners?utm_campaign=hbr&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin
  3. The Creative Group. Creative & marketing salary guide [Internet]. A Robert Half Company; 2021. Available from: https://www.roberthalf.com/sites/default/files/[…]Salary_Guide_Sep2020
  4. UX Design Salaries. Global average UX salaries by country [Internet] UX Design Salaries; [Date unknown]. Available from: https://uxdesignersalaries.com/#
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Introduction to UX Design

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