What is a UX Designer?
UX stands for User Experience. Have you ever looked at a website and wondered if made sense, if it is aesthetically pleasing, or if it is easy to use? If yes, you are considering the same things that a User Experience Designer considers.
The job title is pretty self-explanatory, a UX Designer pays attention to the user’s experience! As a slightly more in depth answer, UX designers are responsible for the analytical side of web design. You do the research, the testing, and the prototyping for the site. Then you look at the response it gets from the users and adjust the website accordingly.
Your concern lies with the process of development and improvement for the best possible user experience. You want to make sure the client is happy with the website, while also making sure the end users are happy with the website as well. A “win-win” situation would obviously be complete satisfaction on both sides.
You should look at the aesthetic, the feel of the website. Not just what it looks like visually, but how it affects the usability of the site. This job requires a real people person, someone who enjoys interacting with customers and clients.
What does a UX Designer really do?
Have you ever been on a website or an app when all of a sudden a popup “pops up” and asks you “How do you like our app?” or “Would you want to take a survey to improve our website”? If the answer is yes, you have experienced it. You are seeing the research side of a UX Designer. It is essential for UX designers to receive this feedback so that they can improve the usability of the site for the users.
When a company gives a project to the UX Designer, their first job is to conduct research. They do this both technically speaking and through field research. They create and decide on the core features that will go into the website, otherwise known as the “minimum viable product”. If we, as users, saw the site at this stage, we would be less than thrilled.
We would see the content, the sitemap, and the layout, but there would be no graphic design, color schemes, or fancy fonts. No final choices will have been made at this point, but they can get an idea of what they want to see when it’s all put together even as a trial.
Typically, they will first create a paper prototype and follow it with a Wireframe prototype for testing with real users. With the user feedback, the UX designer will look at the functionality of the site as well as the aesthetic. They’ll receive the users’ feedback and make the appropriate adjustments accordingly.
How to become a UX Designer
Amazingly, it is not necessary to commit to a 4-year college for this career path. With that being said, of course, it would never hurt to have a degree! In fact, having one will probably increase your yearly earnings.
On linkedin.com, Lindsay Norman walks us through a list of things we can do to become a UX designer without any knowledge of the job. It is heavily encouraged to read articles about the process and to learn the commonly used program, Sketch.
You can also take available online courses to expand your knowledge about UX Design and really get into detail with it. Here is a link to a website that has a fully compiled list of courses, ranging from free to not so free.
And most importantly, get experience and start a portfolio! You can gain this through creating fake websites or even freelancing. I have included some links below to some great freelance websites.
What is the salary for a UX Designer?
Like any other job, the salary for a UX Designer varies with experience, skill sets, and the employer. According to payscale.com, the range of salaries can vary from around $47,000 all the way up to about $107,000. On average, the typical UX Designer earns about $72,000 a year.
What is the difference between a UX Designer and an Information Architect?
A User Experience Designer focuses on creating the best user experience possible. They look at what would make the website easier for the user. Then they create wireframes and prototypes based on research done by them earlier in the process. Basically, their priority is the customer’s satisfaction with how the site looks.
An Information Architect focuses entirely on how content is organized and on how it would be easier for the user to get from one page to another. If a UX Designer finds a problem with the user’s navigation through a page, it would be an Information Architect’s responsibility to fix it.