What is UX design, and why is it so popular right now? Is it a good career choice for someone who doesn't have a background in design?
If you’re considering a career shift and debating whether you should start learning UX design, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered. Here are a few resources to help you explore how UX design can provide a meaningful career option, the job prospects for a UX designer, as well as how the industry is estimated to change and grow in the coming years.
What Exactly is UX Design?
Don Norman, who coined the term “user experience” while he was working for Apple in the nineties, explains:
I invented the term because I thought human interface and usability were too narrow. I wanted to cover all aspects of the person’s experience with the system, including industrial design, graphics, the interface, the physical interaction, and the manual.
User Experience—UX—design is focused on solving problems for users in the product design process. It often involves analytical thinking, researching user personas and goals, user journey mapping, as well as designing the interface itself. Closely related to User Interface (UI) design, UX design is concerned with creating products that address and solve real problems for users.
Why is UX Design So Valuable to Companies?
When done well, UX design provides users with positive experiences that keep them engaged with a website, which in turn makes them more likely to become customers. UX is more than just appealing visuals – it creates a customer journey which encourages users to explore a product or click through web pages to, eventually, perform a desired outcome.
Having a website with a great user experience that delivers users what they want, when they want it, is crucial for all businesses with an online presence. Not only does it help attract new customers, but great UX design also encourages users to spend longer on a website and to purchase goods and services.
The rise in the use of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets for most activities has also led to high demand for UX jobs. These devices require organizations to provide a mobile friendly user experience. These devices allow users to multitask on the go – whether that is waiting in line, or in the back of a cab, or walking to an appointment. But it's not enough to create a basic mobile app and have it "work" for a business. Mobile app design comes with a suite of incredibly complex design problems that fall under the umbrella of UX design.
For businesses whose top priority is staying relevant in a mobile-first world, hiring a UX designer becomes a "must."
What is the Average Salary of a UX Designer?
The importance of UX design to online businesses carries over into the number of UX jobs available, as well as the salary of a typical UX or UI designer in the United States in 2022.
Glassdoor estimates that the average salary of a UX designer in the United States is now over $110,000, as companies battle to hire the best. Although the number of job vacancies vary by the day, there were 6,321 UX designer related job adverts on Glassdoor alone at the time of writing this article.
The UX design industry has grown at a rapid pace over the last few years, and we expect to see that demand continuing to rise. Businesses increasingly recognize that having apps and websites with an intuitive and functional user experience is not only crucial to their customers’ happiness and satisfaction; it’s also key to their company’s brand and profitability.
Since the commercial rewards of good UX design can be huge (and quantifiable), UX designers tend to attract very healthy salaries.
And the rewards don’t stop there. A career in UX design will also put you at the cutting edge of app and web design – a discipline that is constantly changing and innovating.
Is UX Design a Good Career Choice?
One of the weighing factors of a stable career is whether or not you can rely on the job to still be around in 5, 10, or 20 years. Fortunately, the future looks good for UX/UI designers. Not only is the position currently in very high demand, but the industry is projected to grow at a steady rate in the coming years.
One recent study found that 87% of managers and department heads said that recruiting more UX designers was their largest priority – with 73% also saying that they are actively looking to bring onboard new UX talent in the coming years.
Not only that, but UX design is an incredibly interesting occupation with plenty of room for growth and to exercise your creative and analytical skills.
7 Reasons to Learn UX Design
Why become a UX designer? Many people are unsure at first if studying UX design or being a UX designer is a good career choice for them. However, there are many great reasons beyond the healthy pay for pursuing a career in user experience. Here are eight further reasons why UX design is an exciting industry to be a part of.
1. Excellent Career Prospects and Opportunities
We've already touched on this, but not only does the average UX designer salary offer competitive compensation, but the career field is wide open for personal growth as well.
The variability of a UX role—which can involve anything from conducting user research and usability testing to prototyping, data analysis, and close collaboration with marketers and developers—means that you don't have to build an entire career off of a single talent. Some designers gravitate towards a generalist job as a designer, while others search instead for roles that are more specialized within user experience design.
2. You Will Design for a Greater Range of Touchpoints Than Ever Before
Gone are the days when a digital designer was limited to designing web page layouts (in HTML, no less). Now, a UX designer can work on everything from desktop to mobile apps, watch interfaces to a new range of more specialized technologies like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.
3. You Could Help Save Lives
UX design plays a huge role in every industry, and can truly mean the difference between life and death.
In clinical settings, good UX can (and already does) keep patients safe. The increased sophistication of medical devices creates an urgent need for doctors and nurses to be able to understand complex information in a quick and intuitive way (check out the T3 system, which collects high resolution clinical data in critical care settings, and allows clinicians to analyse the data in a web app). Good UX design in medicine reduces the need for interpretation, in turn cutting the likelihood of human error, and enabling staff to make better decisions.
4. You can help make technology accessible to everyone.
Advanced technology requiring complex human-machine interactions is becoming essential for even the most basic aspects of living.
While many users have adapted to this shift seamlessly—and even prefer conducting business online through options like online banking, grocery pickups, and paying energy bills—there is still a lot of work to be done in making these experiences accessible to everyone.
A UX designer's problem solving skills become even more valuable when they need to find a way to not only help the average user, but also identify and solve the usability difficulties that come with other demographics. Creating products that foster people’s independence, intelligence, and dignity, all require good UX design to function and be of benefit to the user.
5. You Can Shape the Future of Our Relationship With Technology
Technology continues to become more specialized, and each new device comes with a unique purpose. From Oculus to the latest Apple watch, the user experiences address vastly different needs and goals.
This ever-expanding playground provides great opportunity for UX designers to research, experiment, and innovate.
6. A Strong Contribution to the Overall Success of a Company
Good UX can mean the difference between happier customers, fewer complaints, more sales, fewer abandoned carts, and higher profits. What’s more, offering services that have been built with strong UX design also elevates customers’ perception of an entire brand.
In other words: the contributions you make as a UX designer can give worthy businesses a chance at competing, no matter how saturated the market is.
7. You Can Create More Enjoyable App Experiences
UX isn’t just for serious stuff – it also helps us to derive pleasure from the time we spend using technology. Snapchat (and those Spectacles) shows that in app design there is room for the silly and superfluous, so long as the product enhances people’s connections to one another, and helps us to find the delight in everyday technology.
How to become a UX designer (without going to design school)
Have you been thinking $110k sounds great, but how do I become a UX designer with no experience? Don’t I need to go to design school? Well, the short answer is "no."
In fact, the long answer is also "no."
As you would expect from a sector specializing in optimizing product experiences, there is now a range of online courses available, making it possible to become a UX designer without a degree, by learning the skills needed through another training route.
If you have no experience in UX, the first step to becoming a UX designer is to start your learning in the field before moving on to a more advanced qualification in user experience – such as UX Academy Foundations or Design 101.
Begin Your Career With An Intensive Mentor-led Course
Once you’ve mastered basic UX design skills, your next step towards training as a UX designer starts with a more advanced training course in user experience. Designlab offers an intensive UX Academy program to help you break through into UX design. Students work with expert mentors, selected for their design excellence and top-notch communication skills.
You can find more details about the course, including how to apply, over on the UX Academy page.
Looking for more resources on how to become a UX designer? Schedule a chat with our admissions department to learn more about how you can begin your career shift into UX design.