UX design is a rewarding field that bridges the gap between creative problem solving and practical application. That said, the competitive landscape means that UX designers need to possess and continually refine a wide range of skills if they want to have a successful career.
From research and user testing, to design thinking and prototyping, UX designers must continually update and refine their skill sets.
In this article, we're taking a look at 10 of the most important skills for any aspiring UX designer to have. We'll also share some tips on how to improve these skills and showcase them during the interview process.
Read on to learn more, or use the links below to skip to sections most relevant to you:
- Important Hard Skills for UX Designers
- Important Soft Skills for UX Designers
- How to Improve In-Demand UX Design Skills
- Tips to Showcase Your UX Skills During the Interview Process
- Key Takeaways
Important Hard Skills for UX Designers
Hard skills refer to your mastery of the specific tools, techniques, and processes you use in your day-to-day work as a UX designer. These skills are measurable and can often be evaluated during a portfolio review, a whiteboard challenge, or other design assessment.
As a UX designer, some of the most important hard skills you need are:
1. Visual and UI Design Skills
UI design focuses on the visual elements of product interfaces, and includes everything from color palettes and typography to fine-tuning the layout and overall aesthetic.
In order to create impactful designs, UX designers need a baseline of visual and user interface (UI) design skills.
There are two main reasons for this:
First, because many UX design roles include a UI design facet. In addition to researching and wireframing digital interfaces, many (if not all) UX roles are expected to also be able to contribute meaningfully towards the visual design of the elements.
Secondly, it can be difficult to translate your UX expertise during job interviews—and to future teammates when presenting your work—if you lack a foundational understanding of visual design principles. If your work looks and feels like an amateur designed it, it will be very challenging to get the support you need to land that job in the first place.
As a UX designer, you can use visual design knowledge to create visually appealing products that are easy and enjoyable to use, reduce cognitive load, and establish consistency within the visual elements of the product.
Learn more: What's The Difference Between UX and UI Design?
2. User Research and Analysis
User research includes gathering data through user interviews, surveys, and other methods. It also involves analyzing this data to identify trends or patterns in user behavior.
Research skills are essential for a UX designer because they allow the designer to understand user needs and develop designs that reflect those needs.
- Focus groups
- Usability testing
Learn more: 6 User Research Methods & When To Use Them
3. Organizing Information (Information Architecture)
UX designers need to be able to prioritize and organize complex sets of information.
Information architecture (IA) provides structure to the content and information within a digital product. Through site structure, menus, labels, and search functionality, it aims to make each piece of information easily accessible for users who need it to complete their tasks.
When creating digital products, UX designers need to be in control of information—both from a project management perspective, and from a product design perspective. Understanding how to organize information is what makes the difference between intuitive navigation and a confusing, frustrating experience.
Well-designed information architecture creates a highly accessible, easy-to-use product.
Learn More: Guide to Information Architecture in UX Design
UX designers need both high-fidelity and low-fidelity wireframing skills.
Wireframes are rough sketches or outlined versions of screen designs. They are important in UX design, because they allow us to explore possible design solutions without investing lots of time and effort in fine details.
Wireframes are used throughout digital design projects. Low-fidelity wireframes might be used in the early stages of ideation, when rough ideas are being explored and prototypes. High-fidelity wireframes (which are closer to the final design) are often used later in a project, before adding visual polish. However, they can be used at any stage to problem-solve or aid discussion.
Learn More: What Is a Wireframe?
UX designers need to create prototypes and lead user testing.
A prototype is an early, working sample of a product. In UX design, its main purpose is to test the product and gather feedback from users. You can take the data from this round of UX testing to improve and validate the designs, before investing further time and resources into creating the final product.
UX designers are often responsible for creating low fidelity prototypes of product concepts, which are then tested with user groups. Later in the process, once the high-fidelity visual and UI design work has been done, UX designers will lead the prototyping and testing of high-fidelity designs, gathering detailed user feedback on the product experience.
Learn more: The Best Prototyping Tools for UX/UI Designers