User experience is the crux of product design, whether the product is a website, an app or something entirely different.
It’s an industry that involves knowledge and skills across many different fields. From graphic design and a creative streak to research abilities and communication skills and even human psychology.
We have compiled a list of 10 key things every UX designer – practising or aspiring – should know to achieve great UX design.
1. Learn the basics from books.
Try and read and learn as much about UX design as you can. Invest in reading materials. Follow industry blogs. Put the research in. This will help you build a solid foundation for your practical skills. Here’s a few books we recommend adding to your basket to get a head start:
- – The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
- – The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters
- – 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People by Susan Weinschenk
- – About Face: The Essentials of interaction Design by Alan Cooper.
2. UX makes you a more well-rounded creator.
As a discipline, UX design is a combination of methods and tools that allow designers to solve real problems and craft functional, reliable, and enjoyable products. It combines research, ideation, prototyping and testing; not to mention, going through the process will see a designer pick up a lot of additional skills, too. The UX design process integrates empathy, communication, and UI design and by developing these skills, it will not only benefit UX projects, but any creative work.
3. See the world through a UX lens.
As a UX designer, your goal should be to make your product most specific to your audience and with that it means tailoring it down to the finest detail – something which we encounter regularly in our everyday lives.
Most elements of our lives are designed strategically for our experience. Restaurants will change their music and dim the lights for the experience of their evening customers. Mugs and glasses have been crafted so the average human hand will fit through the handle without struggle. Brands use popular TikTok songs behind a promotional video to attract their targeted audience.
All these things tailor to the experience of their users and that is the same as when you’re designing for people. Life offers an abundance of inspiration for designers once you start analysing everyday experiences through a UX lens.
4. Empathy will be your superpower.
It should come as no surprise that one of the most important factors you should consider when designing a product is the audience. In a world where the job is to solve the user’s problem, enhance user satisfaction and provide a good user experience, empathy is a skill that is vital to have. It all boils down to getting to know your users, experience their problems as if they were your own and using this empathy to make smart design decisions that will benefit them.
5. Stick to your niche and master it.
While it’s good to try your hand in a bit of everything early on in your career, you don’t need to do everything. Once you’ve gained a broad knowledge of the basics, identify what you’re good at and focus on mastering it. By trying to perfect every element of UX, it adds an unnecessary pressure and can deflate your focus and passion in the industry. Find your niche and be great at it.
6. UX design isn’t too dissimilar from a sitcom.
It isn’t just restaurants, retail and outdoor experiences that have been designed to optimise our user experience; TV and film also involve a similar process and sitcoms are a great example. Stay with us. In each episode of a sitcom – F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Arrested Development, The Office – the show will centre around a certain problem or objective and the audience will be taken on a journey before the show closes with the solution – and that’s exactly what UX designers do. Designers take the problem from the client or brief; they’ll then go through the journey of research and production, before finding the solution at the end.
7. Go beyond design to learn.
UX is an extremely varied discipline, combining aspects of design, technology, research, business, market and even psychology, so it is important that if you’re wanting to be a great designer, you should draw from the various fields it incorporates. Find areas beyond design that interest you and develop your knowledge on them. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to make connections to your design work.
8. The best apps are the ones that tell you the least.
To design products that offer great UX design, you must be able to identify what good and bad design actually looks like, and analysing apps is a great resource to practise this. The hallmark of a great user interface is simplicity and consistency. Users shouldn’t need to read instructions to understand how to use an app. The best apps are the ones that tell you the least, but because of their familiarity are recognisable even for brand new users.
Good examples of UX done right, in our opinion, are:
- – Google. Who have mastered the art of keeping it simple.
- – Netflix. Famous for its mass UX research, and it shows.
- – Air BnB. It makes all our hours of holiday browsing that bit simpler.
9. You don’t need to have a creative background.
Sure, it helps, UX technically falls under the creative field, but a background in design is not a necessity to be a great UX designer. There is a whole host of transferable qualities and skills that can be applied to a career in UX design. Some of the best designers evolve from having excellent people skills, others climb the ladder from their analytical backgrounds. The main thing you need is the ability to know how to frame and leverage your existing experience to enhance your work as a UX designer, the rest can be learnt!
10. You’re never finished learning.
Whether you apply this to your projects or your general knowledge of UX, there is always room for growth and always something new to learn. UX incorporates multiple fields, meaning there is always a new lane to branch off into and explore.
Understanding the ins and outs of why customers come to your website or app is an ongoing process, too. It pays to take the time to improve your products continuously.
The great thing about UX design is learning can take place outside of the traditional methods. As we mentioned earlier, much of our lives have been strategically crafted to meet a user experience goal, that means whether you’re shopping online, watching a film on Netflix, or listening to podcasts on Spotify, you can always be exploring UX.
If you’re a UX Designer and have more tips to share, let us know!