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What Skills Do You Need To Be An UX Designer?

Author: Carl Heaton
He is our senior instructor and originally from Manchester UK. Carl teaches our Web Design and Online Marketing Courses.
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Skills of an UI designer, you mean? No, UX design is different.

User Experience Design is the formal term used to describe UX DesignUI Design, on the other hand, stands for User Interface Design. These two elements need to work closely together and are crucial to any product that can be interacted with, for example, a website. These two concepts are quite different, even when we understand that there is an ongoing professional relationship between them. Both terms refer to separate parts of the design and the process discipline. UI Design tends to refer to what we know as graphic design, while UX Design refers to a more technical and analytical field. Here are the UX design skills you need to be successful.


UI movement



UX Design remains as a concept that works in multiple dimensions as well as disciplines. You could be looking at things such as human-computer interaction, usability, visual design, information architecture, and interaction design.

If you are looking at UX design skills from a business perspective, the goal would be to improve customer loyalty and satisfaction through the pleasure, ease of use and utility provided in the interaction with an end-product.

Now that you have gained a basic understanding of what UX design is, do you know what does it take to become a UX designer?

1. UX Design Skills – Perform Rapid Prototyping

Why is rapid prototyping a needed skillset in every UX designer’s arsenal? Well, new versions of software tend to be released every few years (in the past). Today, these updates are released on a monthly or weekly or even daily basis.

UX designers need to keep up with the increasingly rapid pace of technology, especially when they need to evaluate and iterate their designs.

To do this, they require a prototype. A rapid prototype can be a simple one in paper format or a more elaborate one which is coded. You have to note that UX design is all about interactions. So rather than relying on traditional visuals, you need something more substantial (a prototype) that can be better communicated and evaluated.

2. UX Design Skills – Ability to Do Wireframing

Responsive web designs are becoming increasingly popular. That’s why wireframing has also become an essential skill for any budding UX designer. This is an important skill that enables you to create the information hierarchy of your web design.

In addition, you will find that it’s easier to create a website that has features that appear in a more logical and usable on any device.

UX Design skills

Oftentimes, professional UX designers also use wireframing to keep the project’s purpose in focus. The influx of concepts and ideas during the web design process can be pretty chaotic and overwhelming!

3. UX Design Skills – Facilitate Service Design

This form of design is commonly understood as the activity of organizing and planning material components, communication, infrastructure and people of a certain service in hopes to improve the quality of interaction between customers and service providers. In other words, great service designs equate to delivering great services to your users.

However, you should not overly concern yourself with the UX side of things. It is highly recommended that you look at the bigger picture in order to create solid UX designs. Even the best one fails if other ‘pieces of the service puzzle’ are not properly set in place.

As a UX designer, you need to look at the end user’s journey; ensuring you are able to use service design techniques and tools like customer experience mapping to effectively ‘map out’ the overall service.

4. UX Design Skills – Conduct User Research

A true-blue UX designer must be able to conduct user research prior to creating a design. In most cases, you will need to get out of the office and meet with actual users. The goal is to get their reaction to a particular design. It’s important to note that user research should not be confused with usability testing. The latter is a reactive process while the former (user research) is a proactive process.

UX Design skills


5. UX Design Skills – Know How to Delight Users

Knowing how to research on your users is not enough. A widely-used mantra by UX neophytes will be “to delight the user.” Stop for a moment and ask yourself if this statement does make a difference to your design goals in any way. This overly obvious statement need to guide design decisions during your project.

Being able to delight the user is indeed a desirable outcome but you should ask instead ‘HOW’ not ‘WHY’.

If a UX designer can’t describe how then there are lower chances of achieving that result. After all, most users come to a site to solve a problem. Hence, it is pertinent that you are more familiar with your domain than any of your users. Your UX objective should be to impart that knowledge to help your users with utmost clarity and accuracy.


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6. UX Design Skills – Forge a Unique Path with Data-Driven Design

As a UX designer, following the crowd is a no-no. Your design decisions should be made from experiential and data-driven justification. If not, you may make the mistake of adhering to humdrum design approaches that actually contradict well-known usability standards.

UX Design skills

Let’s take a look at this scenario: You think that drop-down menus of the cascading variations are a widely used site navigation method.

However, you find that users typically perform quite poorly with them through usability research. Finally, understand the importance of data-driven design?

7. UX Design Skills – Handle Responsive Design

Whether it is tablets or smartphones, it comes as no surprise that these items are becoming more and more embedded into the fabric of our everyday lives. Because of this, both current and future UX designers need to be highly skilled in designing user experiences for an ever-increasing range of mobile devices and platforms.

However, you should not confuse this need as just needing to design for smaller screens – there’s more to it.

You need to consider more factors including the environment and context in which these devices are used, the types of relationships people have with their desktop/laptop compared to their phone, and the difference that touchscreen functionality makes to interactions. UX designers can’t just shoehorn an existing desktop/laptop design on to.

UX Design skills



As there is a need to ensure one’s design is supported on multiple devices, UX designers must also know a thing or two about creating responsive designs – whether on the server side or client side. This also implies that there is a need for more modular designs to be created. To put it in another way: less sketching and more prototyping.

UX designers need to have the right skillset to be able to get away from the traditional wireframes to Photoshop mindset.

They need to understand more of the technical side of things, such as seeking answers to questions pertaining to CSS media queries, breakpoints and more. Only when a deeper understanding of the necessary techniques and mechanisms exist, more fluid and responsive designs can be created to effectively transform and deliver content.

8. UX Design Skills – Implement User-Centered Designs

User-centered designs (UCD) are needed so that good UX designs can continue to come out of them. UCD is an important skill that all UX designers will need to hone.

Only when you really understand users, then you can come up with the best UX designs.

UX Design skills

For starters, you can rely on user feedback to understand your users’ needs and iterate designs from that information.

You should keep in mind that the core user-centered design process will remain the same and is the key to the future, even when user feedback mechanisms, as well as research and design tools, change.

9. UX Design Skills – Excel in Task Optimization

Do you know that task analysis is only the first step to any successful design effort? While it is a key component of a successful design, you should know how to refine and/or optimize those tasks as well.

The primary objective of task optimization is to avoid automating current frustrations. A seasoned UX designer is needed to tweak the users’ task flow to become a more efficient one.
Here’s an example to help you understand this point better.

UX Design E commerce
Imagine that e-Commerce site XXX offers order shipping and usually provides a basic shipping selection UI and present those choices with a ‘ typical duration’ such as:

  • Overnight shipping: 1 day
  • Air freight shipping: 2 to 3 business days
  • Ground shipping: 6 to 10 business days

Now, these shipping UIs raise some red flags. For example, the shipper’s business days may include weekends (Saturdays or Sundays, etc.).

Also, the user may lack the knowledge regarding how long it will take to prepare a certain product for shipping, and when that package will be picked up by the shipper.

Since you understood that the user requires a product by a certain date, you might want to provide an optimized solution that asks the user when they need it and then present them only with choices that meet that user’s requirement.

Recap: Core UX Skills & Personal Attributes that Need Building On

By now, you should already know that UX designers got to have all the skills of any designer dealing with creative work should have. And the focus should be on people – the users. While there are more skills to mention under this niche, we have picked the pressing ones that need to be dealt with first.

The core:

  • Wireframing skills
  • Task analysis skills
  • User research skills
  • Information design & architecture skills
  • Interface design skills
  • Product design skills
  • Ethnography & discovery skills

Personal attributes:

  • Ability to visualize solutions (before one is built)
  • Ability to identify salient points and synthesize information
  • Analytical thinking skills
  • Show skepticism at appropriate timings
  • Passion
  • Empathy
  • Interact well with clients

Do you think you have what it takes to be a UX designer? If you are interested in pursuing a career in UX design, the best thing you can do now is to sign up for a course to get acquainted with UX design essentials. Not only will you learn the basic skills needed, you will also get a chance to see how skill applications work in a multitude of areas through your course instructors.

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