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Beginner’s Guide to UX Design

User experience (UX) design is the process of creating a product or website that produces positive and accessible experiences for the user. UX designers spend their days asking why users want to use a specific product, what all can be done with that product, and how the product can be more visually appealing and user-friendly.

They complete these tasks by employing market research and design techniques to better understand the needs of the customer. Here, we’ll explore the design process as well as the skills that anyone needs to be a successful UX designer. 

Basics of the UX Design Process

In essence, the job of a UX designer is to identify where users of a program encounter difficulties and work to develop more effective solutions and designs. It can generally be conceptualized as having four unique steps, though many of these steps will be repeated until all parties involved in the project come to a satisfactory design solution. The first steps are to identify and define the problem based on user feedback. Getting the perspective of those who use a particular product is key to improving designs. This is usually done via surveys that ask questions about what people like and dislike about a product or website.

Next, UX designers generate ideas based on how the problem has been defined. These brainstorming sessions typically take place in a workshop setting. Here, teammates work together to create a list of potential solutions to the problem they identified. For example, the creators of Duolingo wanted a way to keep people engaged and motivated when learning a new language. The gamification of the user experience has led to billions of dollars of growth in the company and thousands of new users every year. Finally, prototypes are developed and tested by users to determine whether their experience has been improved. If not, it’s back to the drawing board for more workshopping and prototyping. If the prototype is deemed successful, it moves onto the official development phase. 

Helpful Tools for UX Designers

Working toward a career as a UX designer means you’ll need to get comfortable working with several different types of software. Below are some examples of the most common tools that a UX designer should be familiar with.

Adobe XD: This program is a vector-based design software that is used to create both websites and mobile apps. Developed by Adobe Inc. and part of their Creative Cloud, Adobe XD is full of exciting features for designers to get creative and develop unique content. The collaboration feature enables entire teams to work and test their designs together and there are several repeating tools to quicken the pace of your workflow. XD works on both Windows and macOS platforms. 

Sketch: This is a program that does both graphic design and editing. Designs created in this program can be saved in several popular formats and can be opened in popular Adobe programs like Photoshop and Illustrator. Like XD, there are features in Sketch that allow for collaboration among team members. Sketch offers many different plug-in options to further customize your projects. Bear in mind that this software is not compatible with Windows and is not intended for print design. 

InVision: This unique tool is used for prototyping designs. It can often be challenging to present designs to a team without being able to demonstrate how they will function so people can better imagine what the final product will look like. InVision enables designers to share interactive prototypes with their clients and team members in a realistic way. 

Important Qualities for UX Designers

If you want to learn UX design, keep in mind that soft skills are just as necessary to develop as hard skills, especially since they are harder to teach. Soft skills can also go a long way in ensuring job security; hiring and training a new employee is a costly investment that most companies prefer to avoid whenever possible. Below are some suggestions of soft skills that you’ll want to hone before you begin a career as a UX professional. 

Communication: Most jobs require positive communication skills to be successful, and UX design is no exception. However, since people are becoming more accustomed to remote working, this can be a challenging skill to develop. UX designers need excellent communication skills because they generally work as part of a larger team. They frequently have to explain their choices in an understandable way to people without a similar background. Active listening is also important for situations, where clients are providing feedback and any time deadlines are being discussed; it’s crucial to be forthcoming about when people can expect your work to be completed. 

Creativity: Creativity is another must-have skill for any UX designer, as obvious as it may seem. However, there is a stark difference between being able to regularly come up with innovative ideas and merely hoping you’ll have an arbitrary strike of inspiration. Creative professionals usually employ a specific method that helps them keep track of their ideas, as well as a means to regularly execute and evaluate their ideas to see if they’re worth further exploration. Many people struggle with the idea that creativity can become a structured practice, but there are many ways to boost your creative thinking skills.

Teamwork: Working in programming, web development, or software development means you’ll always be a part of a larger team. If you prefer to work alone or sometimes struggle to get along with others, building on these skills will be critical for a successful UX design career. You can start by pushing yourself to be more present in workplace social activities. Have you been avoiding some team happy hours or weekend picnics? Now might be the time to go to a few. Getting to know your teammates is a key factor to success because you’ll have a deeper understanding of everyone’s skills, preferences, and weaknesses. Knowing these key details about your colleagues can go a long way when it comes to delegating tasks and working through conflicts for a large project. 

Learn UX Design with Career Centers

If you feel ready to dive into a UX design career, consider taking some UX design courses with Noble Desktop, a partner program of Career Centers. If you’d like to focus on learning to use one specific software program, you can check out the Sketch Bootcamp or the Adobe XD Bootcamp. For a more well-rounded experience, there is a 30-hour UX Design Bootcamp available as well. This program does require some background knowledge in prototyping software before enrollment. Finally, Noble Desktop offers a UX & UI Design Certificate program that is part-time for two months. The curriculum covers the entire process of developing and testing a prototype on both mobile and web applications. You’ll learn more about user testing processes as well. Regardless of which class you choose, you will enjoy small class sizes and you’ll have the option to retake your course for free to make sure you understand the material. 

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